Ecodistricts Considered in Baltimore City

A June 21 Baltimore Sun article reported that several projects in Baltimore City, including State Center and Harbor Point, are considering creating the City’s first “ecodistrict.” From the article:

The [State Center] project could introduce Baltimore’s first “ecodistrict,” creating a zone with a set of common environmental goals and infrastructure systems to help meet the targets. …

The ecodistrict approach, pioneered in Portland, Ore., scales up the kind of environmental standards often applied to individual buildings, a move backers say allows property owners to have a greater impact, while preserving the flexibility of a small operation.

In the past five years, the idea has gained traction, with cities such as San Francisco and Washington proposing zones in which buildings share systems for energy or stormwater management. In Baltimore, the idea has been discussed in relation to Harbor Point, as well as the west side around Lexington Market, where the city is looking for developers for a number of major sites.

“The basic concept of an ecodistrict is this idea of getting greater efficiencies out of systems within a neighborhood or community than you could get doing it one building at a time,” said Peter Doo, a partner at Doo Consulting, a Baltimore sustainability consulting firm, who is a member of the city’s Sustainability Commission.

The article stated that heightened stormwater management requirements have led to the interest in ecodistricts but that no formal discussions  have occurred at the State or local level.  However, the Baltimore Office of Sustainability is examining the issue:

The Baltimore Office of Sustainability is researching the methodology championed by the Portland-based nonprofit EcoDistricts, as well as other neighborhood or district-based programs to tackle environmental sustainability, coordinator Alice Kennedy said. The hope is to find the most effective way to meet the goals outlined in the city’s sustainability and climate action plans.

“We’re still looking at what options exist, what benefits do they bring and what would it take,” she said. “There isn’t anything very specific in terms of projects or programs.”

EcoDistricts Website (Check here to find out about the nonprofit’s pilot program and methodology)