The Inflation Reduction Act prioritizes landscape architecture solutions to the climate crisis

ASLA 2021 Professional Urban Design Excellence Award. Crack Repair: Ricardo Lara Linear Park. Lynwood, California, United States. SWA Team / SWA Team / Jonnu Singleton

By Roxanne Blackwell, Hon. ASLA, and Caleb Raspler

Congress has passed and President Joseph Biden is expected to sign the U.S.’s most comprehensive response to the climate crisis so far — the Inflation Reduction Act. The Act makes a historic $369 billion investment to improve energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help communities adapt to climate impacts.

Importantly, the Infrastructure Reduction Act recognizes and funds landscape architecture approaches to addressing climate change – from active transportation projects like full streets and recreational trails to nature-based water infrastructure, community tree planting, ecosystem restoration, and more. The Act also makes significant strides in addressing environmental and climate justice and providing underserved communities with resources to adapt to a changing climate.

Landscape architects are uniquely qualified to lead these projects. Community engagement skills, particularly suited to working with underserved communities. The Depreciation Act offers landscape architects great opportunities to work with all communities and design a more resilient and low-carbon future.

LA Riverfront Greenway Phase II, Los Angeles, California / Studio-MLA

Major funding for programs and projects typically led by landscape architects includes:

Active transportation infrastructure

Neighborhood access and equity grant program$3 billion to improve walking, safety and affordable transportation access through projects Context-sensitive.

The program offers the following grants:

  • Build or improve complete roads, multi-use roads, regional greenways and active transportation networks and spines or provide affordable access to important destinations, public spaces, transit links and intersections.
  • Avoid high-speed and other transportation projects and facilities that hinder connectivity in communities.
  • Avoid transportation projects and facilities that contribute to air pollution, noise pollution, stormwater runoff, or other burdens in underserved communities. These projects may include noise barriers to reduce impacts from the facility, greenhouse gas emissions associated with technologies, infrastructure and surface transportation, and other activities to reduce air pollution. Solutions may include natural infrastructure, permeable or porous pavement, or protective features to reduce or control stormwater runoff. heat island mitigation projects on road rights-of-way; Safety improvements for vulnerable road users; and planning and capacity building activities in vulnerable communities.

Gifts of low carbon shipping materials$2 billion to encourage the use of building materials with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions in landscape architecture projects.

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honors Award. Inspirational journeys for all.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, United States. HDLA / Charlie Craighead

National parks and public lands

$250 million for conservation, protection, and resilience projects on National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.

$250 million for conservation, ecosystem, and habitat restoration projects on NPS and BLM lands.

$200 million for NPS deferred maintenance projects.

500 million to hire NPS workers.

$250 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife recovery and reconstruction and restoration of parts of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

National and community forest

$200 million for vegetation management projects in the National Forest System.

$1.5 billion in competitive grants for tree planting and related activities through the Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program.

Sapwi Trails Community Park. Thousand Oaks, California | Conejo Recreation and Park District and RRM Design Team (Consulting Landscape Architects) / Conejo Recreation and Park District

Water

$550 million to plan, design or construct water projects with the primary purpose of providing domestic water supply to underserved communities or households in a state or territory without reliable water supply.

$4 billion in grants, contracts or financial assistance to drought-affected states Prioritizes the Colorado River basin and other watersheds facing long-term drought.

$15 million to provide technical assistance for climate change planning, adaptation, and resilience in insular areas – US states.

Coastal communities

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)$2.6 billion in grants, technical assistance and cooperative agreements to enable coastal communities to prepare for severe hurricanes and other changing climates. This includes projects that assess natural resources and marine fish and marine mammals that support communities dependent on coastal and marine resources.

$50 million in competitive grants to support climate research related to climate, ocean, coastal, and atmospheric processes and conditions and marine species and coastal habitats. .

Environmental and climate justice

$3 billion in competitive grants for clean air and climate action.

$33 million to collect data and track the disproportionate burdens of environmental pollution and climate change on environmental justice communities.

Federal buildings

$250 million to transform General Services Administration facilities into high-performance buildings.

2.1 billion dollars to buy low carbon materials.

$975 million for emerging and sustainable technologies and related sustainability programs.

$20 million to hire new staff to plan, authorize, and approve more efficient, accurate, and timely assessments.

Other supplies

Department of Agriculture: $19.4 billion to invest in climate-smart agricultural practices and land needs that promote soil carbon improvements and carbon sequestration.

Department of Energy$115 million for staff hiring and training, development of program environmental documents, procurement of environmental assessment technical or scientific services, development of environmental data or information systems, stakeholder and community engagement, and acquisition of new equipment for environmental analysis to facilitate timely and efficient environmental assessments and permits.

Department of Housing and Urban Development: $837.5 million to improve energy efficiency or water efficiency or climate resilience of affordable housing.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF)The fund effectively finances emissions reductions through active transportation, ecosystem restoration, energy and water efficiency, and climate smart agriculture, including landscape architecture projects. The fund will receive a total of $27 billion, with $8 billion earmarked for low-income or otherwise underserved communities. Funds flow through state, regional, local and tribal green banks. And the GGRF provides the institutional basis for the National Climate Bank Act.

Roxanne Blackwell, Hon. ASLA, Esq., is the Director of Federal Government Affairs, and Caleb Raspler, Esq., is the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Federal Government Affairs Manager.

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