Milwaukee’s Westlawn neighborhood is one of six American communities receiving free neighborhood design consultation in 2013 from Global Green USA with the help of a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.
Over the next 10 months, four sustainability experts will a conduct a three-day visit to the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM)’s Westlawn neighborhood.
During the visit, the experts will provide comprehensive recommendations for infrastructure and policy changes aimed at helping the community build a future that is more resource-efficient, livable, healthy and environmentally responsible.
The Global Green USA consultation will help maximize the sustainable and healthy living design plans for the western half of the Westlawn public housing development, which is in the midst of a complete revitalization. Redevelopment of the eastern half of the 75-acre neighborhood is nearly complete with 250 new affordable housing units and plans for additional market rate homes. These housing units are the backbone of a new mixed-income community with an emphasis on healthy living and environmental sustainability.
“Global Green’s expert consultation will help the Housing Authority continue redeveloping Westlawn into one of Milwaukee’s most innovative and environmentally sustainable neighborhoods,” says Mayor Tom Barrett. “The end result will be a higher quality of life for residents of Westlawn and the surrounding community.”
HACM is rebuilding Westlawn to meet or exceed new environmental standards, including LEED Neighborhood Development certification. The plan includes sustainable design strategies that are creating economic efficiencies and reducing the impact on the environment and city infrastructure through improved storm water management.
“Our goal is to build a healthy, sustainable community for the families of Westlawn and to reduce the impact on our environment,” says HACM secretary-executive director Tony Pérez. “The Global Green consultation will ensure we continue building to the highest possible sustainability standards as we move forward with the redevelopment of Westlawn Gardens.”
The other cities awarded are Montgomery, Alabama; Camden, New Jersey; Cary, North Carolina; Toledo, Ohio; and Burlington, Vermont. The six communities were selected for the free consultations through a competitive process based on several criteria, including need for assistance, urgency, substantial upcoming projects and community engagement.
“Cities are responsible for up to 70 percent of global warming pollution, but they can also be the laboratories for climate-friendly solutions that save money, improve health and quality of life,” says Walker Wells, director of Global Green USA’s Green Urbanism Program. “For nearly two decades, Global Green has been helping cities create sustainable plans for the future, and we are excited to be able to bring our expertise to these six deserving communities.”
Starting in February, the Global Green sustainability team will visit each of the communities with other planning and sustainability experts from around the country— including Raimi+Associates, Farr Associates and Agora Group. During the site assessment, the team will identify a neighborhood’s positive qualities, consult with community stakeholders in meetings and public workshops, and identify major opportunities to improve the neighborhood’s sustainability.
At the visit’s conclusion, the team will present recommendations for both physical and policy changes that may include streetscape improvements, ecological restoration, integrated energy and water infrastructure, new standards for in-fill and transit-oriented development or zoning code revisions to allow for urban agriculture or mixed-use development.