Greening Our Nation’s Backyard

Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development, and Sustainable Landscapes

GOVGreen 2011 Panel

Delivered by: Patrick McGinnis, Water Resources Team Leader, THG
November 30, 2011
Washington, DC Convention Center
2011 CEIL’s GOVgreen Conference and Exposition

My name is Pat McGinnis. I currently advise The Horinko Group on water resource matters. The Horinko Group is a DC-based environmental consulting firm focused on water, energy, and remediation working along side clients and partners from government, business, communities, academic institutions, and non-profits.

I came to the group in 2009 after completing a 32-year career with the Corps of Engineers. I am a Wildlife Biologist by training. I began my career with the Corps as a Regulatory Wetland Specialist but spent the last twenty years as an Operational Project Manager on the Mississippi River serving as a public lands administrator overseeing the planning, re-development and protection of a sustainable footprint on 50,000 acres along the riparian corridor upstream of St. Louis, MO.

This experience and my own core values shaped my regard for the importance of sustaining the natural capital of aquatic ecosystems, the importance of open space to livable communities, the power of nature-based tourism to diversify rural economies, and the importance of green infrastructure and low impact development to protecting our nation’s water resources.

During this time, I gained a valuable and necessary perspective about shaping stakeholder expectations and building consensus around the business case for green infrastructure approaches.

Our group believes that three sectors are central to advancing the standing of green infrastructure and low impact development in our lives. Those include the governance sector, the advocacy sector, and the business sector.

Too many of our nation’s environmental challenges, whether it be the protection of water quality and open space, or effectively managing risk to foster confidence and future investment, each are being advanced with too little outreach to the American people, too little emphasis on using a system perspective to show folks where and how the dots are connected, and why source protection and control, storm water management, water quality, and open space are all central to sustaining natural systems and healthy, vibrant communities. Therefore, I commend the work of CEIL in spreading the word and hosting this important gathering.

The government and non-profits are not the only ones with a stake in fostering social awareness. As a for-profit, albeit a modest one, we believe the business community also has a looming responsibility to help vet and reveal the business case for sustainability. We want to make a difference. We want our colleagues and clients positioned to make a difference.

As a society, we must change how we relate to natural systems. Embracing the concepts and value of green infrastructure is gaining a foothold. In my view, it is this foothold, a heightened social awareness, and growing sense of interdependence that is moving us toward a greater call for stewardship. We need to think and act beyond compliance. We are moving toward a tipping point of doing just that.

Sustainably managing our nation’s natural capital is a matter of national security and greening of our urban and rural landscapes can put people to work.

Today, we have brought together a panel of seasoned practitioners from the governance sector, advocacy sector, and business sector to share their perspectives about where we are and where we need to go to continue the course correction onto a sustainable path.

Our first panelist, Chris Kloss joins us from EPA where he serves as Green Infrastructure Coordinator for within the Agency’s Office of Water. Chris is responsible for programs and activities assessing the potential for green infrastructure to be used in environmental protection and compliance programs for EPA.

Our second panelist, Neil Weinstein, is Executive Director of the Low Impact Development Center, a highly respected non-profit that has been a steady voice calling important attention to innovation and best practices that are driving sustainable storm water management strategies and techniques. Much of Neil’s current work focuses on how to use landscape and the built environment to create sustainable infrastructure that protects natural resources, enhances aesthetics, and the quality of life in urban communities.

Our third panelist, Doug Bauer, is Vice President of Pizzo and Associates; a Chicago area based firm specializing in full service ecological restoration consulting including site design, installation, and site stewardship. Pizzo also offers a robust selection of herbaceous native flora at their nursery operations in Leland, IL. Pizzo has a vast amount of experience working complex government and corporate project sites and has received numerous awards for their attention to cost control, plant survivability, and stewardship. They have emerged as an industry leader in calling necessary attention to what works and doesn’t work and matching projects with client needs.

I’d like to welcome and thank our panelists for participating in today’s discussion.

Thank you.

Click here to download a PDF of this panel’s presentations. (18 MB PDF)