Trees Forever to address cost of green infrastructure at annual event in Cedar Rapids

Challenges, benefits of green economy to be discussed

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CEDAR RAPIDS – “Green” infrastructure is not as expensive as traditional systems and can mean even more green for the bottom line.

That premise is the theme of this year’s Trees Forever symposium, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, at the Cedar Rapids Country Club.

More than 100 people are expected to attend the event, called “Banking on Green: Green Infrastructure’s Triple Bottom Line.”

Keynote speakers Randy Neprash and John Shardlow from Stantec Inc., of St. Paul, Minn., will address the economic benefits of using more trees and natural, bio-engineering solutions.

A panel of elected officials, local planners and engineers will discuss challenges of investing in green infrastructure, and landscape architect Ruth Fox of Cedar Rapids will highlight this year’s national Banking on Green report by the American Society of Landscape Architects, American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation and ECONorthwest.

The report provides case studies and cost analysis to demonstrate that green infrastructure techniques are proven and cost-effective at managing stormwater, preventing flooding, improving water quality and promoting public health.

“It’s a change that doesn’t necessarily cost more,” Fox said, citing permeable pavers as an example.

The pavers, which allow rainwater to percolate into the soil rather than rush as runoff to storm sewers, can be less expensive than traditional pavement because stormwater pipes would not need to be installed with the pervious pavement, she said.

Iowa case studies in Charles City, West Union, Ankeny and Fayette were among those cited in the report.

Fox said smaller municipalities are sometimes better positioned to try green infrastructure than places such as Cedar Rapids, where the decision-making process involves more people.

Afternoon bus tours during the symposium will showcase projects such as the new Raining Rose sustainable building and site. Fox was the landscape architect for the site at 3015 First Ave. SE, which features native plants and grasses.

Workshops will address local policies for engineers and developers, managing backyard woodlands, and reducing flood risks through watershed approaches.

Participants also will share their “good green news” during a session moderated by Cedar Rapids council member Monica Vernon.

What: Our Woodland Legacy Symposium

When:  8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5

Where: Cedar Rapids Country Club, 550 27th St. Drive SE.

Cost: $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Fee includes lunch.

To register: Register by Tuesday. Contact Jo Ann McNiel at (319)-373-0650, ext. 118, or

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