Waterkeeper Unveils Major Lake George Initiative
LEED awards from the US Green Building Council recognize buildings that are energy efficient, make no great demands upon the earth’s resources and consciously avoid exacerbating climate change.
On Lake George, some new development leaves the landscape intact and the lake’s water quality undiminished.
According to Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, that type of development should be eligible for the same kind of recognition – and certification – that LEED buildings receive.
At the Waterkeeper’s Low Impact Development Conference, held on May 7 at Fort William Henry, Navitsky released details of his organization’s plan to certify new and retrofitted development, private and public, as lake-friendly.
He calls it the Lake George Low Impact Development (or LID) Certification System.
Michelle Adams, a consultant to the US Green Building Council who assisted Navitsky with the development of the system, explained, “We know what we want to accomplish, but the question is how to get there. Regulations are not enough. So we took a cue from the LEED program and looked at a rating system that could help change practices on a voluntary basis. LEED has changed building practices in a good way. LID can set standards for development that will have the same effect.”
“We will score projects according to the extent to which they maintain natural features, like streams and slopes and buffered shorelines,” said Navitsky. “Using sound environmentally-sound engineering practices, looking at all the ways that development impacts ecosystems, we can reduce the flow of nutrients into the lake and protect water quality.”
The LID Certification System, Navitsky added, “will also take into account the benefits of Low Impact Development to the community, above and beyond water quality. Using local materials, ensuring that any lighting is dark sky-compliant, anything that makes the community more sustainable in the future, will carry weight in the score card.”
The benefits of a LID Certification System, to the lake, to municipalities, to developers and homeowners, are numerous, said Navitsky.
“The economic value of Low Impact Development, in the form of higher property values, has been shown. There are other economic incentives that could be offered that will not only promote better development but benefit the developer,” he said.
According to Navitsky, those incentives might include tax credits, expedited permitting reviews and greater density when redeveloping an aging resort or motel.
For a development to be awarded LID certification, a developer is required to do no more than submit the same plans he sends to a zoning office to the Waterkeeper, Navitsky said.
The first LID certified project will be the Silver Bay YMCA.
The resort and conference center plans to become a year-round operation, requiring the expansion and renovation of its inn.
But that won’t at the expense of the environment, according to Silver Bay officials. They say their multi-year plans include $2 million in engineering and construction that will actually enhance the lake’s water quality.
The Fund for Lake George’s 2015 Investment Priorities include an education grant to assist Silver Bay in this pursuit and four LID implementation challenge awards, said Eric Siy, The Fund’s executive director.
“This project has been incubating for a couple of years, and we’re proud to roll it out on Lake George, with a view to exporting it to other communities. This is something we can do for the next generation,” said Navitsky.