City of Fort Collins Utilities Administration Building LEED v4 Celebration

Thursday, June 8, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Utilities Administration Building in Fort Collins

Cost: FREE

Join IBE, USGBC Colorado’s Northern Branch, and the City of Fort Collins as we celebrate the completion of Fort Collin’s Utilities Administration Building, one of Colorado’s first completed LEED v4 New Construction project. During this open house celebration, tours will be held back to back, the LEED project team and USGBC will deliver the plaque ceremony, and free barbecue lunch will be provided to those who tour the ASSA ABLOY Sustainability Showcase Truck.

The new administration building is one of the most energy efficient buildings in the state, is targeting LEED Platinum level, and more than 95% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills. Let’s celebrate this amazing building together. All are welcomed to attend.

This event is sponsored by ASSA ABLOY. Learn about ASSA ABLOY’s role in security and sustainability by touring their sustainability truck during the event! Register.

Agenda:

11am to 11:30am: tour 1
11:15am to 11:45am: tour 2
11:45am to 12:15pm: tour 3
12:30pm to 1:00pm: UAB Plaque Ceremony
1:30pm to 2pm: tour 4
1:45 to 2:15pm: tour 5

Reaching for Regeneration: Discovering the Power of Place

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Colin Day
Projects Manager


Amid increasing homogenization of American communities, there is a growing interest in identifying and cultivating the unique traits inherent to individual places. Imagine for a moment three different towns that you are familiar with and that are geographically proximate. Each one has its own particular character, culture, and mindset – but why is that? What drives a place to be one way, and not another, in spite of many seemingly similar elements? If we could truly understand the driving forces, patterns, and relationships that make a place what it is, how might that inform our business approaches, city planning, stakeholder engagement processes, and the activities that provide benefit to the community?

Regenesis Group, based in Santa Fe and Boston, has been pioneering a practice called regenerative development, which seeks to reveal and work with the inherent potential of a place. Specifically, Regenesis has developed a methodology called “Story of Place,” which aims to “access the deep love and caring that people have for their place, and then reconcile the inevitable contrasting stakeholder viewpoints into a higher-order understanding that all stakeholders can experience, share, and work from together.” This methodology creates an understanding of what is unique, important, and fundamentally programmed into any given community.

The Story of Place process is built on thorough research about a place’s unique characteristics – what differentiates it geologically, ecologically, and culturally from any other place. The process pulls on a community’s collective experience to explore a place’s distinction—from pre-human history through human inhabitation—considering how culture has developed though time. It uncovers complex patterns that point to customized strategies for supporting a place’s ecological, social, and economic resilience. Ultimately, the process offers unique solutions for making a place thrive.

In this process, community members are active participants in the story of their place. They take ownership through community planning processes and along the way, reaffirm their belonging in the community. As a result, creativity and cooperation drive the planning process, enabling the community to think outside the box, address larger challenges, and regenerate from the inside out.

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How You Can Get Involved

IBE, in collaboration with the Urban Lab, is pleased to join Regenesis Group to bring Story of Place to Fort Collins beginning this spring. On April 11, Ben Haggard, founding principal at Regenesis Group, will discuss regenerative development and Story of Place (register); he’ll also present in Denver at the Alliance Center on April 10 (register). Then, through a hybrid online and in-person training from June to September, Fort Collins participants will re-discover our place and our collective experience within it. To learn more about Story of Place and how you can get involved, contact Colin Day at colin.day[at]colostate.edu.

Meet the Intern: Amelia Howe, Sustainability Associate

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Amelia Howe
Sustainability Associate


I recently graduated from CSU with my BS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and a minor in Global Environmental Sustainability. With programs like mine that focus on natural resources and natural resource management, the connection to the built environment may not seem obvious. However, with increasing urbanization and population growth, urban ecosystems and our built environment have officially connected with nature. I am surprised it took me so long to realize that these entities need to work together as a single system rather than act as two separate systems to thrive, and I owe the majority of this realization to my work with IBE and my CSU courses in Human Dimensions.

Finding IBE

So how did a natural resource student

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Brian Dunbar, Amelia Howe, and Katie Vega after a Denver Water facilitation.

find her passion in the realm of urban and regional
design and the built environment? Rewind to Summer of 2015. I was interning with the US Forest Service and volunteering with the City of Fort Collins Environmental Planning department when I met Brian Dunbar, IBE’s executive director, on a walking tour of Fort Collins. He told me all about IBE and a project called “Nature in the City” that immediately sparked my interest. I left that fateful tour with a business card in hand and a mission in mind: become a part of IBE’s team. I remember interviewing for my position a few weeks later and feeling that my background did not relate much to IBE’s mission to “Advance the development of healthy, thriving built environments,” but IBE saw the connections between my work and its mission in ways that I was not yet able to understand.

Discovering the Built Environment Lens

I will never forget my first day on the job. I took a deep breath, walked in, and dove straight into a sustainable affordable housing design charrette. Talk about intimidating. At that point, I knew nothing about the building and design process, and had to look up the word “charrette” before I left my house that morning. While I felt a bit out of place at first, it was in this meeting where I began to see the connection between people and place through a new lens. We were discussing plans for a new development and the conversation was not focused on time, money, and convenience, but instead on how healthy, efficient buildings lead to healthy, thriving humans. It all began to click for me in that four-hour design charrette; the connections foreseen by my mentors finally made sense to me.

The Intersect of Urban & Natural

Amelia Blog.jpgDuring my time with IBE, I have been given the opportunity to dive headfirst into an abundance of diverse project work. With each new project comes new lessons learned, new additions to my “professionalism toolbox,” and new realizations of how I can apply my passion of the natural-urban intersect in the real world. From corporate sustainability projects with Denver International Airport and Harrison Street Real Estate (a $12B asset management company), to city planning initiatives like Nature in the City and the Green Built Environment Program, to LEED and other green building projects like the new Warner College Building addition, it is safe to say I have cultivated a unique project portfolio. Looking at these projects on the surface, one may wonder how I did this all in the scope of one internship. I did not understand it at first either, but the answer is this: the one tie that these entirely different projects share is the importance of sustainability, in all scales and forms. If we are intentional in the way we operate our businesses, build our buildings, develop our city plans, and make purchasing decisions, we can make huge differences on not only a local scale, but also a global scale.

Today

Fast forward to the present. I have just accepted a job offer as program administrator of field education with Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming, and am transitioning out of my project work at IBE. I can confidently say I understand what a design charrette is, and can even help facilitate one. I feel that I have gained a lifetime’s worth of professional experience in the span of two years and I never could have felt this confident entering into my new job than I do now thanks to the mentoring and professional development IBE has offered me. IBE was the best part of my undergraduate experience at CSU, and I will always be so grateful for the skills I gained through the mentoring program and the projects I tackled. On to the next adventure I go!

Creating a Community Health Hub at Salud Family Health Centers

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Katie Vega

Sustainability Associate, Public Health


The Colorado Health Foundation has awarded a one-year, $192,495 planning grant to design a proposed model for a community health hub in northwest Fort Collins, located at Salud Family Health Center’s newest clinic. IBE will lead the initiative to plan the proposed community hub guided by the following principle: ‘Make health less about medicine and more about community.’

Members of the community currently face fundamental barriers to health and wellbeing

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Image courtesy of The Family Ride

including food insecurity, lack of insurance, and poor or lacking built environment infrastructure (e.g., contiguous sidewalks). The design of the envisioned Salud Community Health Hub, to be located at 1830 Laporte Avenue, would offer a preventative approach to address such “upstream” health factors. The main idea is that the Health Hub will provide a centralized, inclusive space where Salud patients, providers, staff, and local community members can easily connect to a network of local organizations and service providers to achieve improved health outcomes.

IBE will help establish the Salud Community Health Collaborative, which will be the guiding advisory team during the planning phase of the project. Collaborative members include Salud Family Health Centers, Food Bank for Larimer County, Vida Sana, Sproutin’ Up, Bike Fort Collins, One Health Institute at CSU, and the Built Environment Working Group at CSU. Additional partnerships will be explored as the project progresses. The Collaborative is comprised of community partners that represent all three spectrums of health: disease prevention, disease treatment, and health generation. Collaborative members will contribute their specialized knowledge and experience to the project, exploring ways to provide integrated care—connecting preventative health and primary care. For example, a treatment protocol may entail a Salud health provider writing a prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables to be filled at the Health Hub community garden and/or food pantry.

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Sproutin’ Up. Image courtesy of Odell Brewing.

To ensure the design of easy access by community members and create well-connected service facilities, the project team will examine both the surrounding built environment infrastructure and the health hub site designs. Active design, universal design, healthy community design, and other evidence-based design frameworks will ultimately influence a site plan that best supports this specific community’s health and wellbeing. While the Colorado Health Foundation grant will make the design possible, additional funding will be required to build the vision.

From the onset, the project team will engage service providers and local community members—foundational to the Health Hub’s development—to better understand their needs, barriers, and opportunities for health and wellbeing. Community members will contribute to the overall project vision through focus groups and one-on-one interviews. Further, IBE will facilitate hands-on design workshops to support community members in creating a unique vision for the Health Hub.

For additional information, contact Katherine Vega, at katherine.vega(at)colostate.edu.

A New Neighborhood Approach: Meeting Fort Collins’ Affordable Housing Gap


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Bruce Hendee, RLA

IBE Advisory Board Member


Affordable housing became an issue in Fort Collins shortly after the end of the Great Recession. At that time, a perfect storm of conditions led to a dramatic decrease in the availability of affordable housing that has continued to this day.

In 2014, Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity’s Board of Directors and Executive Director, Kristin Candella, recognized the need to address this shortage of affordable housing stock. In response, the Board set an aggressive goal to build 50 new affordable homes by the year 2020, more than doubling the homes built by Habitat over the last twenty years—an especially challenging task given that all are built with volunteers. The goal required a new neighborhood approach that would yield more homes in less space to keep individual costs down.

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Harmony Cottages perspective.

The Perfect Storm for an Affordable Housing Crisis

As the lingering effects of the Great Recession began to wear off, there were few new housing units on the market. New housing starts had slowed due to the shortage of credit available from lenders in response to tightening legislation from the Federal Reserve. Developers were reluctant to invest in new projects because of the weakened economy and the Construction Defects Law, a new state law that made it easier for builders to be sued in building new condominiums. Construction of new condos came to a halt, putting further pricing pressure on entry-level housing.

At the same time that housing starts were at a dramatic low, Fort Collins was recognized as one of the best places to live and raise a family in America. The city and the Front Range became one of the favored locations to move. Simultaneously, Colorado State University was anticipating significant growth in student enrollment and had over $1 billion in new construction planned over a 10-year period, while Fort Collins-based corporations (such as Woodward and Otterbox) were building major new manufacturing and corporate facilities.

The resulting storm of immigration, lack of housing under construction, and a newly emerging, booming marketplace for jobs created a vacuum in available housing. The shortage caused housing prices to rise and affordability to become an issue.

Cottages and New Urbanism: Maximizing Space & Minimizing Cost

To realize the vision for 50 new affordable homes, Habitat for Humanity decided on a site located at Harmony and Taft Hill Road. But the original land plan contained only 30 lots whereas close to 50 were required to meet the goal. Additionally, the cost of lots would be too high spread over only 30 lots. With a targeted objective of attracting residents making an income in the 35-60% range of area median income, Habitat had to keep site and home costs down in spite of a rapidly escalating residential market.

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Harmony Cottages site plan. Image courtesy of Ripley Design, Inc.

To meet this challenge, Habitat teamed up with a local social impact developer and retained a design team that included two IBE Advisory Board members, Bruce Hendee, ASLA, and Greg Fisher, AIA. The team also included local landscape architecture firm Ripley Design, which has significant neighborhood design experience.

The team was given the charge to develop a denser site plan that added more lots while creating a great community. Design began with an intensive charrette and used a blend of New Urbanism and Pocket Neighborhood concepts, which originated from early neighborhood designs begun by Ebeneezer Howard and Frederick Law Olmsted during the Garden City Movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s. This concept evolved around small garden commons surrounded by cottage-style homes. To increase density, Fisher developed a duplex home style with gabled roof lines that made the duplexes appear as though they were two single-family homes. The community court concept, paired with the unique duplex style, enabled the project to expand from 30 to 48 units, a nearly 60% increase in density. An added benefit was the preservation of 40% open space.

A Collaborative Model for Affordable Energy

A key project requirement was to create highly efficient, low-cost homes. For families earning a low to moderate income, paying for heat often falls to the wayside in the interest of other, more critical needs. Therefore, a design that would keep residents comfortable at a very low energy cost was key.

In consultation with the City of Fort Collins Utilities’ Integrated Design Assistance Program (IDAP), Fisher designed homes with an exceptional building envelope and highly efficient electrical systems. IDAP enabled the team to conduct energy modeling of envelopes to further improve performance. The design process is still underway but has already yielded benefits, including analyzing the impact of the insulation. Spurred by a meeting that IBE facilitated early in the design phase, all insulation was donated by Johns Manville, helping bring down costs.

All homes were designed to accommodate three-kilowatt solar panels without charging residents more for their homes or more in energy costs. Fisher ensured the homes were positioned to ensure maximized rooftop orientation of solar panels. The solar provider, Namaste Solar, has generously offered to donate $1,200 of the cost of every solar panel for the first phase. Kyocera, the solar panel manufacturer, is considering providing reduced-cost solar panels. And, the City of Fort Collins is considering matching financing up to $25,000 toward a solar installation for the first phase through an income-qualified solar program.

The total cost of solar per dwelling unit is approximately $12,000. With initial donations of approximately $5,000, the remaining balance is $7,000 per unit. Two approaches are being considered to cover this balance: a Habitat fundraiser and social impact investment. Through the latter, philanthropic investors would purchase the solar panels and be repaid through a 30% solar tax credit combined with capturing the net difference in energy costs through net metering. Once repaid, the money could contribute toward new social impact investments.

A Youth-Designed Playground

A unique detail of the neighborhood plan is a playground designed in large part by Kinard Middle School students. With the landscape architects and school staff, students researched playground design for children with various disabilities and met at a local neighborhood park to draft designs atop sidewalks and picnic tables. The fresh perspectives they generated greatly enhanced the community design.


The Harmony Cottages project site is now under construction with plans to build six to eight homes per year, based on availability of donations and volunteer labor. With home construction beginning in 2017, estimated buildout is 2023-2025.

To learn more, visit the Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity’s website.


About Bruce

Bruce Hendee is the former Chief Sustainability Officer and an Assistant City Manager with the City of Fort Collins. Bruce is also founder and former owner of BHA Design, a landscape architecture and planning firm located in Fort Collins.

He has organized and directed various efforts in the Fort Collins area, including development of a new division within the City called Sustainability Services. While at the City, he led an effort to create a new Climate Action Plan, a new Economic Health Strategic Plan, and development of a Social Sustainability Department. In 2012, the division was recognized with the Robert Havlick Award awarded by the International City/County Managers Association) as one of the most innovative new city management systems.

As the CEO of BHA Design in Fort Collins, he led the firm in numerous projects along the Front Range including master planning and design for University of Colorado Health, PVH, Harmony Campus, and Medical Center of the Rockies. Other notable projects included the master plan for the Downtown River District, Fossil Creek Park, Spring Canyon Park, and projects with the University of Colorado and Colorado State University.


Go “Off the Rails” with the Urban Lab

Andy.jpgAndy Madrick

Sustainability Associate, Landscape Architecture


On Friday, October 7, the Urban Lab will select the winner of its “Off the Rails” competition. This juried competition challenges innovators to envision the revitalization of a busy, neglected strip in downtown Fort Collins, Colorado—one that is currently limited by the conflict between an active railroad and the adjoining public streetscape. “Off the Rails” garnered submissions from around the globe. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of the future of Fort Collins.

When: Friday, October 7, 6-9 PM during Fort Collins’ First Friday Art Walk

Where: Galvanize, 242 Linden Street, Fort Collins, CO

The Urban Lab is proud to announce that it has attracted a national panel of esteemed jurors, an international submission pool, and a high level of community engagement and sponsorship.

International Applicants

“Off the Rails” entrants include students and professionals, from Fort Collins to as far away as China, who contributed ideas as diverse as their backgrounds. This international perspective will lead to a more colorful vision of what the city could become in the near future.

National Jury

“Off the Rails” attracted a national panel of judges:

Mayor Wade Troxell—Mayor of Fort Collins since April 2015, Troxell’s top priorities are: 1) Fort Collins as an innovation community and 2) Civic leadership for youth and young adults.

Hansy Better Barraza—As both a practitioner and an Associate Professor of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, Hansy is an expert in design methods that embrace social responsibility.

Walter Hood—Hood teaches landscape architecture and environmental design at the University of California, Berkeley. His studio practice, Hood Design, focuses on architectural commissions, urban design, art installations, and research.

Ed Goodman—Goodman’s diverse background includes more than 30 years of interdisciplinary problem solving with experience in entertainment, engineering, community design, marketing, branding, technology, organizational ecology, dreamscaping, experience design, and more.

Local Sponsorship

The Urban Lab garnered an outstanding amount of sponsorship for “Off the Rails” from local businesses along the Mason Corridor, demonstrating the community’s investment in the long-term future of the built environment. With community support, the Urban Lab believes that this competition will set the stage for a more vibrant, more engaging public space along Mason Street.

UniverCity Urban Lab is hosting “Off the Rails” in partnership with the City of Fort Collins and the Downtown Development Authority.

Laying the Foundation for Sustainable, Regenerative, Just Cities: EcoDistricts Summit 2016


katie_color.jpgKatie Vega

Sustainability Associate, Public Health


Sustainable. Regenerative. Equitable. Multi-generational. Community-driven. Collaborative. These six concepts stayed with me after my experience at the EcoDistricts Summit held at Denver University from September 13-15, 2016. The Summit is an annual conference hosted by EcoDistricts, a non-profit focused on developing a new model of urban regeneration and community development. The Summit convenes multi-disciplinary practitioners, researchers, experts, developers, professionals, academics, students, facilitators, and community members to collectively build a vision for a more sustainable and resilient future. IBE assisted in coordinating the Summit’s Research Forum, which took a deeper look at what’s needed to develop interdisciplinary teams across institutions to strengthen the bridge between collaborative research and practice.

As a new graduate and public health researcher, the EcoDistricts Summit was an incredible experience that inspired and challenged us to rise up and tackle existing and developing challenges in our own communities. My degree is in public health, but the Summit connected me to a large, diverse network of placemakers from the public and private sectors. During the three days, I saw firsthand how cross-disciplinary collaboration is the first critical step to better understanding topics like healthy community design, gentrification and displacement, clean energy and climate resilience, district-scale performance metrics, and urban regeneration. By opening the door to contributions from fields other than our own, we gain greater perspective on issues facing our increasingly urbanizing communities and can begin to develop truly innovative solutions.

During plenary sessions, examples of successful cross-disciplinary collaborations were shared from cities like Portland, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Panelists discussed the relationships that supported these neighborhood and district-scale projects, but most importantly, emphasized the community engagement that drove the efforts. Panelists argued that disinvestment in communities has led to increased gentrification and displacement in our cities and towns. In fact, the number of city tracts being gentrified has reached record proportions—such as in Portland, where 58% of eligible tracts have been gentrified since 2000, and Denver, close behind at 42% (ACS). Panelists shared strategies to create in-placement—from creating more affordable housing below 15% of Annual Median Income to launching Streetwyze, an online crowdsourced data tool that uses civic engagement to prioritize public investment.

One of the most important takeaways from the Summit was the notion that equity awareness should be institutionalized. This idea may seem like common sense, but the truth is that our city departments have placed most, if not all, of the responsibility for public health on a limited number of departments (such as Social Sustainability, Public Health, and the Housing Authority). In reality, departments across cities are responsible for the health of their citizens. A suggested approach is to engage leading community organizations in city planning processes and to invite community members to speak to City Council and individual departments. Perhaps by humanizing each department’s work, all city employees can be inspired to collaborate with fellow departments and community stakeholders to develop solutions that achieve health equity. No one person is responsible for all of the challenges rising in our urbanizing environment. Yet each person, no matter what field they represent, has important skills and experience to contribute toward solutions. This is the call to action that was put forth at the EcoDistricts Summit: We cannot take the weight of the world on our shoulders alone, but together—in collaboration with our cities, placemakers, and community members—we can create more sustainable, resilient, and equitable places.

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The relationship between IBE and EcoDistricts began almost two years ago when IBE was selected as a member of the Fort Collins EcoDistricts Incubator Team. Since then, IBE has been developing its approach to district-scale sustainability approaches in Fort Collins and Denver. As an EcoDistricts Summit partner, IBE participated in the Summit and assisted in coordinating the EcoDistricts Research Forum. Comprised of studio sessions, keynote speeches, plenary sessions, and tours of inspiring developments around Denver, the Summit provided an opportunity to network with community facilitators, professional landscape architects, and students from universities across the U.S., and to connect with a diverse group of advocates for healthy community development.

Resource
American Community Survey (ACS), 2009 – 2013. Retrieved at http://www.governing.com/gov-data/census/gentrification-in-cities-governing-report.html.