| ||Environmental and Sustainability Awards 2005|
The redevelopment of the former Fort Devens demonstrates that sustainable development works as both a planning tool and a program of redevelopment. Devens is difficult to categorize into any of the award categories. The holistic and systems based integrated approach to its redevelopment makes it difficult to break down into specific award categories. We have developed systems to educate our community about sustainability practices — our EcoStar Action Guide (workbook) goes into great detail on all of the areas listed in the awards program (see attached). This comprehensive approach and regional scale (applicability to both Devens, the region — both Nashoba Valley and the Fitchburg Line Working Group) is touched on in the accompanying narrative. The program will produce quantifiable cost savings as firms participating in the EcoStar program document their results and our shared waste collection and recycling program gets off the ground. The Devens Enterprise Commission has adopted a buy recycled program and the EcoStar program goes into great detail regarding EPP and firmly links EPP and sustainability.
Our regulatory framework promotes sustainability in all aspects as part of the Devens redevelopment program. With 15 members joining EcoStar the program growth category might also be relevant. EcoStar by itself might qualify for innovation and creativity of work, but Devens as a whole must also be considered in this category. Hence I will submit this narrative of Devensí sustainable development program as crafted by the Devens Enterprise Commission and our partner in Devensí redevelopment, Mass Development.
The redevelopment of Devens is grounded in the concept of sustainable development. The Reuse (master) Plan defines Sustainable Development as "balancing social, environmental and economic issues and meeting the needs of future generations." In the Devens Enterprise Commission Regulations, all applicants seeking to develop at Devens are required to address the following questions: "Goals: including a discussion of how the proposed development is 'sustainable' (how it meets the needs of future generations) and how it materially contributes to a sustainable economy. How does the proposed development contribute to the diversity of uses at Devens? How does it provide employment opportunities for persons with a range of skills and experience levels?"
Devens is located in North Central Massachusetts and is comprised of 4400+/-Acres, of which only 1800 acres are slated for development. The balance includes open space lands including 500 acres of grounds, an award winning sustainable certified golf course (Red Tail), land added on to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge and Mirror Lake. The Reuse Plan and redevelopment process placed a limit of 8.5 Million SF of redevelopment at Devens.
The base was selected for Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in 1991. As part of the screening process which occurs during base closure, federal agencies and homeless shelter providers screened the base; resulting in a Federal prison hospital, the Shriver Jobs Corps, Central Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Assisted Housing and Sylviaís Haven (homeless womenís shelter) locating at Devens. Redevelopment efforts to date have created 3000+/- jobs since 1996 when based was turned over to the State (Mass Development owns the property and the Devens Enterprise Commission or DEC serves as the permitting and regulatory authority for the redevelopment). Devens has approximately 4 Million SF of redevelopment at this date (July 2004) and utilizes a unique expedited permitting program (Unified Permit) to help maintain market niche. Devens is also listed as a Superfund Site, but is nearing the point where it will seek to be removed from the list, after years of successful remediation and clean up efforts.
One of the things that is special about Devens is its formal commitment to Sustainable base redevelopment, as seen in the DEC's regulatory environment and programs. These came about in large part because of the Devens Charette conducted by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) in 1993. Charettes are an excellent vehicle for generating community consensus around a vision for the future. Within the charette process at Devens three groups focused on industrial ecology, zero emissions industry and no waste systems, similar to a biological system. Thus sustainable development became an organizing principle for the redevelopment of Devens.
Devens is an excellent example of good planning. The Reuse Plan and By-Laws, developed by Vannese Hangen Brustlin (VHB), identified resource areas and directed development away from aquifers, habitat areas, flood plain and the like. The results speak for themselves. 2600 acres of Devens are to remain undeveloped. A large part of this land was transferred to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish & Game), including all of the floodplain of the Nashua River. The redevelopment included the restoration of contaminated wetlands as well. Today Devens is one of a handful of Massachusetts communities with approximately 25% of its area permanently protected — and one goal of the proposed update to the Devens Open Space and Recreation Plan goal is to bring this percentage closer to 33%.
One of the unique features of the Devens redevelopment is the one stop permitting process via the DEC's unified development permit. New projects are permitted within 75 days and the entire Devens project has been pre-permitted through the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. One of the most prudent of sustainable development options is to reuse existing buildings. Regulations provide incentives to reuse existing buildings (21 day administrative approval versus 75 day unified permit process which includes a public hearing). Many states and provinces are investigating amending building codes to encourage infill development and redevelopment of existing buildings.
Measuring Devens Success
Devens has been a success by any measure. Our development status as of July, 2004 includes: reused buildings 372,441 sf; new construction/renovation 3,279,837; current pipeline 330,000 sf; and potential expansions: 1,002,800 sf. We have seen a private investment of $435 million, a public investment $118 Million, 75 businesses established at Devens, and 3000 jobs created with a $130 Million payroll. Yet sustainable development is more than just jobs created and square feet constructed. Devens has been cleaned up by the redevelopment team of the EPA, Massachusetts DEP, the Army and Mass Development (also known as the Base Closure Team or BCT). This clean up process produced a total investment of $117 million; 200 underground tanks removed; issuance of a Tier 1A permit; 90% of leased parcels cleaned up and transferred; and 6 unlined landfills consolidated into one lined landfill.
Devens has about 500 people living here at present and is adding another 180 housing units over the next few years. DEC regulations require the developer to market product to employees of firms on Devens and in the area as a priority. New units are intended to be energy star rated or better to reduce their impact on the environment. And the development must be 25% affordable, addressing issues of equity that are a component of the sustainable development equation. The social component of Devens is further augmented by the location of a number of institutions at Devens, including the Guild of St. Agnes Daycare facility, the Shirley schools Elementary and Middle Schools, the Parker Charter School, the Seven Hills facility for mentally challenged young adults, Loaves and Fishes food pantry, and Mount Wachusett Community College and its attendant workforce training programs.
Devens hosts over 100,000 visitors a year to the various events programmed by Mass Development's recreation department. This provides an excellent opportunity to educate the public about sustainable development that Devens has yet to effectuate.
Sustainable Indicators Report
In 1999 the DEC conducted a Sustainable Indicators program for Devens which resulted in the development of two programs, both of which are currently on hold because of fiscal issues. The Devens Transportation Management Initiative and the Devens Green Building Grant program.
The indicators report identified a need for better access to the MBTA's commuter rail service in Ayer and Shirley. The DEC began meeting with the two regional planning agencies servicing the Fitchburg Commuter Rail line, the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) and the Montachusetts Regional Planning Commission (MRPC). This coalition, known as the Fitchburg Line Working Group has been formalized by an act of the legislature, resulted in a study of the line by the MBTA and produced the reintroduction of an express train to Boston. This coalition has also worked with our legislative delegation to insert earmarked funding for the line into the latest federal transportation reauthorization bill. As the MBTA study nears completion, we expect to see more concrete results emerge from its recommendations.
To encourage businesses to explore the opportunities and savings potential of a certified green building, the DEC voted to offer a grant of up to 15% of a firms' Unified Permit Fee, not to exceed $10,000, if a building became certified through the US Green Building Councilís Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) program. The DEC changed its regulations to require a firm to fill out the Sustainable Sites LEED Checklist. Many firms find that they are just a few points away from certification based on the requirements found in the DEC Regulations. We are hoping this causes them to take the extra steps necessary to become certified.
Eco-Industrial Development at Devens
What differentiates Devens from other sustainable developments is our commitment to eco-industrial development/industrial ecology. Eco-industrial development argues that a group of industries acting as part of a system will out perform an individual firm. This could look like one firmís waste stream being another firm's raw material source, or shared training and marketing endeavors. The DEC has conducted a number of baseline studies to assess the inputs and outputs of firms at Devens in order to assess by-product exchange potentials and has conducted on-going educational sessions about industrial ecology and eco-industrial development over the past five years. This has resulted in the development of an environmental achievement and branding program (EcoStar), which was launched in February, 2005. To date, EcoStar has 15 members from among the business community of Devens, Ayer, Harvard and Shirley.
EcoStar was created to strengthen eco-industrial park concept; provide businesses with technical assistance; strengthen communications networks; create linkages among firms, and between the community and firms; and has as a goal to design program that is pro-business and pro-environment.
The program recognizes businesses that achieve ten core standards and five optional standards from a list of twenty five standards created by a steering committee comprised of business, community and environmental representatives. Once a firm is certified as an achiever, it may use the EcoStar logo on its products and services. Progress to date includes publishing the 104 page workbook using a standard template for each of the twenty-five standards. The workbook is augmented by workshops intended to assist firms in achieving the standards. The EcoStar logo was created in the Spring of 2003. The Steering Committee also developed a benefits package for participants and achievers. The committee's efforts to date have received funding from DEP and from Intel.
For example, one standard actually developed contract language for ecological landscaping services requiring number of education contact hours about ecological landscaping and a plan from the contractor quantifying the lesser environmental impact resulting from this approach. The goal is to change the way landscapers deal with maintenance issues by making their practices more ecological. In this case, contracts are the vehicle for change.
The DEC and EcoStar are committed to evaluation. This included working with Eco Industrial Working group of Cornell University (which has since evolved into the Eco-Industrial Development Council) to hold a workshop at Devens in 2000. Mr. Lowitt currently serves on the board of the EIDC. With international visitors participating in the workshop, the EcoStar program is being touted internationally and has become the basis for a similar program run by the Industrial Estates Authority of Thailand. EcoStar and the DEC are committed to continuous environmental improvement.
At this point in time, our Sustainable Development programs such as EcoStar have reduced the mental distance between firms at Devens. Many of the firms now see themselves as part of a system of industries. While we have a small number of by-product exchanges but no major process exchanges have been created at this point. We will be concluding a solid waste master plan shortly which is examining providing collective waste disposal, by-product exchange facilitation, reuse/recycling services to all firms and residents at Devens, expandable to businesses in the region.
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