Effort will support sustainable GI projects and spur economic growth

NGICP logoDC Water (Washington, D.C.) and the Water Environment Federation on Feb. 8 announced (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) they are developing a National Green Infrastructure Certification Program. This program, which will be housed within the WEF Stormwater Institute, will certify individuals who install, inspect, and maintain green infrastructure systems. The program also subsequently, will help spur economic development in regions where significant GI investments are being made. Implementing green infrastructure projects in cities and regions not only protects the environment, but also offers economic benefits such as the creation of livable wage jobs for residents and social benefits such as increased community green space.

NGICP seal“Stormwater management is a priority for the District of Columbia and for many cities, not just in the U.S., but all over the world,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “It is increasingly recognized that GI offers an environmentally- and economically-beneficial management option. We’re excited to be working with DC Water and other recognized leaders in stormwater management to devise a national certification program that will support the development of a skilled workforce and the creation of jobs that contribute to sustainable communities.”

WEF will oversee the development of program components such as the policies and procedures, the job analysis, the exam blueprint and database and the curriculum; and DC Water and other partners will offer strategic vision, technical assistance and financial resources, said Stacy Passaro, the program’s manager.

To date, the coalition also includes the Milwaukee (Wis.) Metropolitan Sewerage District.


Meeting CSO requirements and job growth goals

This new certification program “will support DC Water’s recently announced legal agreement to construct large-scale [green infrastructure] to help control combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the District of Columbia,” according to the press release announcing the program.

In addition to helping reduce CSOs, these green infrastructure projects, which include bioretention including bioswales, planter boxes, curb extensions and rain gardens, pervious pavement, rain barrels, and green roofs, also will provide environmental, social, and economic benefits to Washington, D.C. and other U.S. cities. The program will support DC Water’s commitment to develop a local jobs creation program that includes green infrastructure training and certification opportunities for residents, the release says.

DC Water has a goal to have 51% of new jobs created by its green infrastructure projects filled by district residents. The projects also will engage professional service firms and contractors based in the district, according to the release.

DC Water CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins said that a “national certification program will ensure DC residents are prepared to work not only on DC Water projects, but it also positions them to benefit from the greater GI industry that is growing nationally.”


Plans underway

The certification will “verify that individuals performing the installation, inspection, and maintenance of green infrastructure have the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to support long-term performance and sustainability of these systems,” according to a WEF press release.

The program will be housed within WEF’s Stormwater Institute. The program’s structure and curriculum are being developed now with the first certifications expected in early 2017.

“Regular recertification will be required, possibly every 2 to 3 years because green infrastructure is evolving so rapidly right now and we want to make sure that certified workers stay current on best practices,” Passaro said. “The exact recertification time frame will be determined by the program’s governing body.”

WEF is building a website that will provide more detailed information about the new certification program as it is developed.

LaShell Stratton-Childers