Since the program launched in 2016, more than 500 U.S. professionals have now received credentials as graduates of the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP). NGICP provides entry-level workers with the skills to construct, inspect, and maintain green stormwater infrastructure according to international best-practice standards.
The program, developed by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) and DC Water (Washington, D.C.), aims to create a workforce fit for the quickly growing green-infrastructure sector as stresses related to climate change and urbanization drive demand for low-footprint flooding solutions.
But chronic stormwater flooding is not a problem unique to U.S. cities. Demand for professionals with the knowhow to manage green infrastructure is on the rise worldwide. In response, NGICP has expanded internationally, complete with a new, more appropriate name: the International Green Infrastructure Certification Program (IGICP).
Taking on flooding in New Zealand
With more than 100 cities and towns located in floodplains, many of which are experiencing historic booms in population, the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment cites flooding as the island nation’s most common and costly natural hazard. In Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, the local government’s development plan for the next 30 years features improved stormwater management as a key priority.
Recognizing the value of green infrastructure and technicians who support it, Auckland Council partnered with infrastructure consultancy WSP (Wellington, New Zealand) to introduce the IGICP curriculum to New Zealand. The partnership held a Train-the-Trainer session in May 2019, creating the first batch of certified trainers in New Zealand with the skills and knowledge to introduce entry-level workers to the world of green infrastructure.
This program “gives people the technical skills to enter the green workforce and earn a livable wage. We can’t continue as we are with the current skills gap and, as the owner of New Zealand’s largest stormwater asset, Auckland Council realized it needs to be part of the solution,” said Dukessa Blackburn-Huettner, who represents Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters department. “We want this training to have the widest possible benefit and for it to be suitable and sustainable in the long term.”
The first class of New Zealand trainers contained 14 technical experts and decision-makers from both the public and private sector. The partnership launched the first set of New Zealand training sessions and exams this month.
Building on success
Back in the U.S., IGICP staff continue to expand the program’s reach.
In 2019 alone, 13 classes of hopeful green-infrastructure professionals underwent training sessions around the country before taking certification exams. WEF and DC Water are working alongside additional partners to design an alternative pathway to the exam for applicants without a high school education, set to launch next summer.
The program also is seeking accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI; Washington, D.C.), a nonprofit organization that develops consistent standards for new U.S. products and services. IGICP currently is engaged in a thorough ANSI auditing process. Staff hope to receive accreditation by the end of 2019, which will distinguish IGICP from similar certification programs in the low-impact development space.
Learn more about IGICP at the program’s website.