Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the creation of a city incentives program to encourage the spread of green stormwater infrastructure in the City of Houston.
The incentives mark the first step toward developing a robust green infrastructure program complemented by municipal projects in partnership with private development.
"Green infrastructure in development projects will allow project backers and city neighborhoods to realize economic, social and environment benefits, while enhancing the resilience of our city," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
Green infrastructure manages rainwater by mimicking how rain falls on undeveloped, green landscape. Typical design elements include green roofs, rain garden bio-retention systems, permeable pavements, rainwater harvesting, urban forests, constructed wetlands and other strategies to manage rainwater. It improves the performance of drainage systems and can make real estate projects safer and more attractive to buyers.
Green infrastructure ties into the City’s emerging resilience strategy, reducing drainage concerns, encouraging water conservation, contributing to readiness of neighborhoods to withstand unusual weather, and promoting public health, among other benefits.
For example, a Bagby Street green infrastructure project incorporates raingardens, permeable pavers, and native vegetation that help capture more water during rain events and provide a beautiful landscape amenity to the neighborhood;
the Houston Independent School District Carnegie Vanguard High School’s green roof captures rainwater, reduces the “heat island effect” and encourages water conservation while providing a recreation space for students. (See photos).
The recommended incentives are the result of a study, commissioned by the City of Houston's chief recovery officer and funded by Houston Endowment, to identify and recommend incentives encouraging the use of green infrastructure in private land development in the city.
The incentives are:
Integrated GSI Development Rules: The City will adopt rules that harmonize parking, landscaping, open space, drainage design, detention design and stormwater quality design requirements.
Property Tax Abatements: The City will defer or reduce property tax bills for developers who use GSI in their projects.
Award and Recognition Program: The City will recognize and award developers who use GSI.
Increased Permitting Process Certainty and Speed:The City will provide a fee-based, more consistent and faster plan review process, with lower fees associated with projects that use GSI.
Mayor Turner sees these new incentives as integral to implementing the City’s Building Houston Forward program, its emerging Climate Action Plan and its resilience strategy that is part of the 100 Resilient Cities Program – pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation and supported by Shell.
The details of the new Houston Incentives for Green Development will be completed and formally adopted in the coming months in concert with stakeholders.
To learn more and access the report, visit www.houstontx.gov/igd