The San Francisco Foundation’s Program Director for Environment, Public Policy and Civic Engagement, Francesca Vietor, recently attended the White House Green Infrastructure Leadership Roundtable to discuss sustainability with senior officials from agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The roundtable provided an opportunity for leaders in the field to discuss the challenges and exchange ideas for the best strategies to achieving federal performance goals on green infrastructure.
As a high priority for President Obama, leaders spoke about investing in green infrastructure projects and funding advanced programs, such as systems that preserve water, the environment and improve communities. Vietor said to have a philanthropic partner be represented at the table was inspiring and a great opportunity to show what TSFF is doing in the Bay Area.
“The main impetus was to get them to commit to learning about green infrastructure and how to better implement it,” said Vietor. The EPA and HUD committed to investing in green infrastructure and implementing better water systems, which she says has multiple benefits for communities in the Bay Area.
HUD also announced billion dollars worth of grants for disaster resilience work in response to major disasters, Vietor says.
> “Green improves any neighborhood,” she said. For example, “being able to capture and reuse water, such a scarce resource, by building a park in a community that might not have any green space. What they’re doing is putting pervious pavement that absorbs water rather than release it into storm drains.”
The water is then captured underneath the pavement to be released either back into the ground or to be absorbed by the grass and trees in the community. A new park also gives kids recreational space and can decrease crime in a community, Vietor added.
The San Francisco Foundation has invested in multiple green programs throughout the Bay Area, including Urban Biofilter in Oakland which uses natural resources to improve air quality. The program has collaborated with local partners and used bamboo plants to filter air pollution from big rig trucks at the Port of Oakland.
Another funded program is the Watershed Project in Richmond, which nurtures and preserves unique, local ecosystems and educates students and teachers on how to conserve healthy watersheds.
With TSFF’s grant cycle opening in January, Vietor said, “We’re going to try and make it very clear that drought is a priority area to help, especially with the communities that we serve. We need to be more efficient with water systems.”
The agencies at the roundtable committed to providing resources and support at the federal level. Vietor says she looks forward to the continued collaboration.
For more information on TSFF, visit www.sff.org.