New tool to help communities go green efficiently
by Andrew Pavia
Mar 20, 2013 | 443 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Franco Montalto explains the LIDRA project to the Newtown Creek Alliance and community leaders.
Dr. Franco Montalto explains the LIDRA project to the Newtown Creek Alliance and community leaders.
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It's now easier to determine how stormwater runoff and “green” infrastructure can impact an area thanks to a model created by a professor from Drexel University. The goal of this model is to

The Low Impact Development Rapid Assessment (LIDRA) use a website that can work in real time to determine strengths and weaknesses of a plan to help alleviate storm water runoff. The creators hope it will help community members and elected officials efficiently outline a concept for fixing runoff in a specified area.

At a recent meeting held at LaGuardia Community College with the Newtown Creek Alliance, Dr. Franco Montalto explained how his model works by using the neighborhood of Sunnyside as an example.

“The goal was to automate the well understood but tedious and difficult to teach stuff,” he said.

Montalto said the types of green infrastructure in the model are randomly assigned properties to show the difference in options.

For instance, the plan of creating a green roof would have different results than if the community decided to have rain barrels simply collect the water.

The program will then spits out the numbers, such as estimated cost, how much runoff would be prevented, and how long the project would take to implement.

In the case of Sunnyside, one example was to create rain gardens. However, LIDRA showed that it would cost roughly $3.25 million to create and only reduces runoff by 5.5 percent.

“A lot of this stuff sounds good but it is not going to happen,” said Dan Miner, senior vice president of the Long Island City Partnership

He said that the adoption rates of voluntarily projects, like having building owners spring for rain barrels or create a garden to deal with runoff, are “widely optimistic.”

Miner went on to say that government incentives, such as tax breaks for buying the barrels or building a garden, would benefit the model and make it more useful for community officials.

He pointed out that creating a system within LIDRA that would show how local business could interact with each other to get the proposed projects completed would also strengthen LIDRA.

“These are all hypothetical,” Miner said.

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