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National Capital Region Highlights

Master of Natural Resources students benefit from grant to improve green infrastructure practice

Virginia Tech's Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability in the College of Natural Resources and Environment has received a $35,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation Higher Educational Partnership program. The grant will be used by students in the National Capital Region's Master of Natural Resources (MNR) program to improve green infrastructure through service learning projects and workshops.

People-Map

Mapping activity helps students illustrate opportunities

and challenges for regional planners and decisions makers

to maximize green infrastructure assets

Green infrastructure is an approach to planning and development that conserves and enhances ecosystem services. Ranging from site-scale features such as rain gardens and green roofs to landscape-scale stream corridors and forest canopies, green infrastructure offers a cost-efficient way for local communities, cities, and metropolitan regions to address challenges such as stormwater management and urban cooling, while simultaneously improving livability and community economic development.

Grants from the Dominion Higher Educational Partnership program better align Dominion's work force needs with the company's support of higher education. The Dominion Foundation awards approximately $1 million in higher educational partnership grants throughout Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and in targeted localities in New England, Maryland, and North Carolina to accredited institutions of higher education -- colleges and universities, community colleges, and vocational, technical, or trade schools -- and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

CSI-2

Students and faculty from the natural resources

program discussed green infrastructure during a

trip to Guangxi Province in China in 2011

"Energy, environment, and education are among the most critical concerns for the future of our country,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president, and chief executive officer. “Dominion will continue to support schools, teachers, and students who are working to find solutions that will improve life for generations to come. Our support begins in the classrooms.”

The grant awarded to Virginia Tech will support a Green Infrastructure Workbench engaging interdisciplinary teams of graduate students, coached by faculty and expert consultants, to design innovative green infrastructure solutions for real-world clients and to aggregate, organize, and share successful green infrastructure strategies among local communities and practitioners via an interactive website and online community of practice. The proposal for the Green Infrastructure Workbench was an extension of a variety of other green infrastructure related work that the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability has been involved with over the last three years, said Courtney Kimmel, associate director of the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability Learning, who is leading the green infrastructure program area.

Kimmel said there are four primary objectives for students involved in Green Infrastructure Workbench projects: to understand green infrastructure as a sustainable development system and use it to promote ecosystem services; to become familiar with the wide range of conceptual and professional aspects of green infrastructure planning, development, and implementation; to practice systems thinking, creative problem definition, and project management skills; and to contribute to the advancement of green infrastructure implementation across the US and around the world.

XMNR-creek

Students visit site of stream restoration project at

Donaldson Run in Arlington County, Va.

“We are very pleased that the Dominion Foundation has provided Virginia Tech with support to further our students’ work in this important area,” Kimmel said. “We envision that service learning modules and case studies will elevate best practices and produce innovative green infrastructure solutions to challenging environmental problems that will help us influence the next generation of sustainable development professionals, including natural resource managers, land-use planners, and environmental policy makers.”

The MNR is the graduate education component of the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, focused on global trends and prevailing forces that will have significant impacts on the planet and global society. The MNR degree is offered in different formats to provide opportunities for students to select a path that most closely compliments their own personal interests and professional aspirations, including a range of graduate and professional certificates.

Posted September 20, 2012