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Louisville Is Offering an Incentive For Green Infrastructure

Green Roof
Louisville Metro Housing Authority

Louisville’s Office of Sustainability is making additional funds available to commercial buildings that install green infrastructure projects this year.

Projects like green roofs, rain gardens and pervious pavement are all eligible.

The new incentive program is meant to pair with one already offered by Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District. MSD pays money per square foot for projects that keep stormwater out of the city’s combined sewer system. The agency is under a federal consent decree to reduce sewer overflows.

Metro Government’s program will provide additional funds to smaller projects—those that get $50,000 or less from MSD. It’ll match up to $10,000 of those funds.

“[This program] is a good way to leverage an existing program in the community and then kick it up a notch,” Sustainability Director Maria Koetter said.

There’s $100,000 available in the incentive program, and it will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis through June 2015. Koetter said the main goals of the program are to reduce stormwater runoff, but some of the eligible projects will also help reduce Louisville’s urban heat island effect. The city’s urban core is warming at the fastest rate in the country, when compared to nearby countryside.

“Vegetative roofs are the most impactful way to reduce our heat island because of the fact that they immediately absorb stormwater and they get rid of black roof or dark roof space and provide green surface. Which also helps improve air quality,” Koetter said.

As of February 2014—the last time the city took an inventory—there were 18 green roofs in Louisville covering about 3.3 acres. The largest ones are on the Mazzoli Federal Building, the American Life Building, Metro Development Center and the Louisville Housing Authority. Green roofs are more expensive to install than traditional roofs, but result in more energy savings over time.

Koetter said the incentive program is funded with city money through a new line item in her office’s budget.

(Image: The green roof on Louisville Metro Housing Authority's Vine Street building. Courtesy LMHA.)

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.