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November 3rd, 2010
BLUEPRINT AMERICA
Blueprint North Carolina, Indiana and Illinois

Alexis Pancrazi, Blueprint America

Blueprint North Carolina

North Carolina is embarking on an exciting smart growth project; seven locations across the state are developing conservation-based affordable housing. The name essentially gives it away but the idea is that homeowners don’t need to be saddled with the choice between fiscal responsibility and environmental conservation, traditionally thought to be at odds.

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Location site of one of North Carolina's conservation based affordable housing development plans

Could this be the wave of the future in North Carolina? Possibly. No idea was off the table this past June during the North Carolina Communities Summit, “Re-Think, Re-Design and Re-build.”

200 people trekked out to Charlotte, NC for this summit spanning the course of two days. The event had an array of big name sponsors: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, NeighborWorks America and the NC Triangle Chapter, US Green Building Council and the North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations.

Aside from pros and cons of conservation based subdivisions, the summit also touched upon alternative community arrangements such as eco-villages and work-based cooperative housing. Which is not to say more traditional sustainable development techniques were neglected–also discussed were the possibilities for recycling underused real-estate sites through rezoning and transforming brownfields.

Keep a look out in UNC-TV for highlights from the summit in upcoming local Blueprint America specials.

Blueprint Indiana

In Indiana, the infrastructure buzz word this year is… water.

A new local documentary produced by Indiana local PBS WFYI’s Gary Harris, “Drop By Drop: Protecting Indiana’s Water Supply,” examines the state of Indiana’s water system, with disheartening results.

The documentary is a panoramic picture of the imperfections and deterioration of Indiana’s water system, and disasters loom as raw sewage bubbles out of the ground in one town and decaying septic tanks threaten to poison groundwater. Not only are we wasting gallons of water every day, but the infrastructure that cleans, recycles, and delivers our water is being strangled by its own poor planning and decay.

Watertower in Francesville, Indiana
Watertower in Francesville, Indiana

For most of us, water is commonplace, spilling easily from our tap in the background of our daily lives. In its ubiquity, it’s easy to forget just how precious it is. By putting Indiana’s state water system under the spotlight, this documentary reminds us that we need to be more careful with our resources, and smarter about how we protect them.

Not only are people talking about water in Indiana, they’re also social networking about it! Or they will be… In October of this year WFYI held its first ever Public Media camp to talk about how to use it to their advantage to bring sustainability and green issues into the public eye. Thirty local citizens attended, including the owner/operators of two public community radio stations nearby, staff from WOSU, and others in the sustainability and media communities.

Blueprint Illinois

With the Climate Reduction Act of 2008, East Peoria, IL pledged to become a “cool city,” and set up a Green Team to push forward a sustainable development agenda. Their strategy has been to make incremental but significant tweaks throughout the community to lower energy output and increase the use of renewable technology.

For example, the city installed solar trickle chargers, which utilize energy from the sun to keep batteries at full charge, in cop cars thereby reducing the amount of times batteries need to be replaced over the cruisers’ life spans. WTVP outlined some more of these projects in the following video:

But the burden is not solely on the city’s shoulders to pave the way for greener future. With that in mind, the Green Team also encourages citizens to measure their own energy output in their homes to enable them to recognize their carbon footprint. The necessary equipment is made available to borrow for no cost at the local library.

Along those same lines, WTVP has produced this video of practical advice for committing yourself to a sustainable lifestyle through the power of your purse:

WTVP has been steadily working on several sustainable projects and videos over the summer. Their first opportunity to showcase their work was at the Central Illinois Green Expo on September 10th and 11th. Keep your eye out for the Green Team on upcoming WTVP Blueprint America stories!

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