MSD Green Infrastructure Incentive Program - Featured Project: Solid Light

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Louisville MSD’s Green Infrastructure Incentive Program, which began in 2010, is celebrating its 100th project by announcing how the program has improved the environment and saved money for the people of Louisville.

Here are some of the successes:

  • Year the program started: 2010
  • Total incentive funds allocated to date: About $12 million
  • Total amount invested (public and private money) in green infrastructure to date: $25 million
  • Total projects program has supported: 100
  • Annual stormwater capture volume of program (amount of water the program prevents from entering the sewer treatment system per year): About 300 million gallons      
  • Impervious surface the program controls: About 12 million square feet (275 acres) is now managed sustainably with green infrastructure solutions
  • Estimated water treatment cost savings to MSD customers: $4.5 million 

Additional Sustainability Efforts and Successes

In 2015, Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Sustainability began offering matching funds for green infrastructure projects that receive MSD’s incentive funds and meet certain requirements. To date, incentives have helped control storm water runoff from more than 500,000 square feet of impervious surface. 

Over time, the program has reduced the size and cost of alternative major multi-year MSD construction projects, occasionally eliminating the need for projects altogether.

The program has reduced the amount of pollutants—like trash, oil, fuel, grease and sediment—that enters the city’s stormwater runoff, which can end up in a local creek or stream when it rains. This has prevented unnecessary damage to the environment, wildlife habitats and recreational waterways, making Louisville a more attractive place to live. 

Featured Project: Solid Light’s New Headquarters in Louisville’s SoBro Neighborhood:

 Solid Light – a Louisville-based, full-service firm that plans, designs and builds exhibits and visitor destinations – recently moved into its new headquarters. The company transformed a 1940s-era building in the SoBro District, an area of downtown Louisville, and collaborated with MSD and the Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Sustainability to install several green infrastructure solutions for its new building. This public/private partnership is projected to have a substantial cost-saving and environmental impact:

  • Total incentive funds allocated to the project: $121,000
  • Total amount invested (public and private) in green infrastructure for the project: About $521,000      
  • Annual storm water capture volume of project: About 1.75 million gallons     
  • Impervious surface the project controls: About 64,000 square feet (1.5 acres) is now managed sustainably by green infrastructure solutions
  • Water treatment cost savings to MSD customers: About $25,000      
  • Average annual overflow volume (AAOV) reduction of project: About 280,000 gallons 

Background 

MSD’s Green Infrastructure Program – which focuses on utilizing natural or engineered systems that mimic natural processes – is designed to locate, build or incentivize opportunities for green solutions to stormwater management. 

Solutions include the installation of infrastructure such as bio-retention basins, green roads and alleys, permeable pavement sidewalks and parking lots, rain gardens and barrels, and vegetated roofs. 

These green infrastructure solutions intercept and sustainably manage stormwater that would otherwise need to be treated at a MSD Water Quality Treatment Center.    

“Impervious surfaces” are surfaces such as asphalt or concrete that cannot absorb rainwater. When new development occurs, natural landscapes are often replaced with these impervious surfaces, causing additional stormwater runoff. This increases the amount of water flowing into the sewer system and heightens demands on local storage tanks and treatment facilities. These surfaces can also introduce more pollutants – like trash, oil, fuel, grease and sediment – into the stormwater runoff, which can end up in a local creek or stream when it rains. This causes damage to the environment by degrading wildlife habitats and impairing recreational waterways.     

The green infrastructure solutions MSD builds and incentivizes allow impervious surfaces to behave more naturally; rain gardens, bioswales and infiltration trenches capture the increased runoff generated by impervious surfaces, filter out most of the pollutants and infiltrate the stormwater runoff back into the ground.

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About MSD The Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) works to achieve and maintain clean, environmentally safe waterways for a healthy and vibrant community. The organization’s more than 600 employees provide wastewater management, drainage and flood protection services across the 376 square miles of Louisville Metro. In addition to operating and maintaining Louisville Metro’s sewer system, floodwall system, water quality treatment centers and flood pumping stations, MSD invests in hundreds of infrastructure improvement projects each year, plants more than 1,000 trees and other vegetation annually to enhance water filtration and reduce runoff, and provides numerous outreach programs to inform and educate the community about protecting our waterways.

About Louisville Metro Government Office of Sustainability Mayor Greg Fischer formed the Louisville Metro Office of Sustainability in 2012 with a mission of promoting environmental conservation, the health, wellness and prosperity of our citizens, and embedding sustainability into the culture of the Louisville community. The Office of Sustainability works to create a culture of sustainability through broad-based education and awareness efforts as well as implementation of projects and initiatives to influence behavior change.

About Solid Light Solid Light is a Louisville-based, full-service firm that plans, designs and builds exhibits and visitor destinations across the country that engage, enlighten, and inspire. As passionate champions of their clients’ visions, Solid Light’s team of architects, designers, writers, filmmakers and project managers bring powerful stories to life through comprehensive, start-to-finish content, design, fabrication and installation services.

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