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4-A Collaborative: Kansas City Design Professionals for Regional Sustainability

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In March 2008, the Kansas City chapters of American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Planning Association (APA), American Public Works Association (APWA), and American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) began meeting for the very first time on regional design issues. The issue that brought these organizations together was sustainability and, more specifically, the region's desire to be one of the greenest metro areas. The underlying driver was water and how to manage water as a resource instead of a liability. These four professional organizations, in cooperation with the regional planning agency Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), formed an interdisciplinary partnership of allied planning and design professionals committed to identifying and developing resources, principles, and strategies that promote sustainability throughout the Kansas City region.

The main goal of this new joint committee is to promote sustainable designs for the continued growth, development, and re-development of the Kansas City metro region in ways that support the triple bottom line of economics, environment, and people. The current objectives of the committee are to educate and inform; communicate; collaborate; advocate; and equip. To date, the committee has made progress on all of these objectives with a large effort on collaboration and equipping the region with tools that will lead to more sustainable, greener designs to manage water. The committee has examined parking lots, streets/streetscapes, and low impact development as possible projects for collaborative design. This process has identified deficiencies in existing regional design standards and planning regulations that would impede the implementation of green, more sustainable solutions that manage water at the source. Through these exercises the committee is building a list of regional needs that can be addressed separately by the appropriate professional organization or by the municipalities. In addition, the committee is also developing a Kansas City Metro Report Card that would rate cities and projects for being sustainable. Overall this joint committee is serving as an important technical resource for the region on developing the strategies and tools to make the Kansas City Metro a greener more sustainable city.

This paper will provide an overview of the goals and practices of the collaborative commission, discuss challenges and triumphs of the programs, and outline the overall process which can be adapted by other regions.
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Keywords: Sustainable designs; committee; professional organizations; regional collaboration

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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