Concrete jungles may be the greenest neighborhoods of all

Portland is home to 91 bike corrals. More than 130 green roofs dot the sky of Toronto. And did you know San Francisco’s MUNI bus fleet uses biodiesel?

While in ancient times green was the symbol of regeneration and rebirth, today green is the symbol of a vibrant, innovative Downtown.

“It was not long ago that the term ‘green’ as it relates to commercial real estate was taboo language,” says James A. Richardson, City of Jacksonville environmental protection board administrator. “Developers and owners of existing buildings could not wrap their heads around the fact that the cost of more efficient buildings would have a positive impact on their bottom lines.”

Today, we know that “going green” makes sense – and cents. Commercial real estate professionals have seen green buildings achieve higher occupancy, above-market rents, long-term tenancy, lower operating costs and higher sale prices.

Last year, five Downtown buildings were awarded a total of $105,000, in grants from the City’s Commercial Building Energy Challenge. In addition, the Bank of America Tower was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The City of Jacksonville also recently installed solar-powered parking meters Downtown.

Downtown Vision, Inc. formed a Downtown Green Collaborative in Summer 2010 to help make Downtown Jacksonville the most sustainable neighborhood in Northeast Florida. The DGC focuses on education and awareness of the importance of sustainability practices, which promote environmental responsibility and economic viability.

As part of this collaborative, DVI helped find a Downtown home for a sustainability project currently in the works – the Sustainability Resource Center. The North Florida Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is in the fundraising phase of this project, which is slated to occupy vacant retail space on Duval Street across from the Main Library.

But urban sustainability is not just about infrastructure – the lifestyle as a whole is a greener one, with transportation, business and housing options having considerably less environmental impact, as residents and workers share services and walk, bike or take public transportation daily.

Share your thoughts on green initiatives for Downtown Jacksonville.