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Croton Project Featured in Wired Magazine

Great Ecology is pleased to announce that Wired Magazine listed the Croton Water Filtration Plant in New York as one of “25 Masterpieces that Prove 2016 was an Incredible Year for Architecture.” The water filtration plant is built underground and includes a 9-acre green roof that features a golf course. The innovative design was created by Grimshaw, to whom Great Ecology acted as the ecological consultant. Great Ecology planned and designed constructed wetlands for the site. The wetlands, whose construction is set to begin this spring, will capture and store storm and waste water from the site, process and improve the quality of this water, and then recycle it for reuse onsite. Additionally, Great Ecology helped designed the bioswales in the plaza.

Croton Water Filtration Plant Under Construction

Croton Water Filtration Plant Under Construction

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Great Ecology Launches Office in Madrid, Spain

Great Ecology is pleased to announce that we have launched an office in Madrid, Spain led by Alejandro Baladrón Julian, M.S., a specialist in hydrology, and Carlos Rivero Moro, M.S., a sustainability expert.  We are excited to establish an international presence, and for the opportunity it presents to make a positive impact on the environment worldwide.

Alejandro and Carlos have a combined experience of more than 16 years in the environmental services field. Together, they recently competed in the Climate Launchpad clean tech business idea European Union finals competition. There, they presented an urban management solution to model the movement of energy within urban areas. Learn more about that project in our news archives and about Alejandro and Carlos on our staff page.

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ADB Holds First Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific


ADB president Takehiko Nakao leads the opening plenary of the first ADB Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific. Image: Eco-Business

Original news article on eco-business.com.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) this week hosted its inaugural Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific, which features high-level talks and panel discussions on sustainable business opportunities in the region.

The forum was held at the ADB Headquarters in Manila from November 22 to 24 amid the need to address Asia’s own socio-economic and environmental challenges – such as climate change, population growth, dwindling natural resources, land degradation and water and air pollution – through sustainability in the region’s economic development.

According to ADB, Asia is home to 60 per cent of the world’s current population which are fast migrating from rural areas to overpopulated urban centers. The region comprises nearly 40 per cent of global output and contributes 60 per cent to global growth.

This raises the need for building resilience through sustainable business growth.

Global as well as regional experts and frontliners from government, the private sector, and academia in areas like green financing, technology and sustainability brought to the table principles and best practices in sustainable business that can be applied to spur green growth in the region, specifically in the areas of agriculture, eco-tourism and services.

On the first day of the forum, answers to some of the common barriers to sustainable business were raised. These included how to have an enabling policy and regulatory framework in place to support sustainable business, how to create a strong and consistent market for environmental goods and services, how to access funding, how to use technological innovations in green business set-ups and most importantly, how to make money while going green.

ADB president Takehiko Nakao said at the opening plenary: “We’ve had so many forums like sustainable transport, water management and clean energy, and also how cities can be cleaner. But in a sense this forum is focusing on the profitability of doing all these things and I think there is great potential.”

UNEP executive director Erik Solheim, who joined Nakao in the panel, said Asia will take a driving seat in spurring sustainable business in the world.

“In a few years Asia will lead, and at the core of that is China,” Solheim said. “The most important issue is the issue of mindset. People see the environment as a cost instead of an enormous business opportunity.”

Other speakers at the opening plenary were Dr Madhu Khanna from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in Urbana, Illinois, Bangladesh Environment and Forestry Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary Regina Lopez, and Daniel Spitzer from the Bhutan-based Mountain Hazelnuts Group.

‘Green can make money’

To help establish a strong sustainable business sector in the region, Nakao expressed ADB’s commitment to lend funding to more public and private sector groups that are pursuing green growth initiatives.

He highlighted that in the Philippines, ADB issued green bonds which financed private sector geo-thermal power plant projects while in China, ADB funded initiatives to address the imminent issues of water, soil and air pollution. Nakao said these issues have to be addressed seriously to avoid causing social instability in countries.

“Perhaps the very important focus of this forum is that green can make money. It is about profit.” Nakao said. “The market is ready for environmentally-sustainable food and products. Consumers are ready to pay a little bit more.”

He added: “Fifty years ago, when we started ADB, the main agenda was how to feed people. But today it is about climate change and environmental sustainability. It’s not because of COP21. It’s not about the Sustainable Development Goals. Asian countries want this. People want this. And ADB is reacting to that.”

‘Name and fame’

Underscoring that there is a strong business case for green products and services in Asia, the forum discussion moved to identify enabling policies and regulatory frameworks that must be in place to ensure that green businesses thrive.

Dr Khanna said that in order for existing businesses to be motivated to adopt sustainability, there has to be a policy push from the government, and that governments may mandate businesses to go green but without being punitive.

Government policies will ensure there will be a long-term demand for environment goods and services, Dr Khanna said.

For example, in the aviation industry, the push from Europe to impose carbon tax on flights based on the airlines’ fuel consumption is leading the aviation industry to shift towards renewable fuels, she explained.

“The combination of technical expertise [from universities] as well as the policy push is what creates the demand for these technologies,” Dr Khanna said.

She added that market-driven incentives that have been created by civil society also lead to a demand for green business, making them profitable.

“We’re seeing a shift to that now. China is a leading country in terms of ISO certifications in most recent years and far surpassed the rest of the countries. Why is China’s companies doing that? It’s a way for them to gain access to European and western markets,” she said.

For his part, Solheim said that international forums and financing facilities such as the G20 and the recently-launched Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility in Jakarta will also help drive sustainable business.

“We’re now going into green finance through the G20, which is the most powerful vehicle for regulating markets. China leads in the green finance at the front and centre. Germany is continuing. They want financial disclosure. Which means that companies should disclose their bank assets in an environment and not just in a financial way.”

Solheim added that if a company had caused abuses to the environment, then it must be disclosed.

“On the positive note, if you have green [investments] in your portfolio, that should be made open to everyone so that we could name and fame your business.” he added.

Both Nakao and Solheim concurred that governments have enormous impacts on the sustainable business market by the way they allocate budgets to support green growth, enforce compliance, and incentivise the public for buying green. This will create the economic and social pressures conducive to promoting sustainable business.

The second day of plenary discussions featured talks on how diffusing green technology would support business innovation and what are profitable business opportunities that sustainably utilise the rich and diverse natural capital in the region.

To view tweets of discussions and commentaries from the forum, visit #GreenBizAsia.

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Project Update: Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection

As we move into the final month of the year, it’s time to offer an update on our work with the Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) project. This emergency recovery work is being completed in response to the devastating September 2013 floods, which impacted counties across Colorado’s Front Range. The program provides financial and technical support to community-based project sponsors to reduce erosion and impacts from future flooding, protect streambanks, remove debris, and more.

Great Ecology is working with state and federal agencies, counties, design teams, watershed coordinators, and landowners in order to design revegetation plans for 46 EWP projects. We have completed initial revegetation plans for 23 sites, and installation has started on 2 of those sites, which included overseeing approximately 445 volunteers who participated in planting days as part of the revegetation efforts. In addition to the 46 revegetation plans, Great Ecology is on the Technical Assistance Team and providing design reviews for the remaining 29 EWP projects. Great Ecology is also providing oversight and developing protocols to the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery for collection and propagation of ecotypic native plants to be used for revegetating all 75 EWP projects.










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Great Ecology Welcomes Chris Loftus!

Great Ecology is pleased to welcome Chris Loftus, RLA (back) to Great Ecology! Chris has worked on projects throughout Colorado and the West, including several award-winning designs. His past project experience includes planning and design of parks, trails, and open space; neighborhood and community master planning; innovative stormwater design solutions; urban streetscape design; and ecological restoration. Chris will collaborate with Great Ecology’s ecologists, designers, and planners to provide regenerative ecological design solutions for a variety of project types and scales.

He serves as Vice President of Programs for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Colorado Chapter and on the Ecology + Restoration Professional Practice Network (ASLA) leadership team. He is a member of the Colorado Riparian Association, the Colorado Native Plant Society, and is a Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) Certified Landscape Architect.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from University or Oregon and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Colorado State University.

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Great Ecology to Attend the First Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific


The following information is from the ADB Calendar of Events.


This November, ADB will host its first Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific (GBF). The GBF brings together experts, business practitioners, and key stakeholders to share knowledge and identify avenues for promoting green business solutions in the region.

The GBF aims to provide a platform for knowledge sharing and lessons learning on the best policies/incentives, institutional arrangements, and financing modalities that can best support rapid green business development in the region.


ADB hosts its First Green Business Forum in recognition that green business is a key component and mover of green growth. It is a friendly gathering where green business practitioners and professionals can have an open dialogue and share their best ideas and experiences. Participating in the Green Business Forum enables you to become part of the increasing momentum towards green growth.


  • Showcase a number of best practice examples to illustrate early movers and successes in emerging green markets across the region;
  • Share and learn from the most effective policy frameworks and market based approaches promoting green business;
  • Help better understand why some countries are able to foster green business growth faster than others, and identify key factors for success;
  • Stimulate investments in emerging green business space;
  • Enable partnerships and collaborations for green business


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Great Ecology’s 3rd Quarter Conference Attendance

Great Ecology’s staff has been involved in, or attended, a variety of conferences in the third quarter of 2016. Were you at some of these conferences, too? Let us know on Facebook!

  • Senior Managing Ecologist, Randy Mandel, attended the High Altitude Vegetation Summer Field Tour in southwestern Colorado this July, with the Central Rockies chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).
  • Randy also co-facilitated an SER pub talk in Durango, CO titled “Collaborative Watershed-Length Riparian Restoration in Four Major Tributaries of the Colorado River.”
  • In early September, Director of Ecology, Nick Buhbe, Senior Landscape Architect, Michelle Landis, Associate Ecologist, Dr. Jill McGrady, and Jessa Spainhower, Director of Operations, attended the City of San Diego 2016 Design & Construction Networking EXPO.
  • Our Founder and CEO, Dr. Mark Laska, attended the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in September.
  • Randy Mandel presented “CWCB Bioengineering Guide and Searchable Revegetation Matrix” at the Colorado Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Conference in Crested Butte, CO.
  • Laska attended The Bonobo Project’s Communications Workshop: Raising the Profile of Bonobos in the US, at the San Diego Zoo.
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Landscape Architect’s Work Nominated for an Orchid Award

Great Ecology is pleased to announce that a project by Michelle Landis, one of our landscape architects, was nominated for an Orchid Award through Orchids & Onions, a project of the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

The Immaculate Conception Church is located in Old Town San Diego and is the site of the first Catholic Parish built in California. The renovated courtyard, which received the nomination, is available for public viewing 24-hours a day, and is accessible during daylight hours by the exterior gate, the Church, the rectory, and the parish hall. The courtyard includes a Shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe designed in conjunction with Mexican artist Irma Poeter. In addition, it includes several simple wall seats, a decorative paving pattern, natural materials, and a variety of succulents that frame the shrine rose garden. Site constraints including accessibility and water drainage issues were addressed in the redesign.

Although this site was not picked as one of the winners, we are incredibly proud of Michelle.


The Courtyard of the Immaculate Conception


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Great Ecology Affiliate Finalist in Cleantech Competition

Imagine a world where it is possible for urban areas to efficiently, and accurately, perform integrated environmental modeling—something which is necessary for developing and implementing green action plans based on the complex system of inputs and outputs specific to that area. The data could provide not only real-time information on environmental stressors such as pollution, but could also help ensure proper urban planning that accounts for use of trails, foot traffic, and as a result can estimate the likelihood of soil compaction or erosion along a popular riverbank beach.

That world is possible.

Former Great Ecology employee, Alejandro Baladrón, recently attended the Climate Launchpad cleantech business idea European Union finals competition, which is part of Climate-kic. There, Alejandro, and his business partner, Carlos Rivero, presented a five-minute pitch of their new technology, URBANMET.

“URBANMET is an urban environmental management solution for the holistic study of urban systems for public authorities committed to making cities more sustainable and resilient to climate change…integrated algorithms [will] connect multiple air, soil, water, and biology mathematic models to efficiently track energy and matter’s journey inside cities…”

According to the concept of urban metabolism, from which the product name is derived, cities are like “superorganisms,” the result of a complex systems of inputs, outputs, and flowpaths that move matter and energy through multiple environmental layers, including soils, the water cycle, the atmosphere and the vegetation. This software would help clients better understand a city’s urban metabolism. Since it is summarized by GIS maps, clients would be able to see spatiotemporal trends that influence environmental issues in their urban areas.

URBANMET´s holistic approach to the study of urban systems empowers public authorities to decide what green management options should be implemented in the city and where. This improvement in decision-making leads to higher reductions of CO2 emissions. Estimates indicate that URBANMET can reduce more than 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions in a city like New York annually, which is the equivalent of taking 54,000 cars off the road for a year.

Alejandro and Carlos were one of six teams (out of 88!) selected to pitch at the “Urban Transitions Theme Award.” The theme awards were a separate pitch-competition from the main Climate Launchpad program. There were five categories:

  • Urban Transitions;
  • Sustainable Production Systems;
  • Decision Metrics & Finance;
  • Sustainable Land Use; and
  • Carbon Negative.

Being selected to pitch at the “Urban Transitions Theme Award” meant URBANMET was considered one of the best solutions for developing integrated, scalable, and replicable systemic solutions that serve as catalysts, driving the transformation towards livable, zero-carbon, and resilient cities.

Ultimately, Alejandro and Carlos did not win the final prize at the Climate Launchpad event, but Alejandro said it was an amazing experience and that he and Carlos learned many useful tools for communicating ideas to potential investors. In addition, as national finalists Alejandro and Carlos were awarded SILVER-status for the Climate-KIC Accelerator Program.

Alejandro holds a Master’s in Applied Hydrology and is currently a Great Ecology affiliate. Carlos is an expert in greenhouse gas emissions.

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