RE.INVEST INITIATIVE

ABOUT

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IN JANUARY 2013, RE:FOCUS PARTNERS WAS AWARDED A $3 MILLION GRANT FROM THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION TO LAUNCH THE RE.INVEST INITIATIVE.

This innovative national program was created by the re:focus team to address the key gaps in federal and state policies to encourage infrastructure investment and to reshape the predevelopment process for resilient infrastructure. re:focus brought together a set of leading private sector partners, including the Bechtel Corporation (engineering); Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP (legal); and Wall Street Without Walls (finance), with eight US partner cities, selected through a national competition to develop new design and finance strategies that can be replicated in cities around the world.

RE.invest’s team of technical and finance experts worked collaboratively over the course of two years (concluding in March 2015) to develop strategies for aggregating high-priority projects across sectors—including water, communications, energy, and transportation—and leverage large-scale, long-term private investment. The results of this work include both new on-the-ground projects and new models for collaboration between local governments, investors, private sector companies, and communities.

PARTNER CITIES

RE.INVEST PARTNER CITIES ARE LEADING THE TRANSITION TO BUILDING STRONGER, MORE RESILIENT COMMUNITIES.

These eight partner cities were selected to participate in the RE.invest Initiative following a competitive national application process. Each of the eight RE.invest Partner Cities worked with the RE.invest engineering, legal and financial team to identify and develop cross-sector priority infrastructure projects that can be bundled into large-scale portfolios through new public-private partnerships. All eight cities demonstrated a strong commitment to engaging in innovative partnerships and placed a priority on resilient infrastructure. The RE.invest team built on the successes in each partner city to date to develop new strategies for financing and delivering city-wide progress on resilient infrastructure.

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EL PASO, TX

HOBOKEN, NJ

HONOLULU, HI

MIAMI BEACH, FL

MILWAUKEE, WI

NEW ORLEANS, LA

NORFOLK, VA

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

THE RE.INVEST TEAM

All RE.invest partner organizations share a strong commitment to continuously improving resilient and sustainable infrastructure delivery for cities across the country and around the world.

“Smart planning, innovation and an integrated approach are key to developing the sustainable infrastructure necessary to enhance the social and economic fabric of America’s great cities. We are looking forward to using our technical know-how, our history of applying creative thinking to infrastructure planning, and our ability to help make projects become a reality. We are delighted to be part of this initiative that will identify innovative solutions and more efficient delivery options for the challenges of tomorrow.”

Walker Kimball
Managing Director Infrastructure, Bechtel

“The rehabilitation and upkeep of our nation’s urban storm and waste water systems is of great importance, and we are thrilled to be a a part of the RE.invest Initiative to help these cities attract this much-needed investment. Successful public-private partnerships demand knowledge of the political landscape, an awareness of regulatory requirements, public sector support and an ability to identify revenue streams and innovative approaches to project delivery.  Akin Gump is excited to be able to bring our experience to the table on this crucial project.”

Susan Lent
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

SOLUTIONS

The RE.invest team developed these original ideas in order to creatively address multiple resilience challenges simultaneously. What makes these ideas innovative is their pragmatic combination of elements from across sectors. Each concept is cutting-edge but practical, developed with near-term financing and implementation in mind and specifically connected to the challenges faced by one or more RE.invest partner city. Together these concepts represent a set of building blocks of established technologies that can be mixed-and-matched in new combinations to meet individual city needs and generate greater benefits than each alone.

By bringing together project ideas from multiple sectors, each of these design solutions opens up the potential to capture multiple revenue streams and access different financing sources. These concepts are intended to move cities beyond urgent short-term fixes to enduring systems solutions. By integrating “finance-thinking” into project design, these solutions are aimed at helping cities ensure that their resilient infrastructure plans are aligned with a clear pathway to action.

re:park is a vision for a new type of urban “innovation park” designed to integrate public green and open spaces with stormwater management, underground parking (where appropriate), and environmental technology demonstration spaces. Because underground parking garages and basements are some of the first spaces to flood during severe rain events, this concept takes a simple approach to proactively combine green and traditional surface and subsurface stormwater retention and flood management systems with underground parking to integrate their design for cost savings and connect two separate revenue streams, water rates and parking fees. Installation of underground water management systems could also help city agencies and building owners reduce the energy costs of pumping out water in areas with high groundwater tables or significant chronic flooding. Further combining parking and stormwater detention with green and open spaces, offers additional revenue generation potential from corporate investment outdoor museum-style above ground demonstration spaces to showcase resilient infrastructure technologies.
re:cycle is a concept to help cities sustainably manage freshwater withdrawals and expand the use of recycled water. Many large-water customers, such as developers and golf course operators, currently pay a premium to use freshwater for irrigation. A switch to recycled water would result in significant cost savings. This concept offers an entry point for exploring scalable onsite recycled water treatment for nonpotable reuse with integrated micro-hydro or solar energy that could be financed by electric utilities with renewable energy mandates and paid for through utility fees or water and energy savings in an Energy Services Company (ESCO) style model.
re:energize is a proposal to help cities expand renewable energy production and innovative distributed power generation systems through a stable supply source for critical city functions to improve overall resilience. For example, energy costs make up the highest percentage of the costs of desalination in highly water constrained cities. Renewable energy sources with stable “fuel” supplies and low operating costs, like concentrated solar power arrays or waste-to-energy systems, can significantly reduce the operating costs of desalination plants. They also can provide a back-up power supply to improve system resilience for essential institutions, like schools, hospitals, or cooling centers, in severe weather events.

re:pave is design concept for coordinating and sequencing road repaving and other capital improvements with cost-saving strategies for expanding street-level green infrastructure. The RE.invest team focused on creating opportunities for integrating surface green infrastructure strategies, such as porous pavement, site grading, tree trenches, with other streets and parking upgrades. For example, designing surface parking areas to retain stormwater overflow can create multiple benefits at lower construction cost, while also tapping into street parking revenues as a source for repaying private investors who provide upfront investment capital.

re:wire is a pathway for engaging IT and telecom companies as partners in street and water system upgrades. By identifying IT upgrade priorities (e.g. wireless, broadband, fiber-optic, camera, and monitoring systems), cities can plan capital improvements that create additional revenue generation opportunities. For example, building on the push for new “dig once” policies to proactively to lay conduit while repaving roads or upgrading sewers can allow cities and companies to coordinate on accessing and expanding high-priority space below city streets at lower cost and with fewer disruptions from uncoordinated construction projects. The re:wire concept has the added benefit of limiting wear-and-tear of porous streets in ways that can lower their effectiveness.

re:inforce is a vision for transforming the way that coastal cities manage and upgrade their coastal protection systems. Currently, many seawalls are the responsibility of private property owners. When any property-owner fails to maintain their wall, their neighbors in the community are all more vulnerable to the next storm or flood. Repairing these seawalls is more cost effective when large-sections of the walls are built all at once to avoid creating unnecessary seams. The re:inforce concept focuses on comprehensive strategies and incentives for property owners to participate collectively in expanding coastal protection systems—€”including seawalls and natural infrastructure—€”and payback costs over time through property value increases and savings on insurance bills.

OUTCOMES

“Using modern, sustainable infrastructure options, such as replacing concrete with porous pavement, restoring creeks and wetlands, and increasing tree cover can help cities absorb rain water rather than funnel it to sewer systems, make communities more attractive to businesses and investors, and help them better withstand extreme weather – often at a much lower cost than building bigger or newer concrete storm water systems. The RE.invest Initiative provides local governments an innovative model for working with the private sector to expand sustainable infrastructure options and keep their balance sheets in the black.”

— Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (2013)

Hoboken Northwest Resiliency Park →
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MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS

“As natural disasters continue to impact cities across America, smart investments in sustainable urban infrastructure have become increasingly important. The RE.invest Initiative is aligning public resources and private financing to ensure that our cities are building infrastructure that is stronger, more resilient and more cost effective than before. These investments will benefit urban communities throughout the country, including low-income neighborhoods that are too often disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation. As we work to develop and implement innovative solutions to the infrastructure challenges we face today, EPA congratulates the RE.invest Initiative in their promising announcement of cities and corporate partners.”

— Bob Perciasepe, Acting EPA Administrator (2013)

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