We specialize in infrastructure and land productivity assessments, fiscally-based comprehensive planning, green infrastructure implementation, neighborhood revitalization, small scale infill and redevelopment and other projects that create places that are healthy, financially productive and pedestrian-friendly.
We are inspired by people and organizations who challenge the traditional ways of approaching infrastructure design and development. Moving away from "business as usual" requires education and collaboration. Join the conversation and learn more about making yours a "VERDUNITY Community"!
VERDUNITY, Inc. was founded in April 2011 by three individuals who share a common passion for local communities, have diverse technical backgrounds, and are committed to providing exceptional client service and communication. We are a woman-owned civil engineering, urban design and community consulting firm focused on providing infrastructure planning and design services that help create healthy, economically sustainable communities. Our vision and core philosophy are defined by the following concepts:
We Have a Passion for Municipal Clients and Communities Local communities are being asked to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources. Because of this, we feel our communities can benefit from technical assistance, resource support and partnership more than ever before. We left leadership positions in national firms behind to start VERDUNITY because we saw a tremendous opportunity to be what we’ve termed Community Consultants. We emphasize local community involvement and knowledge FIRST, and then connect team members together to deliver community-specific, high value solutions.
Finding Solutions to Community Needs Requires a New Approach Addressing community challenges while still dealing with the impacts of a struggling economy requires an approach that is much more incremental, collaborative and transparent in nature, with a focus on integrated solutions that cross geographic, business, organization, department and technical lines. Projects must be planned, funded, designed, operated and maintained with this in mind. In order to warrant investment, projects will need to be framed in multiple ways, and consulting teams must be prepared to not just involve stakeholders in planning and design, but embrace them. Rather than sit back and wait, we formed VERDUNITY to lead this transformation at the community level.
We Want to Help Clients Do the Right Projects, the Right Way The post-WW II development pattern has left communities with a significant amount of infrastructure requiring replacement, and not nearly enough revenue to pay for this maintenance and expansion of new facilities. Federal and state dollars for local infrastructure are decreasing, and communities are having to pick up the bill. In addition, the shrinking availability of, and increasing demand for water and other natural resources is changing the way we view our world at home, in our communities, and yes, even in business. Before taking on a project, we challenge our clients and stakeholders to make sure the project is really needed and identify ways to make the infrastructure affordable over the long-term. Once we know we’re spending resources on the right project, we assemble teams with the right mix of expertise, incorporate proven sustainable design principles and utilize the latest technology to design and deliver solutions that are environmentally and fiscally sustainable. Our firm believes that the Envision Rating System developed by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is an emerging framework and toolset for making these types of decisions and evaluating the full benefits of infrastructure projects, so we signed in 2011 to be a Charter Member and have two of the first certified Envision professionals in the country and in Texas.
We know that fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship mean something different for every project and community, and VERDUNITY is committed to helping you figure out what works best for your situation.
Communities that are financially and environmentally resilient are ones where development is done in a way that balances the built and natural environment, and ensures the city has sufficient productivity (revenue) to cover the costs required to maintain its infrastructure and provide basic services. Many cities pursue high quality of life and rapid growth in the short-term, without consideration of the long-term infrastructure maintenance costs associated with this approach. When growth slows, and the subdivisions and infrastructure put in by developers initially starts to fail and needs to be replaced, these same cities struggle to find the funds to repair everything, and the quality of the community gradually declines. Here in north Texas, where we do most of our work, communities are also facing droughts and other extreme weather events on a more regular basis, resulting in concerns about water supply and quality, as well as flooding and erosion. All of these add up to more costs - for maintenance, cleanup, permitting and yes, even more infrastructure needs. To be a truly prosperous and resilient community, a city must balance the productivity of its land with its infrastructure investments and liabilities.
Cities can get back on track by identifying areas where productivity can be increased through small, incremental investments over time. By making your downtown and other retail areas more pedestrian friendly, and improving non-motorized connectivity between these nodes, property values and sales tax revenues can be gradually increased, and infrastructure costs can be reduced. Additionally, by identifying watersheds where green infrastructure and low impact development best practices can be integrated from the top down to the outfall, a community can provide a more natural and aesthetically pleasing environment, while also improving water quality and reducing stormwater impacts downstream.
We have a simple process we encourage communities to follow:
1) Assess what you have in terms of existing infrastructure. Log what you have, where it is, how old it is, when it will need to be replaced, and how much it will cost to replace it.
2) Identify high productivity areas, low productivity areas, and those that have potential to become high productivity with some investment. High productivity areas are those places where a city can generate significantly more revenue than what the infrastructure serving that area costs to maintain and replace. Conversely, low productivity areas are those where even significant infrastructure investment will not have much impact on the value of the adjacent businesses and residences.
3) Map watersheds, creeks and other natural areas as well as public areas (parks, plazas, etc). Identify areas where green infrastructure AND bike/ped connections could be incorporated to add value and create quality outdoor spaces.
4) Identify STROADs - corridors where vehicles travel between 35-50 mph. These are street/road hybrids where speeds are too fast for pedestrians to feel safe sharing the space, and too slow to make significant difference in how fast cars move between destinations. STROADS are "no man's land" with respect to community productivity, create significant infrastructure liabilities that must be compensated by higher productivity in other areas of the community. Every community needs some of these corridors, but most cities have many more than they really need. By putting in extra lanes and higher speed limits, cities are missing out on opportunities to capture productivity, and taking on some pretty significant infrastructure maintenance liabilities in the process.
5) Overlay these together to identify the top 2 or 3 areas where investments will have the most impact on improving productivity and placemaking. Historic downtowns, traditional grid neighborhoods, and creek basins with adjacent or nearby community parks are "low-hanging fruit" to look for.
6) For each of these areas, identify small, demonstrative projects that can be tested out with minimal investment, such as painting a bike lane along an existing street, using cones to block off on-street parking through an area, or even temporarily closing off an entire street or area from vehicular traffic to make it a pedestrian-only zone. If the demonstration effort works and is well-received, then make a more significant investment to make things permanent, such as rebuilding a key corridor as a complete and green street, constructing a new pedestrian plaza in your downtown, or changes codes to encourage green infrastructure in new developments in lieu of traditional stormwater management approaches. New York City did this with Times Square and ended up converting what was previously a main vehicular corridor with constant traffic congestion to a pedestrian mall, and traffic in the adjacent areas actually improved! If you don't try something, you'll never know what the true possibilities are...
7) Continue to make incremental investments to steadily build and grow through the target areas. As revenue and community buy-in increases, identify additional areas and continue the process.