Developing Resilient Transportation Systems with Emergency Traffic Management Plans

February 12, 2024
By Saeed Sobhi, Regional Design Manager, WSB

Emergencies will happen. Disasters will happen. Communities must have thorough plans in place to prepare for and respond to a multitude of potential emergencies, ensuring public safety and preservation of property.

As communities face more extreme weather and other climate change related events such as fire, flooding, and mudslides, exploring resiliency and sustainability of assets and advance planning in emergency response and evacuation are critical. Will a road or a bridge need to be expanded? Are current facilities like local schools capable of providing shelter during an emergency? If tragedy strikes and thousands of vehicles need to go through one road to evacuate, can that path handle the strain? Are communication tools and protocols in place to effectively and efficiently notify residents to give them instructions? Do response agencies have the proper tools and resources? Properly developing emergency response traffic management plans is critical to safety.

Recent investments from the federal government like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) have provided renewed opportunities for becoming more resilient to extreme weather events, but also to tackle sustainability goals. For example, the IIJA provided $110 billion for repairing and updating infrastructure. In the process of constructing an emergency response plan, roads and bridges and other key infrastructure that require updating can be noted allowing the city or county governments to apply for this newly accessible aid. The IIJA also provided an additional $50 billion with the explicit goal of making infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events. The combination of these types of investments both in repairs and weatherizing updates provides ample opportunity for communities to take initiative in formulating emergency response/traffic management plans and ensuring their infrastructure will hold up in the face of disaster.

Here are some ways that communities can think about building robust emergency response plans that are smart and sustainable.

Think About Roadways

Just as the average student grows up learning where to go during a fire drill, a community needs a clear picture of how to respond in case of an emergency. This is where an emergency response plan comes in.

Using Colorado as an example, communities faced severe natural fires, flooding, and mudslide events that required extensive response work and evacuations. Communities in mountainous regions are especially susceptible as a severe mudslide can cut off road access. The size of these recent events and the damage caused has led more communities to recognize the need for sustainability and resiliency measures both to defend themselves from climate related disasters, but also to attempt to prevent future events. Proper design, routine inspection and systematic maintenance of roads and bridges is a key component of preparedness.

Preparedness also requires detailing clear evacuation routes and easily accessible paths for emergency responders. Making note of not only the best currently available paths, but also what areas may be improved or expanded. If a specific bridge is developed to include additional lanes for traffic, would it become a higher priority evacuation route? Also, are there roads where counterflow can be implemented to expedite evacuation? Having a detailed perspective of the roadway system and its capabilities is tantamount in emergency planning.

Navigate Available Facilities and Capabilities

Environmental threats can come in a wide variety of forms like power outages during freezing temperatures, wildfires that encroach on communities, or heavy rains that flood residential areas. These environmental hazards, among others, are affecting people and communities all over the country. One matter that all of these have in common is what happens once people have evacuated? These abnormal weather events like the recent freezing temperatures and power outages in Texas reveal a greater need for facilities that can handle the strain of housing evacuees and are designed with the goal in mind of weathering the storm.

Emergency plans need to include the capabilities for people to reach shelter, but also the ability for facilities to handle becoming a shelter. Event centers or schools are evaluated on how many people they can accommodate as an impromptu evacuation shelter. Do the facilities have enough capacity and the necessary amenities like cooling or heating systems? Knowing a facility can provide space and heating when a nearby residential area faces power outages in subzero temperatures will be a life saver.

Collaborate to Build Success

The resiliency of emergency planning requires collaboration across local governments. The different stakeholders in the development of an emergency plan include local city government, city emergency responders like police and fire rescue, the state’s department of transportation, neighboring municipalities that share the primary roads and bridges used during evacuations, and counties for when the plans extend beyond the reach of one individual community.

Collaborative efforts come in the forms of understanding what equipment is available for communicating during emergencies or for emergency responders to properly respond. On many occasions the local department of transportation holds jurisdiction over specific roadways or can aid in developing plans for parking and access to highways. These evacuation zones can be made digital so communication is fluid through the various agencies and the residents affected can be notified as soon as possible.

How WSB Can Help

With more attention being placed on sustainability and eco-friendly construction projects, attention should be given to maintaining and improving resiliency for the growing number of extreme weather events brought on by climate change. From designing sustainable infrastructure to helping communities create in-depth emergency management plans, WSB is here to help.

Our team has rich experience covering a variety of specialties that can help communities prepare. Our team has meaningful experience developing and supporting implementation of incident management plans and emergency traffic management response plans, as well as facilitating collaboration and consensus building among stakeholders.

Saeed has 25 years of experience with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) where he worked on transportation planning, project design and delivery, transportation system management and operations, planning for operations, incident management, traffic engineering, and asset management and maintenance. He has special interest and focus on Transportation System Management and Operations (TSM&O), and application of technology in Transportation..

[email protected] | 720.512.2891

Partnership Rewarded by Federal Funding for Sustainable Solutions

January 15, 2024
By Amy Fredregill, Sr Director of Sustainability, WSB

Sustainability can be looked at as a three-legged stool, supported by environmental, economic, and social components. As the federal government provides resources for communities to drive sustainable solutions across the country, they are balancing those three pillars and building a more resilient future. The flow of federal dollars to community projects not only modernizes infrastructure and helps meet local needs, but it also can support priorities that address important issues like sustainability and climate change. The business case for sustainability could not have been stronger, by reducing cost and risk, meeting evolving needs of stakeholders, providing new services, staying competitive, growing workforce development opportunities and advancing public health and prosperity for all communities.

Looking to the future of infrastructure across the country, ensuring it is environmentally resilient, equitable and drives collaboration are three key priorities for federal policymakers. Partnerships are key to formulating solutions to some of society’s most complex challenges by advancing comprehensive, sustainable investments across systems such as water, energy, transportation, buildings and land use.

Passing Historic Federal Funding Packages

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) were signed into law in the past few years with the goal of delivering significant economic investment in infrastructure projects across the country by providing funding for sustainable solutions, while creating a more resilient and equitable future. These programs opened the door to help communities tackle systemic issues and include a diverse array of investments that will reshape our nation in the long-term. Here are just a few of the groundbreaking investments:

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

  • $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure including replacing lead pipes
  • $1 billion to reconnect communities that have been divided by past infrastructure projects which primarily affected people of color
  • $110 billion for roads and bridges
  • $39 billion for public transportation

Inflation Reduction Act

  • 40% of climate and energy spending benefitting disadvantaged communities
  • $3 billion in environmental justice grants for community-based organizations
  • $225 million for tribal climate resilience
  • $3.2 billion in grants to support projects that improve walkability, safety and affordable transportation.

Fostering Regional Collaboration

This infusion of federal funding for sustainable solutions nurtures greater collaboration and partnerships to strengthen the ability respond to challenges. Regional collaboration means those dollars have a bigger impact on sustainability and long-term change. These partnerships break down the walls across systems and sectors to prevent silos and open the door for strategic community investments.

Championing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Another way that the federal government is driving sustainability is through environmental justice, equity and inclusion. With increased funding for traditionally underserved communities comes a renewed focus by the federal government to provide investments for low-income and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities that have faced systemic challenges. For instance, 40% of funding from the IRA law is dedicated to environmental justice communities, ensuring community infrastructure investments are not only more sustainable, but more equitable as well.

Combating Climate Change & Building a Sustainable Future

Climate change is a significant threat to the American people, national security, the economy and communities are exploring how to adapt, invest and ensure projects will foster a sustainable future for the long-term. The building projects being funded by IRA and IIJA have created a new opportunity to strengthen our nation’s climate resiliency.

In particular, a few examples include green infrastructure that mimics nature, biological wastewater treatment that uses less chemicals, renewable energy, and electrification. These investments support the needs of local communities while also creating durable investments. These projects provide more tools in the toolbox for resiliency across different systems.

How WSB Can Help

With the recent influx of federal funding for sustainable solutions, the opportunity for cities to obtain meaningful investments in sustainable, resilient infrastructure projects is better than ever. But where do cities start and how can they build towards this future? WSB is here to help. Our experienced team can help communities develop a strategy and pursue success. From securing grant funding, cultivating meaningful partnerships, developing multi-year plans, crafting policy and designing clean technology, we are helping communities across the country navigate the best path forward for sustainable futures that meet the needs of residents, businesses and their broader communities’ long-term goals.

Amy has nearly 25 years of experience across many industries, particularly energy and agriculture, in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This experience has provided Amy with a broad background that enables her to meet community and business needs based on the business case for sustainability. By working across interesting systems to simultaneously advance environmental, economic and social goals, she is able to uncover creative solutions. Through her relationship-based approach, Amy meets the unique needs of communities and businesses by working with all areas of the firm to provide comprehensive solutions.

[email protected] | 612.965.1489


Q & A with Amy Fredregill | Earth Month 2023- Using Sustainability to Invest in our Planet

April 24, 2023

By Amy Fredregill, Sr. Director of Sustainability, WSB

In honor of Earth Month 2023, Amy Fredregill, Sr. Director of Sustainability, discusses the way we are advancing sustainable outcomes through our work. At WSB, we believe there can be a sustainability lens to every project. Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect on the impact we can make with our client projects and operations to create a more prosperous, resilient future.

What does a sustainable community look like, and how does our work support it?

Sustainability is like a three-legged stool, it balances economic, social and environmental issues. Overall, a sustainable approach meets the needs of the current generation as well as future generations— encompassing both short- and long-term goals. Sustainability is unique to each project, based on the business case and objectives of the effort, which is what makes this work so innovative.

Can you describe what sustainability in infrastructure development means and its importance?

Sustainability can be seen in infrastructure in electric and water utilities, roads, trails and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to name a few. We are increasingly being asked to look at our infrastructure developments in new ways and think creatively about tools and methods that generate even more comprehensive benefits– from economic development to public health. Often, we can find solutions that mimic the resiliency of nature such as alternatives to traditional stormwater treatments, municipal water reuse, filtration ponds, alternative pavement products and pollinator-friendly landscaping. In doing so, we are seeing more long-term benefits, lower lifecycle costs and more amenities across a broader range of stakeholders.

In what ways does WSB practice sustainability?

Our projects range from creating strategic five-year plans, 12-18-month workplans and day-to-day operations and policies. These efforts are driven by evolving customer and stakeholder demand for services ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to public health, emissions reductions and resiliency. For any kind of project, we can draw strength from a range of WSB divisions including construction, renewables, transportation planning, landscape architecture, public engagement and more— ensuring that we are carefully crafting the best option for each project.

In the last few years, we recently launched an internal employee-based Corporate Sustainability Team. Our goal is to advance operational efficiencies, make proactive plans, be good community partners, and support a broader swath of societal goals through procurement and emissions reductions. One result of our efforts was the development of a solar array on our Burnsville office building, garnering interest from community partners as renewable energy costs continue to decline. Additionally, our St. Paul office recently received a grant for organic composting so we can learn about commercial opportunities to reduce waste and reuse materials. Learnings from our operational efforts can be shared with our communities and business partners.

Are there any projects that you find difficult to apply sustainability? How does WSB overcome those issues?

We are often asked in our client projects to manage risk, measure impacts and benefits of projects creatively by using expanded methods to build on traditional ROI concepts think long-term about lifecycle costs and benefits to society and business, such as workforce development. Commercial and government leaders are sharing ideas in this emerging impact measurement space, with results that can turn former waste streams into revenue and reduce risk across the supply chain, improve public health outcomes and help communities thrive. 

What excites you about the possibilities of sustainability in the future?

Sustainability is an exciting field because it is continuously evolving. We enjoy exploring what approaches will best meet the needs of projects and clients — it is not one-size-fits-all. Additionally, there is an increasing amount of state and federal funding available for projects. Positive health and social benefits are goals of many funding programs, and by partnering with our clients to take advantage of funding opportunities, these approaches are more accessible. WSB stays apprised of this ever-changing horizon of program opportunities by sorting through eligibility of funding and putting together winning projects in our communities and business partners.

Amy has nearly 25 years of experience across many industries, particularly energy and agriculture, in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This experience has provided Amy with a broad background that enables her to meet community and business needs based on the business case for sustainability. By working across intersecting systems to simultaneously advance environmental, economic and social goals, she is able to uncover creative solutions.

[email protected] | 612.965.1489

Electric vehicles

Electric Vehicles Infrastructure: Four Tips to Set Communities Up for Success

November 15, 2022
By Amy Fredregill, SR Director of Sustainability, WSB

Electric vehicles (EV) are here, and consumer demand is growing. That means more communities are exploring how to integrate EV chargers into their city planning. The bipartisan federal infrastructure law passed last year, which created programs like the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, opened the door for even more funding opportunities and grants for cities to install fast charging stations. 

The problem, however, is that many cities don’t have an EV policy or goals in place. If communities don’t begin preliminary planning and outline larger policy goals, going after funding opportunities can leave cities scrambling and unprepared.

Here are a few tips and ideas that can help cities prepare for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and advance a plan that best fits the needs of residents and businesses, providing for positive future growth. 

  • Start the conversation and ensure policies are up to date. Initiating conversations with city administrators and/or city council members is an important first step, especially if electric vehicles have not been on the radar of community leaders to date. Determine what actions need to be taken including updating zoning codes. Do your codes allow for charging infrastructure or do guidelines need to be updated? Should the city encourage or require charging infrastructure with new construction? Is certain signage required where chargers are placed? Guidelines must be in place so that the community can meet its EV goals and promote orderly development. 
  • Determine your city’s plan and budget. Different communities have different goals for EVs, and it’s important to adopt goals that reflect the needs of residents, businesses, visitors, and the community. Does it make sense to take on an ownership model where the community owns the EV charging stations and related infrastructure, including maintenance and upkeep? Will it make more sense to work with a third-party vendor to own and operate the equipment on city property? Is your city installing chargers for city owned EVs? Should the ownership model be the same as publicly available chargers or different for fleet vehicles? By clearly defining and establishing structured goals and budgets, cities can determine what works best for their city, staff capacity, and budgets. 
  • Work with your utilities and look at your infrastructure power capabilities. As more EV chargers are built and utilized, cities must also look if they have the infrastructure and power capacity to support it. Utilities will sometimes help cover the cost of upgrading power systems or help find ways to balance capacity by setting higher fees at peak demand times. By working to communicate costs and decisions with utility companies, cities can avoid undue stress and complications. It is important to consider upfront costs, monthly or annual fees, and possible profit both in the short and long term based on the ownership model you determined in #2. Additionally, working with your building maintenance and electrical teams can help you understand your building’s electrical capacity.  
  • Consider why these upgrades are important. Growing consumer demand and more funding for EV infrastructure are just two of the reasons why cities should have an EV plan in place. Some communities are using their fast-charging infrastructure to attract business and residents, advertising itself as an EV ready city. Still other communities find opportunities to partner with companies to place charging stations in popular areas to boost visits to local restaurants and businesses. EV infrastructure can also help communities reach their sustainability goals as transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

There is no one-size-fits-all EV plan for cities, and WSB is ready to assist with determining a strategy and workplan, policy writing, grant applications, reviewing zoning guidelines, and whatever else communities need to advance an electric vehicles infrastructure plan that’s right for your community.

Bridget serves as the Sustainability Program Manager at WSB, helping propel sustainability projects and opportunities forward for our clients to reduce costs while meeting their community and stakeholder needs. She has led the Sustainability Growth Coalition at Environmental Initiative and served as chair of the St. Louis Park, MN Environment and Sustainability Commission, moving forward progress on climate and energy, while engaging community members and business leaders.

[email protected] | 920.202.0234

Photo of Trees and Tree Canopy

Define, Preserve, and Increase Tree Canopy Cover to Support Sustainability Goals

By Emily Ball, Forestry Program Manager, WSB

Green infrastructure is a term that has gained momentum recently. It refers to the framework and benefits humans can harness by building, preserving, or maintaining a resilient natural system. Green infrastructure solves some of our most pressing drainage, heat, air, and water quality problems, particularly in areas with the most population. Trees are one of the most vital and effective green infrastructure components that contribute to many cities’ sustainability goals. From stormwater interception and soil conservation to carbon storage and sequestration to improving air quality and reducing heat island effects; tree canopy cover provides many benefits.

Sustainability Goal: Preserve or Increase Canopy Cover

Tree Canopy

Increasing tree canopy cover over time can have a large impact on a community’s sustainability efforts. To meet that goal, the first step is to understand the current canopy cover and perform a “look back” to examine past trends. To gain an understanding, the USDA Forest Service has a free i-Tree Canopy application that quantifies canopy cover across the community.  In the 7-county area of the Twin Cities, communities can use the Metropolitan Council’s “Growing Shade” mapping tool to observe canopy cover and develop goals based on local issues and priorities.  Another step is to quantify the number of ash trees in the community through a tree inventory. All ash trees are at a risk of death which will negatively impact canopy cover if not preserved.

Mature shade trees have a bigger canopy so they can capture and store more carbon than their newly planted counterparts. They also provide the most ecosystem benefits – all compelling reasons to preserve what is already established, while also adding new trees. If an inventory has not yet been performed, the community must determine if a statistical sample will be adequate or if a full tree inventory should be performed. Issues related to data collection variables, potential stratification of the city, long-term management and storage of the data must be considered.  

This quantification work requires expertise, months of implementation, and often exceeds staff time or budgets designated to accomplish the work. While many communities have planners or sustainability staff, they may lack the expertise that a city forester or an ISA-certified arborist has. Even in a community with a thriving forestry program, managing routine work may be at capacity and carrying out projects like a canopy analysis may not fit into the work plan.

How WSB Can Help

Whether it is achieving a Green Step Cities best practice, part of a larger sustainability or climate action plan, WSB staff are prepared to help you define, preserve, and increase your canopy cover with Forestry, Natural Resource and Sustainability experts. We help our clients assess existing canopy, explore trends, provide an inventory to assess species diversity and resiliency, define the ecosystem benefits that public trees are already providing, and examine tangible steps to preserve existing canopies. With the community’s goals in mind and data, we provide a clear strategy to maximize canopy cover over time.

Emily brings 20 years of experience, primarily in community forestry. She has extensive experience in contract administration, management of staff, AmeriCorps members and contractors, budget and grant management, plan review, tree health and condition inspections, outreach and education. She works closely with partner organizations, staff, and the community to educate, manage natural resources and provide excellent customer service. | 651.318.9945

Geothermal Feasibility

Renewable Energy Match: Combining Clean Energy Exploration & Detailed Economic Analysis in a One-of-a-Kind Tool

With more and more businesses setting comprehensive sustainability goals that include net-zero carbon emissions, many are unsure what is the best way to achieve those goals or what renewable energy investment will be most effective. Sustainability investment should be data driven and can be done in a way that both protects the environment and a business’ bottom line. 

WSB and iD8 have partnered to create a new one-of-a-kind analysis – Renewable Energy Match – that provides clients with a full understanding of renewable energy options, and comprehensive data analysis to drive financial-based decision-making. It goes beyond traditional energy evaluation by combining economic data with place-based environmental information.

Explore clean energy options that meet your needs.

Many companies exploring clean energy solutions often first look to solar and wind energy. Those are excellent renewable energy sources, but there is also untapped potential in sources like hydrogen, geothermal energy, and renewable natural gas. 

Every organization has different needs when it comes to renewable energy, so a plan that is customized to individual needs, takes into account location, and is driven by thorough research and data is critical. 

How Renewable Energy Match works.

Most companies base their renewable energy decisions off financial feasibility. WSB has taken that concept further and developed a 4-phase approach to determine which renewable energy option is best for each specific client. The process includes:

  1. First-order feasibility study This first step provides a high-level geospatial analysis of the area the client is operating within to determine what resources are available for renewable energy production. It includes iD8 financial assessments for each energy form and an overall optimization for each energy.  A risk assessment of external factors that could influence the performance of energy sources is also part of this phase. 
  2. Strategic Planning This stage provides a deeper exploration of local energy resources that are available, as well as their acquisition costs, parcel ownership, local energy grids, climate analysis, and more. 
  3. Final Design & Regulatory Planning Once the strategic plan is complete, infrastructure planning and design, environmental and resource assessments, and land permitting can begin.
  4. Energy implementation The final phase is to begin energy production and implementation at the selected facility. 

Who can benefit from Renewable Energy Match?

There are many types of businesses and organizations that can benefit from Renewable Energy Match including companies with net-zero goals, businesses with multiple facilities or campuses, universities, utilities, and companies looked to expand their energy renewable energy portfolios..

This one-of-a-kind analysis allows clients to strategically explore the costs, sources, and options around renewable energy on a digital platform, and advance investments that will best meet the needs of a client from both an economic and sustainability perspective. 

Want to learn more about Renewable Energy Match? Check out our website to explore more, contact a WSB expert, or schedule a demo.

Electric Vehicles

Understand How the Infrastructure Bill Supports Expanding Electric Vehicle Fleets and Charging Infrastructure

By Bridget Rathsack, Program Manager and Eric Zweber, Sr Project Manager, WSB

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is opening opportunities for states, local government, school districts, and tribal communities across the U.S. to expand electric vehicle (EV) fleets and related infrastructure. Included in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan funding package is more than $7.5 billion to help accelerate the adoption of EVs and associated charging infrastructure. As part of this funding, states are each receiving tens of millions in funding through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program. There is also funding earmarked for charging and refueling infrastructure grants, which go through the U. S. Department of Transportation to state and local governments, as well as metropolitan planning organizations to help fund alternative fuel corridors. Furthermore, some funding is earmarked specifically for competitive grants that will support innovative approaches that expand charging infrastructure in rural and low-income communities and corridors. 

So, what exactly does the Infrastructure Law mean for EV infrastructure, and how can communities take advantage of this historic funding investment? Here are a few thoughts.

Make a Plan

Many communities are unsure what model will work best for their needs. There is not a one-size-fits-all model, and leaders should ask questions like these below to make a plan that works best to meet their unique needs:

  • Does it make sense to take on an ownership model where the community owns the EV charging stations and related infrastructure while assuming responsibility for the long-term operations and maintenance?
  • Will it make sense to own and then lease EV infrastructure, recovering fees through a third-party vendor?
  • Should our city plan to let a third-party install and manage EV infrastructure completely? How can we meet the needs of all of our residents, including those that don’t live near highways or shopping hubs, or those living in multi-family complexes, etc.?
  • How can transportation electrification help advance economic development and meet climate goals?

Having a strategy is critical if communities want to be ready to tap into grant and funding opportunities for charging infrastructure when they become available later this year. Looking to, and updating, a community’s comprehensive plan can help to navigate and plan for the future of EV’s. It will also position a community to successfully submit a competitive grant application to fund their plan.

Vehicle Purchasing and Fleets

Just as the Infrastructure Bill is expanding access to EV charging infrastructure, it also will help fund EV purchases for communities and school districts. Specifically, there is $5 billion in funding for school districts that want to upgrade their school buses to clean or zero-emission models.

But whether looking to update city vehicles, public buses, or school buses, it’s important for leaders to understand how EVs can benefit them and build a plan that meets their needs. Questions to ask when thinking about updating to electric fleets include:

  • Are the vehicles in need of upgrades? Are they in an urban or rural community? How far does a vehicle travel on average per day?
  • Is our community in a hot or cold weather climate which may mean fewer efficiencies in extreme weather? How can we begin with a pilot project so that we can learn how the vehicles meet our needs and build capacity for EVs in our organization?
  • What kind of grant should we pursue – charging infrastructure and/or fleet updates? What is our plan to phase out the work as these grants are released? Do we have internal staff to do this or do we need additional help?

There are many ways to update EV fleets and charging infrastructure that will significantly benefit communities and the environment but ensuring the investment fits with the needs of the school district or community is important.

How WSB Can Help

The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act is a massive funding package that provides meaningful opportunities to accelerate EV fleet and infrastructure adoption, reduce emissions, and meet the needs of communities. Here are some of the ways WSB can help leaders navigate and tap into accelerating EV fleet and infrastructure adoption:

  1. Updating comprehensive plans to plan for EV infrastructure adoption.
  2. Strategizing and helping create an ownership model for a community’s EV charging infrastructure.
  3. Engineering and public works services to help design and plan for EV charging stations.
  4. Navigating regulations and zoning requirements.
  5. Helping prepare for, and assisting with, grant applications for EV-related projects.
  6. Nesting your EV work in your broader sustainability, resiliency, and climate goals.
  7. Designing spaces for EV charging infrastructure that meet accessibility requirements and work with landscape architecture, signage, etc.

If your community does not have the staff capacity or resources to manage EV infrastructure internally, WSB is available to discuss options and strategies. Residents, consumers, and businesses are demanding more sustainable transportation options including electric vehicles. Now is the time for communities to explore options, target historic funding investments, and advance their vision for the future.

Bridget serves as the Sustainability Program Manager at WSB, helping propel sustainability projects and opportunities forward for our clients to reduce costs while meeting their community and stakeholder needs. She has led the Sustainability Growth Coalition at Environmental Initiative and served as chair of the St. Louis Park, MN Environment and Sustainability Commission, moving forward progress on climate and energy, while engaging community members and business leaders.

[email protected] | 920.202.0234

Eric has over 20 years experience with community planning, renewable energy, and sustainability projects. He has worked cooperatively with a number renewable energies developers to develop both solar and wind resources and is a past board member of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industrial Association (MnSEIA). He has a passion for sustainable and resilient practices to address the needs of communities and larger public.

[email protected] | 612.581.0504

Solar-Renewable Energy

Is Your Community Ready for Solar Energy

By Eric Zweber, Sr Project Manager and Amy Fredregill, Sr Director of Sustainability, WSB

Solar energy systems, such as solar panel arrays, are becoming increasingly less expensive to install and are generating more energy than before. The lower initial investment is resulting in a shorter time required for the savings on your city’s electricity bill to cover the initial cost of installation. In the long run, solar energy systems save money, generate jobs, and provide clean energy to your citizens. The low maintenance costs, economic stimulation and many other benefits make solar energy a strong option.

Here are four things to consider when exploring solar energy options for your city:

  • How do your citizens, businesses and other stakeholders feel about climate and renewable energy? How do you expect that to change in the future?              
    • Renewable energy options may be one way to advance your community’s climate and sustainability goals and interests, while meeting the needs of a range of stakeholders.
  • Does your electricity provider have a green tariff, green power program, or net energy monitoring program?
    • These programs partner with cities and businesses to provide the best value for renewable energy. Exploring which options your electricity provider may have can save on cost, and ensure you are maximizing your resources.
  • Is increasing awareness and education a goal of your energy program?
    • If so, onsite solar generation can have an even stronger business case due to the local visibility it provides.
  • How will investment tax credits (ITCs) and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) be capitalized within your project investment?      
    • Municipalities can have difficulties recovering incentives such as ITCs and SRECs. Exploring potential partnerships prior to installation can create funding opportunities to shorten your payback period.

Every solar energy solution looks different. For community leaders facing challenges and planning for the future, it can be difficult to know when and where to start. When we partner with clients, we help them explore what opportunities their community can tap into for solar energy considerations.

Eric has over 20 years experience with community planning, renewable energy, and sustainability projects. He has worked cooperatively with a number renewable energies developers to develop both solar and wind resources and is a past board member of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industrial Association (MnSEIA). He has a passion for sustainable and resilient practices to address the needs of communities and larger public.

[email protected] | 612.581.0504

Amy has over 20 years of experience across many industries, particularly energy and agriculture, in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This experience has provided Amy with a broad background that enables her to meet community and business needs based on the business case for sustainability. By working across intersecting systems to simultaneously advance environmental, economic and social goals, she is able to uncover creative solutions.

[email protected] | 612.965.1489

Solar-Renewable Energy

Supporting a Cleaner World Through Resiliency


By Amy Fredregill, Sr. Director of Sustainability and Brigid Lynch, Geomorphologist/Climatologist Hazard Specialist, WSB

With the release of the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the need for businesses, governments, and civilians to accelerate their efforts to build greener economies and avoid a global climate crisis is clear. Businesses and all levels of government are seeing increased climate risk along with demand from customers and community members to find innovative solutions that reduce emissions in energy, transport, and other industries.

The primary strategy to prepare for the future includes increasing energy and water efficiency and creating renewable energy plans while simultaneously managing the impacts that have already reached us, like an increase in extreme weather events.

Renewables and the economy.

Companies and consumers are becoming more selective of who they choose to work with and purchase from, focusing on carbon footprints and those committed to renewable goals, driving growth, and encouraging companies to be innovative. The future of renewables is booming and will ultimately reduce cost and risk, meeting the wants and needs of the consumer. Local governments are also strategically transitioning their operations to be more climate friendly, including securing renewable energy.

Developing predictive tools.

In response to extreme weather events and changing demands, WSB is developing a GIS-based tool to help businesses and government entities strategically transition their operations to renewable energy sources. The tool adapts to client needs and allows them to select which renewable sources should be included in their renewable plans. The tool is predictive, incorporating climate change projections that will affect energy production and operations in the future, and integrates cost and benefits of different sources of renewable energy technologies.

The new tool produces energy production calculations, climate risk assessments and suitability rankings. This data helps companies identify where the risks lie, so they can achieve their future goals, make informed decisions, and come up with solutions to achieve those goals.

The future of renewable energy.

According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy currently makes up 26% of the world’s electricity, but that share is expected to grow to nearly 30% by 2024. As the demand for renewable energy sources and strategies grows, we have the unique opportunity to support a greener world, reduce cost and risk and meet customer demands.

Amy Fredregill
Sr Director of Sustainability
[email protected]

Brigid Lynch
Geomorphologist/Climatologist Hazard Specialist
[email protected]

Building Resiliency into Public Works

By Amy Fredregill, Sr Director of Sustainability, WSB

Reliable resources are necessary for every municipality, and consequently, sustainability in public works programs has grown into a long-term goal for municipalities. Prioritizing sustainability and resiliency in a municipality’s infrastructure ensures that programs are reliable, so that when a user turns on their faucet or light switch, water or electricity is delivered.

Resiliency is an important part of sustainability planning. Resiliency is achieved by having a maximum number of options to be able to pivot and adapt to a disruption in an infrastructure system. For example, a main road in a user’s neighborhood could be under construction, or a resident may not have a vehicle. If the municipality has walkways or bikeways through the neighborhood, the user has the option to walk or bike to their job, store, or pharmacy. The ever-expanding choices can lead to healthier communities, encourage tourism, commerce and more.

Cultivating resiliency is not as complicated as it may sound; creating a walkway or bikeway trail system in a neighborhood is only one example. A municipality can invest in water reuse, renewable energy, energy efficiency, stormwater and flood management systems, too. The programs can be built into a large sustainability plan. Moreover, due to evolving technology, increased adoption rates and system investments, energy choices such as renewable energy and conservation can reduce costs and risks. Communities can take advantage of tax credits for renewables, rebates for conservation, and hedge financial risk through emissions reductions.

The systems we rely on – power and gas grids, water and wastewater systems – are complex and critical to daily life. With the significant progress in energy choices at our disposal, cities can offer more services to residents such as electric vehicle charging, helping them to reduce their monthly bills through energy audits and weatherization, increasing outreach and awareness on clean energy programs, and more.

Winter storms underscore the value of having a range of options at our disposal. By having a diverse menu of power generation options and increasingly energy-efficient operations, communities can be more resilient and adapt to changing circumstances. These are things that cities and communities are thinking about for their own sustainability plans. Prioritizing sustainability and resiliency in municipal systems can help prevent, adapt to and mitigate disruptions in the future.

Amy has nearly 25 years of experience across many industries, particularly energy and agriculture, in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This experience has provided Amy with a broad background that enables her to meet community and business needs based on the business case for sustainability. By working across intersecting systems to simultaneously advance environmental, economic and social goals, she is able to uncover creative solutions.

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