As an integral part of community health, it is necessary for communities to take these factors into consideration when planning expansions such as new buildings and the daily operations that keep everything running smoothly.
Grassroots initiatives, municipal oversight, and federal policy lead to multiple stakeholders charged with the supervision and responsibility to care for these resources. At the campus level, the Environmental Quality and Land Use Working Group is designed to bring these stakeholders together to facilitate collaboration and communication.
At the heart of EQLU initiatives is a concern for the social, environmental, and economic impacts of land, water, and air quality. The following are examples of how EQLU decisions and projects have multidimensional impacts.
Air quality has been addressed on a national level with the creation of the Clean Air Act. The Act provides standards for regulating stationary and mobile air emissions with the aim to better public health and increase awareness. Furthermore, communities have addressed air quality issues by making the population more aware of their emissions, promoting alternative transportation such as biking and carpooling, and monitoring the pollution emitted by businesses and corporations. Such initiatives can decrease instances of respiratory illness, save money, and encourage the population to engage with their natural environment. In the Bloomington community, steps were taken to further this aim by the creation of the B-Line Trail 2010. This free, unobstructed walkway runs 3.1 miles and links southern and northern communities. It aims to encourage community members to choose alternative means of transportation while promoting wellness activities such as biking, jogging, or walking. The trail also features free workout stations for participants.
Similar to air, water quality has been addressed on national level through the creation of the Clean Water Act. Aimed at regulating pollutant discharge into water systems, the EPA has established regulations that must be met in both the public and private sectors. Communities are addressing and meeting these regulations through storm water management systems, wetland restoration, and increasing awareness of how commonly used chemicals are not only detrimental to river and lake habitats but can be coming out of our tap as well. Through initiatives such as wetland restoration, new wildlife habitats are created, water quality improves, and in cases such of Louisiana the force of hurricanes can be diminished. In Bloomington, the creation of Miller-Showers Park has decreased storm water run off by putting in retention ponds, provided the community with a green space and .6 miles of trails to promote exercise, and gives people coming from out of town a favorable first impression when entering Bloomington.
The distribution and management of land resources is a primary concern for EQLU projects. Land quality initiatives are based on an understanding of the interconnectivity between public health and safety and the protection of a community's natural and built environment. Urban green spaces are especially good indicators of the interaction between social wellness and land quality. In Indianapolis, for example, a project undertaken by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful revealed an increase in crime, obesity, and low-income rates in areas with fewer trees. Additionally, the Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project is currently taking action to protect and restore areas of green space in the community and on the Indiana University campus. A team of students, faculty, and professional’s are working to remove invasive species and reintegrate native species at two 10- acre woodland plots. These sites serve as a model for the importance of urban green space and the services provided by woodland environments (including flood regulation, air quality regulation, aesthetic and spiritual connections, and biodiversity). Advocates for land quality regulation aim to inform administrators and policy makers about the long-term effects of decisions regarding the environment. Balanced policies - those that consider both present and future repercussions - ensure that decisions regarding land use and the built environment positively affect the community for generations.
With the temperature rising and weather conditions changing, there is a new focus on the importance of climate change. EQLU initiatives such as decreasing greenhouse gas emissions through land use choices and air quality regulations are integral in the fight against climate change. With this problem becoming more apparent every year, EQLU initiatives and practices will be even more imperative in climate change and other environmental decisions now and in the future.