At a typical seminar, you sit in a classroom, taking notes and trying not to doze off. Luckily, an upcoming green infrastructure class in Fairfax is anything but typical. Students will get out of the classroom to get their hands dirty and learn what it takes to manage eco-friendly stormwater systems.

Green infrastructure means managing stormwater runoff with plants and soils, rather than traditional “gray” infrastructure like metal pipes. In April, we wrote about the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP). Now, Fairfax County – a NGICP Partner Organization – is offering green infrastructure certification training for free.

GKY staff will help design the course materials and lead some of these important classes. Participants will learn about the construction, inspection and maintenance of green infrastructure projects.

GKY President Stuart Stein helped teach this course when it first came to the region. He knows how valuable this information will be, as more and more states push for green infrastructure. These systems can help solve water quality and quantity issues.

“This course is a little different than most of the classes we teach,” he said. “We tend to teach courses for engineers who need assistance with designing structure or folks who are concerned with regulatory compliance, but this really has to do with people who work in the field.”

In other words, this hands-on training is for people who spend time getting their hands dirty. This course is designed for workers that handle the day-to-day maintenance of infrastructure.

Stu likes how some of the course takes place outside, where people can share their real world experience. “Formal training is great, but when you go outside and look at some of the infrastructure and you discuss advantages and disadvantages, people can share their experiences with what has and has not worked for them,” he said.

Not only will the course help participants grow professionally, it will also help green infrastructure grow. Participants will learn how to keep these natural systems running smoothly, so they perform well for years to come.

Maintaining green infrastructure isn’t always easy, according to Stu. “With green infrastructure, you have to worry about the health of plants, which takes constant monitoring and maintenance,” he said. You also have to prevent invasive plants or animals from interfering with functionality.

Stu thinks this course is valuable because green infrastructure is still such a new idea. Many people do not have experience working on these types of projects. According to Stu, this course will help people “get up the learning curve faster.”

“We all learn as much from our mistakes as we do our successes,” Stu said. “Here you’re learning about [green infrastructure] in a classroom and you’re seeing it in the field, rather than experiencing it for the first time while you’re actually constructing a project.”

Though the course is free, seating is limited. The training goes from January 22 – January 26, 2018. At the end of the program, participants can take the official NGCIP certification exam. This certification is nationally recognized and will open many doors for green infrastructure jobs. Participants may also earn CEU credit, if they are certified stormwater inspectors through Virginia DEQ.

For more information about this training, please contact Heather Ambrose, Project Manager at the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at (703) 877-2800 or heather.ambrose@fairfaxcounty.gov. Additional information on this course is also available on the County’s website: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/stormwater/maintenance/ngicp.htm.  The classroom portion of the training will be held at the Chantilly Regional Library at 4000 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly, VA 20151.

 


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