Urban EcoBlock partnered with St. Louis community developer Rise on a grant application after submitting an initial application in April. The 2019 JMK Innovation Prize is seeking out “innovators who are spearheading transformative early-stage projects in the fields of environment, heritage conservation and social justice.”

The Urban EcoBlock is well-positioned to qualify for all three funding categories. The EcoBlock seeks to promote environmental sustainability by completely re-envisioning urban infrastructure in an ecological manner, transforming aging and failing systems. Net-zero energy and net-zero water infrastructure will leverage a variety of technologies at the block level to create local resiliency and economies of scale. The mixed-income developments will mandate 20% low-income/affordable housing to maintain social diversity, and leverage Community Land Trusts to maintain affordability. Each block can tailor specific social services in the mixed-use development to promote social well-being. Finally, heritage conservation is maintained by integrating historic structures with congruent but highly efficient new developments that complement the existing buildings, which will also be renovated to be on par with the efficiency of new buildings.

The Innovation Prize will provide key funding to create a prototype EcoBlock, which will serve as a valuable learning experience before taking the program to other cities. This includes the completion of the Model EcoCode, initial site selection, community outreach, establishment of a Community Land Trust and initial design of the green infrastructure.

Up to ten prices will be awarded. Finalists will be invited to New York City in the fall to present their ideas to the Fund’s trustees, and awards will be formally announced in November 2019.