About the EcoDistrict

The High Falls EcoDistrict is the First Registered EcoDistrict in the State of New York! 

Welcome to the World of EcoDistricts

The High Falls EcoDistrict is a conceptual framework to reimagine our community and design a vibrant urban dis a self-defined area zes economic, social and environmental equity.

What is an EcoDistrict?

An EcoDistrict is a self-defined area that is committed to achieving ambitious sustainability performance goals, implementing both large scale and household level projects, and tracking the results over time. 

  • Livable…by creating engaged vibrant and culturally rich places and spaces
  • Prosperous…by lifting up opportunity for all people
  • Healthy…by promoting wellness and happiness..
  • Connected…by promoting physical and digital accessibility
  • Biodiverse…by promoting ecosystem health and function
  • Restorative…by reducing polluting activities and restoring natural capital

Each performance area has an accompanying set of metrics with which to establish a baseline and measure progress over time.

The benefit of the EcoDistrict framework is the collaborative, integrated nature of the work and metrics that offer concrete tracking of progress. By integrating core imperatives across the scope of the project, we aim to place social sustainability at the center of our urban regeneration efforts.

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to watch a short video from ECODISTRICTS.ORG (formerly Portland Sustainability Institute or PSI) that explains the fundamentals of EcoDistricts.

Thanks to a grant received from the FLREDC and New York State through NYSERDA, Greentopia will now create the very first EcoDistrict in New York State joining an international movement of economically and ecologically advanced cities such as Portland, OR; Vancouver, British Columbia; Malmo, Sweden; and Utrecht, Netherlands.

We are excited about this new initiative and the future of downtown Rochester.

Get Involved!

We are gathering community input on the EcoDistrict. Take this survey to have your voice heard on this exciting topic and share how you would like to see Rochester become a green urban leader.


The Greentopia EcoDistrict at High Falls

Greentopia received a grant of $240,000 from NYSERDA in December 2014 for planning and organization of the state’s first EcoDistrict. The following Spring, Greentopia started 2-year study to identify projects that will advance an EcoDistrict framework.

The study will engage business owners, artistic communities, our local government, developers and citizens groups. We will target projects in transportation, energy, recycling, bio-diversity and water that can benefit residents, develop new green spaces and reduce the area’s overall greenhouse gas footprint. The district will encompass neighborhoods adjacent to the Genesee River Gorge at High Falls as well as Red Wings & Sahlen Stadiums, MCC and parts of the JOSANA neighborhood. We will address environmental goals that include improved waste management solutions, reduced carbon footprint, energy and water efficiencies, storm water management and habitat through a combination of mixed use, mixed income development, neighborhood scale parks, schools, and services.

Just 90 minutes from Western and Central NY regions and the Canadian border, the District will foster our region’s global advantage as business markets increasingly address climate change and improve stewardship of natural resources. It will create an opportunity to refine sustainable design in advanced manufacturing and high-tech services, leverage public/private funding in the green economy, grow exports and expand academic-industry partnerships. It will diversify and strengthen regional economic supply chains, promote inter-regional collaboration and address global concerns over climate change.

The creation of the High Falls EcoDistrict meets the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Regions priorities by fueling economic and physical renewal, coupled with true environmental benefits. It is a new paradigm for sustainable development. The EcoDistrict will help grow the city and the region sustainably, prepare for the impact of climate change and breathe new life into existing neighborhoods through innovation and green jobs. The High Falls EcoDistrict will be a comprehensive approach to social, environmental and economic needs; it will require buildings and neighborhoods to meet concrete sustainability performance standards of energy, water, waste, and transportation systems; all of which are outlined as part of the region’s economic goals.

The Critical Team Goes to Portland

Greentopia engaged ECODISTRICTS.ORG as primary consultant to assist in the creation of the District. We put together a critical team of seven members, consisting of city and county sustainability and parks officials, an urban planner, a local developer, Greentopia co-founder and board chair and sustainability director of Monroe Community College. This team trained in Portland, OR (home of ECODISTRICTS.ORG) in June 2015 and returned to Rochester with skills necessary to begin the larger process of community engagement and participation in the District’s formation.

The Case for EcoDistricts

EcoDistricts are transformational and based in sustainable design & development. This model has proven to be a successful and innovative approach for cities to prepare for a more sustainable future by looking at the sum of the whole and not just as independent initiatives.

One of the greatest advantages of participating in this exciting movement is that best practices can be shared and learned from. The Greentopia EcoDistrict will be the first of its kind in the State of New York making it a model for other communities locally, regionally and statewide.

Together, EcoDistricts have the potential for larger scale impact beyond the borders of each independently formed district – carbon reduction, greater impact on an equitable community, additional water efficiency, carbon sequestration, greater waste reduction, and more potential for EcoDistrict awareness to excite the community to take action.

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