Sierra Club, Sewall and Greenleaf Advisors Launch SmartSiting Project in Great Lakes

April 10, 2012 -- The Sierra Club, James W. Sewall Company, and Greenleaf Advisors are building a team of stakeholders to develop a regional web-based GIS for siting wind energy projects in the Great Lakes. The proposed online system, the first wind siting tool of its kind in the US, will provide developers, regulators, government officials, NGOs, landowners and other organizations with high-value environmental and ecospatial information for use in identifying offshore project sites and evaluating the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of development in the region. 

The first phase of the SmartSiting Project, launched in early January, includes an outreach to key stakeholders to inform, identify and recruit project partners; and a legal review of the regulations affecting offshore wind development and submerged land leasing in the Great Lakes. In subsequent phases, the team will collect and develop environmental, cultural, economic and commercial datasets from a variety of sources, integrating them into the web-based GIS.  In concept, the new system’s design and data integration process will be based in part on existing Great Lakes web-based atlases and the Offshore Wind Energy GIS (OWEGIS), an ecospatial information management system created by Dr. Susan Elston at the University of Maine and refined in collaboration with its commercial partner, Sewall. OWEGIS comprises over 650 layers of coastal- and marine-related data used in siting wind power projects in the Gulf of Maine.

According to Emily Green, Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program Director, “We see the SmartSiting system as an innovative collaborative tool that will provide key stakeholders with a wide range of accurate, project-specific information essential to site evaluation, siting decisions and permitting. It will also refocus the discussion about data—where it comes from, how relevant it is—to the actual critical issues of wind power development in the Great Lakes.”

According to John Andersen, President of Greenleaf Advisors, “Renewable Energy is not truly sustainable unless its infrastructure is developed intelligently, beginning with siting  decisions that are well informed by scientific data, revealing environmental, economic and social values impacted.”

The first phase of the $225,000 SmartSiting Project is funded by in part by a grant to The Sierra Club Foundation from The SC Johnson Fund, Inc.

About Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the US. Founded by John Muir, the organization has been working to protect communities, wild places and the planet itself since 1892. For more information, please visit or contact: Emily Green, Great Lakes Program Director, at 608-257-4994; Email Contact

About Sewall: Founded in 1880, Sewall is an integrated team of geospatial, engineering and natural resource consultants who partner with clients to create practical, sustainable solutions. The company’s diverse portfolio is based on 130 years' experience in surveying and civil engineering; 60 years' in aerial mapping; and 20 years' in GIS and application development. To obtain more information, please visit or contact: Ray Corson, Vice President, at 207-827-4456; Email Contact

About Greenleaf Advisors:  Greenleaf Advisors is a consulting and transaction-services firm that builds sustainable enterprises and communities by bridging them to the resources and strategies they need to develop in a healthy way.  To obtain more information, please visit or contact: John Andersen, President, at 312-846-7871; Email Contact

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