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Traffic Roundabout: Award-Winning Civic Space

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 1st, 2012

Source: City Parks Blog

Photo: Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects

From “A Design that Celebrates the People”: Normal, IL Traffic Circle Wins Smart Growth Award as New Civic Space” by Colleen Gentles:

[In December last year], EPA announced the winners of the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. We are excited to report that Normal, Illinois is the recipient of the award in the Civic Places category for their traffic roundabout.

We’ve written before about how the town’s new traffic circle has successfully managed traffic flow at a busy five-way intersection, diverted thousands of gallons of untreated stormwater away from the nearby creek, and become the town center by bringing residents together in an attractive public space. The more recent news is how the traffic roundabout is spurring local economic development with the construction of a multimodal transportation station adjacent to the circle, courtesy of a U.S. Department of Transportation grant. Both the transportation hub, which will eventually have high-speed rail service and create an estimated 400-500 new jobs, and the circle take advantage of the town’s existing infrastructure, bus service, and the historic central business district to attract even more residents to the new town center.

“The one-third-acre roundabout does much more than move cars. It invites pedestrians with shade trees, benches, lighting, bike parking, green space, and a water feature. People have lunch, read, and play music, and the open space invites community gatherings such as a holiday caroling event. It is the anchor for a community-wide revitalization and is part of Uptown Normal’s LEED-ND Silver recognition.

A popular rails-to-trails conversion, the Constitution Trail, leads to and around the roundabout, helping both to revitalize Normal and to bring people from surrounding areas to Normal’s central district. A new Children’s Discovery Museum on the edge of the roundabout already receives over 140,000 visitors per year, and a hotel and conference enter have recently opened nearby. One indication of the success of the redevelopment is that property values in the district have increased by about 30 percent since 2004.” Smart Growth Awards

According to the short video, this traffic circle was almost banned to pedestrians. It’s a good thing town officials fought back. [Watching the video, it looks like there are weekly farmers markets held on the roundabout too.  KA]

Read more about the project here, as well as the other winners from the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

The roundabout was designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects.  Check out their site for more photos and project details.

Photo: Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects


Smart Stormwater Management: India

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 12th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute

From “A Success Story in Parched India” by Kamaria Greenfield:

Wankute, a tiny village located high in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Maharashtra state of India, was dry and near-barren in the 1990s. Agriculture was limited to crops that could withstand hot temperate and little water, such as millet and certain legumes. The men worked outside of the village to bring in enough income for their families. Women sometimes walked for a kilometer and a half to obtain the day’s water. During the three months of annual, inevitable drought, the villagers would pay to have water tankers come in.

[…]

In 2003, the residents heard about the success of watershed development in similar nearby villages and wanted to try it for themselves. The main problem in Wankute was not that there was no rainfall, but that the limited 450 millimeters that fell every year did so during a short period of time, usually for less than three weeks. To transform their community, the village partnered with the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), a not-for-profit NGO that works in several Indian states, to bring much-needed water and prosperity to Wankute.

Since 1996, WOTR has conducted 747 watershed projects in India. The first of its eleven developmental sectors is a commitment to Integrated Water Resources Management. Efforts were at first met with some skepticism and resistance. Villagers were especially uneasy when WOTR mandated a ban on tree felling and the free grazing of cattle. But this was necessary for the planting of new trees and grasses, which would hold the soil and moisture in place. The main idea of the watershed development in Wankute was to build a water treatment structure composed of bunds (ridges and ditches in the soil) and check dams.

Today, the results are clear. The water tables have risen significantly and the villagers have not imported tankers for water since the project was finished. The vegetation planted eight years ago continues to thrive on the hillsides. And overall employment has increased because farmers can work with their crops for eight months out of the year instead of a meager three. A wide variety of more water-intensive crops now flourish, including wheat, tomato, onion, and potato. Because of this bounty, the export of foodstuffs and the import of agricultural labor have both increased. In addition to agricultural benefits, the watershed development has also had health and social benefits for the village. There is now no shortage of potable water, reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses such as cholera and dysentery. With their greater total income, the villagers built a new community hall, two new schools, a public health center, 150 latrines, and more roads for better transportation of goods. The women of Wankute have formed nine different self-help groups and invested in alternative energy methods such as solar lampsbecause they can no longer cut down trees for fuel. Furthermore, because labor and resources are now both readily available in the village, men can work locally and families are more physically intact. The introduction of watershed development has had far-reaching effects that, ten or fifteen years ago, neither the people of Wankute nor the world at large could have imagined.

Read the full article by Kamaria Greenfield for Nourishing the Planet.


Keeping Stormwater Out of the Sewer System: Green Roofs

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 6th, 2011

Source: Environmental Research Web

From “Columbia researchers find green roof is a cost-effective way to keep water out of sewers“:

Green roofs like the one atop a Con Edison building in Long Island City, Queens can be a cost-effective way to keep water from running into sewer systems and causing overflows, Columbia University researchers have found. The Con Edison Green Roof, which is home to 21,000 plants on a quarter acre of The Learning Center, retains 30 percent of the rainwater that falls on it. The plants then release the water as vapor, the researchers said in the study (http://www.coned.com/greenroofcolumbia).

If New York City’s 1 billion square feet of roofs were transformed into green roofs, it would be possible to keep more than 10 billion gallons of water a year out of the city sewer system, according to the study led by Stuart Gaffin, research scientist at Columbia’s Center for Climate Systems Research. New York City, like other older urban centers, has a combined sewer system that carries storm water and wastewater. The system often reaches capacity during rains and must discharge a mix of storm water and sewage into New York Harbor, the Hudson River, the East River and other waterways. Con Edison built the green roof and formed its research partnership with Columbia in 2008. The partners saw the green roof and an adjoining white roof as an outdoor laboratory for environmental research. Gaffin’s team found last year that the green roof and white roof save energy and reduce urban air temperatures. Under its “cool roofs” program, Con Edison has turned many roofs on company facilities white to save energy and protect the environment.

“The information we are collecting from Con Edison’s roofs is invaluable in helping us determine the costs and benefits of green infrastructure projects,” Gaffin said. “Without solid data from experiments like this, it is impossible for us to know which projects are the best options for protecting the environment.” “When we built our green roof we were confident that researchers from Columbia would gain important knowledge about protecting the environment,” said Saddie Smith, vice president for Facilities for Con Edison. “Three years later, it’s clear that our project has helped us understand how roofs can save energy, cool the atmosphere and prevent storm water runoff.”

The researchers used instrumentation to measure sunlight, and other forms of energy entering and leaving the green roof. That data allowed them to calculate the amount of energy leaving the roof in the form of water vapor. The study concluded that based on the cost of building and maintaining a green roof it costs as little as 2 cents a year to capture each gallon of water.

This article is from Columbia University via Environmental Research Web.


Green Roofs for Stormwater Management

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 24th, 2010

Source: Worldchanging


Image: Rotterdam Climate Initiative

From “Green Roofs in Rotterdam: Studies, Plans, Outreach, and Reducing Flood Risks” by Allison Killing:

Rotterdam’s initiative to promote the creation of green roofs within the city has seen just under 10% of the roofs suitable for this converted into green roofs. The project is part of the Rotterdam Climate Initiative, run by the Rotterdam city council, Port Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency with the aim of reducing the city’s CO2 emissions by 50% and helping the city adapt to climate change.

Although large areas of green roofs have many benefits for cities, such as reducing air pollution and helping to combat the heat island effect, Rotterdam’s priority was for water retention, since the city has a shortage of areas where water can be stored following heavy rainfall. Water management has always been a major concern in the Netherlands, since approximately 60% of the country lies below sea level. The analysis of the potential of green roofs in Rotterdam that preceded the introduction of the subsidies focused heavily on their capacity for water storage in order to reduce peak water discharge following a rain storm and help prevent flooding.

Read the full article on Worldchanging.


Citygarden, St Louis.

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 10th, 2010

Source: World Architects


Photo: Steve Hall / ©Hedrich Blessing

Citygarden employs sustainable technologies which include raingardens that collect stormwater from approximately 70% of the site, green roofs on both buildings, pervious paving, a largely native plant palette, regionally quarried stone, and suspended slab construction to give tree roots in terrace areas room to grow.

Citygarden is a new “urban oasis” in downtown St. Louis, on axis with that city’s popular Gateway Arch. A hybrid between a sculpture garden, botanic garden and city park, the design was spearheaded by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, with two buildings designed by local architects Studio / Durham Architects.

The design of Citygarden derives from the cultural and natural histories of St. Louis and its environs. Acknowledging its position in the heart of the Gateway Mall, a few blocks west of the Arch and the Mississippi River, Citygarden is structured as three precincts delineated by two walls. The northern precinct (or band) represents the high upland ground, the river bluffs. The middle band represents the low ground or floodplain. The southern band represents the cultivated river terraces. A series of outdoor rooms in the northern band provide shaded platforms for specific sculptures, while also providing for sitting, dining and prospects over the upper-level water basin to the rest of the sculpture garden. A 550 foot long arcing wall of Missouri limestone defines the edge between the urban groves of the “uplands” and the low ground of the grassy “floodplain” that occupies the middle band of the site. The third band of Citygarden runs along the southern tier, framed by Market Street on one side and the central “floodplain” on the other. The inner edge of the Market Street gardens is prescribed by 1100 linear feet of granite-topped meander wall, the second major site wall. This nearly continuous seat wall sinuously loops through the garden in evocation of the striking patterns of regional river systems.

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