The handbook demonstrates various ways of collecting and filtering rainwater naturally before it is incorporated into urban waterways.
The study also found that green infrastructure did not increase expenses. The change in infrastructure had no or reduced costs in three-quarters of the featured projects. Sites range from single-family homes to large commercial centers and are both new and retrofitted structures.
One example of an updated public space is the Portland State University Urban Center Plaza Stormwater retrofit, in Portland, Oregon. Part of a larger project to green the city’s infrastructure, its architects simply integrated landscaped stormwater planters into to the plaza’s existing fountains.
Designed by Nevue Ngan Associates and Merryman Barnes Architects, the planters don’t compromise the programming of the existing space. Rainwater is collected from the plaza surface and sidewalks and pushed to the lanscape areas through different metal weirs and granite rills. And it’s much more beautiful now, too.
Another university featured in the handbook is Arizona State University, at its polytechnic campus in Mesa, Arizona. The campus project, designed by Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, revolves around renovating an abandoned Air Force base into a “thriving campus for learning.”
The streets of the base that used to flood were transformed into water-harvesting arroyos, or creeks, giving “students and faculty a daily connection to nature” while solving the campus’s stormwater problem. Additionally, shaded courtyards provide the students with outdoor places to come together.
Finally, another large project highlighted in the handbook is the Tassafaronga Housing Village in south Oakland, California. Gold Certified LEED, this planned neighborhood was designed by David Baker + Partners, and has affordable as well as high income housing units.
Runoff is managed by vegetated roofs as well as downspout soil boxes. Bioswales, or drainage areas filled with vegetation, line the streets, collecting runoff and filtering out pollutants.
The guide comes as result of a nation-wide program started by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce stormwater runoff from new and re-development projects. According to the ASLA, the goal of the database is not only to showcase good landscape architecture, but it also to “demonstrate to policymakers the value of promoting green infrastructure policies.”
Projects like the those featured can save communities millions of dollars while improving quality the nation’s water supply.
Photo: Brian Rose for David Baker + Partners