Philadelphia Green Infrastructure Video

7 09 2010

I recently came across this video covering Philadelphia’s Green Infrastructure Efforts. It was created by GreenTreks, an award-winning Philadelphia-based non profit communications organization dedicated to educating people about the interconnectedness of environmental, societal, economic, and individual health. For more information and links to other resources on Philadelphia’s triple bottom line green infrastructure strategy  see our past post  Triple Bottom Line of Green Infrastructure.

Brian Phelps





Metro Green Infrastructure Master Plan Now On-line

1 09 2010

Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County’s Green Infrastructure Master Plan is now available on Metro Water Services’ website. The plan was prepared by amec, Hawkins Partners, Urban Blueprint, and the Low Impact Development Center. The plan includes the following:

  • Green Infrastructure Practice – Overview of Green Infrastructure and descriptions of various practices.
  • Technical Analysis of Green Infrastructure – Analysis of the CSS area with respect to green roofs, three kinds of infiltration practices, tree planting, and rainfall harvesting (cisterns and rain barrels) and its potential impacts on the CSS.
  • Green Infrastructure Projects – Brief overview of the preliminary design concepts for six projects.
  • Green Infrastructure Incentives and Financing – Summary of various potentially applicable incentive practices that have been applied in other cities to encourage the use of Green Infrastructure.

Click here to download the entire plan in PDF format





Deaderick Street Discussed at StormCon 2010

20 08 2010

Kim Hawkins, a principal with our office, recently spoke at this years StormCon in San Antonio, TX. She and Jim Snyder P.E., who at the time of the design and construction of the street was with Metro Nashville Public Works and who is now with Metro Nashville Water Services , spoke about the process of bring Nashville’s 1st Green Street to fruition. The following is the abstract about the presentation.

ABSTRACT: DEADERICK STREET – TENNESSEE’S 1ST GREEN STREET

Nashville, TN

Nashville Metro Public Works, Client

Hawkins Partners, Inc worked with the Office of the Mayor and Metro Public Works to transform a historically and civically significant corridor in the downtown area which serves as a physical connector between the city/county courthouse and the state legislative arm of government. Prior to the renovations, the street had become most widely known as the central transfer point for the Metro bus system. In the fall of 2008 the bus system’s hub was relocated one block north to the ambitious Music City Central, presenting an opportunity to re-envision the street itself.

Deaderick Street sits within the Kerrigan Basin, one of Nashville’s Combined Storm Sewer (CSS) basins, that has historically been subject to overflows., it is Nashville’s first implementation of LID features in the public right-of-way, the first green street in Tennessee and one of the first green street applications in the southeast. The renovations to the street primarily focused on addressing stormwater issues and urban trees.  Pervious surface within the right of way was increased by 700% through the use of rain gardens, pervious concrete and .bioswales were implemented in pedestrian bulbs at the intersections.  The site design worked within the context of the existing street and the existing storm drainage system, retrofitting existing storm drains to serve as overflow only. Rain gardens and bioswales were designed with engineered soils to allow infiltration and planted with plants, including many natives, that are adaptable to the extremes of wet and dry conditions. Based on Nashville’s historical rainfall patterns, infiltration rates and variable design factors, it is estimated that over 1.2 million gallons will be removed from the CSO system on an annual basis through this three block urban street..

In addition to the stormwater aspects of Deaderick, a number of other sustainable features were incorporated into the street, including LED lighting, recycled steel site furniture, crushed concrete as base aggregate material, fly ash for concrete and solar powered parking meters.





Ecological Importance of Southeastern Rivers

10 03 2010

Interpretive signs for an upcoming project near the Harpeth River in Williamson County will highlight the ecological significance of the waters of the southeastern United States. If you didn’t know, the rivers and streams of middle Tennessee are part of the most unique and diverse freshwater ecosystem in the entire world. This has to do with a couple things, namely the temperate climate combined with the fact that much of the area was unglaciated, or it as been more geologically stable than other parts of the U.S.

Just to give you an idea the area is home to more than 250 species of crayfish (70% of all the species in the entire U.S.), more than 300 species of mussels (over 1/3 of these live in Tennessee), and more than half the freshwater fish species in the U.S. Because of this great diversity, Tennessee has more freshwater fish that are at-risk than any other state. These species are at-risk largely due to pressures from development practices, which allow sediments and pollutants to wash into our rivers and streams. This and other topics concerning protection of critical watersheds can be found in, Rivers of Life or States of the Union: Ranking America’s Biodiversity, just some of the publications found on the NatureServe’s website.

Graphic from 'Rivers of Life', published by NatureServe

As mentioned in an earlier post, the implementation of ‘green street’ practices on Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville will divert approximately 1.2 million gallons of stormwater a year from the Cumberland River. This is water that would have otherwise run unabated into the river carrying all of the pollutants and sediments from the street. Understanding the significance of the region’s biodiversity is a good reminder of what we are trying to protect when implementing green infrastructure planning and strategies –and why this is especially important here in the Southeast and Middle Tennessee.

-Sara Putney





Water and the Southeast False Creek Olympic Village

22 02 2010

Cover of Water + Building Landscape (Chapter 6)
from The Challenge Series Website

Staying with the Olympic theme from last week’s post on the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Southeast False Creek Olympic Village is another spectacular example of sustainable building in Vancouver. The Olympic Village will house the athletes throughout the games. Afterward, it will become the home of over 16,000 residents. The following is a link to the diversity of uses that will be or are already included in the development.

A website called “The Challenge Series” has been set up to help educate the public about the Olympic Village’s sustainable features. A well-designed booklet describing the sustainable features of the development is available on the site in pdf format. One that particularly caught my attention was the Water + Building Landscape section (See Cover Above). It explains many sustainable water strategies employed throughout. Some highlights include:

  • The design team recognized the size was not large enough to handle all of the stormwater in the constructed wetland incorporated into Hinge Park. As a result, the team prioritized the water into a two-tier system. The first tier was considered the “cleaner” water that came from the rooftops and podium sections of the building. This water was directed to the cisterns in the basements of each building. The water was then used to flush toilets, supply water features, or irrigate the landscape. Additional water overflowed the cisterns and entered the South False Creek. The second tier included “dirtier” water. This water came from the roadways and other areas. The water from these areas was directed into the constructed wetland or underground gravel/sand infiltration cells.
  • The development reduced potable water use by 40 percent.
  • The site plan incorporates a number of water features that utilize the water collected on the site. The circulation through the water features provides a means of making what would otherwise be invisible visible, while at the same time improving the quality of the water.
  • 287,000 s.f. of green roof covers the development. The roofs include both extensive and intensive green roofs. This was in part because the City of Vancouver mandated that 50% of the roofs be green roofs.
  • The City also mandated the inclusion of urban agriculture at a rate of 24sf for 30% of the units whose balconies were less than 100sf.

The development has received LEED-ND Platinum certification. I look forward to seeing it one day when I return to Vancouver. There have been a number of articles on the development, but I highly recommend reading the information found on The Challenge Series website.

-Brian Phelps





Interview with Portland BES Part 3 of 3

8 02 2010

Mt. Tabor Middle School Rain Garden
Source: City of Portland, Environmental Services ©2009

The following is the third and final part of an email interview I recently conducted with Emily Hauth, project manager with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES)’s Sustainable Stormwater Management Division. Their agency has been a leader in sustainable stormwater implmentation over the last twenty years.

Green Infrastructure Digest (GrID): When it comes to new construction or public projects, it is much easier to require and/or encourage the use of green infrastructure best management practices. Existing development has proven to be much harder, what strategies has the City used to encourage existing developments to retrofit their properties to include green infrastructure and reduce/cleanse stormwater runoff?

Ms. Emily Hauth:

  • Downspout Disconnection Program (1995- present) – Disconnecting downspouts from the sewer system allows roof water to drain to lawns and gardens. Downspouts on many homes are connected directly to the combined sewer system and disconnecting them keeps clean stormwater runoff out of the combined sewer system, which reduces CSO volume. Over 56,000 downspouts have been disconnected since the program began 15 years ago
  • Community Watershed Stewardship Program (1995-present) – provides grants of up to $10,000 to schools, churches, businesses and other community organizations for projects that connect people with watersheds and protect and enhance watershed health.
  • Willamette Stormwater Control Program (2001-2003) – The city offered financial grants and technical support for several projects to retrofit existing commercial properties served by the combined sewer. This was to research the feasibility, cost and performance of commercial sustainable stormwater approaches. The city distributed about $350,000 to 11 projects.
  • Innovative Wet Weather Program (2002-) – promotes stormwater management projects that contribute to healthy Portland watersheds. Between 2002 and 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the city $2.6 million to fund over 25 innovative public and private projects throughout the city that demonstrate sustainable, low-impact stormwater management solutions.
  • Clean River Rewards (2006-present) – a stormwater utility discount program for private property owners who manage stormwater on their property. They can receive a discount of up to 100% of their on-site stormwater management charge.
  • Grey to Green Program (2008-) – The city offers incentives of up to $5 per square foot to add new ecoroofs. The city also offers treebates to encourage people to plant eligible yard trees. The treebate is a credit on the recipient’s sewer bill of up to $40 per tree ($50 for native species).
  • Private Property Retrofit Program (2009-) – The Tabor to the River Program offers design assistance and construction dollars for on-site stormwater management on targeted private properties. The program is available only in areas where stormwater retrofits will allow the city to avoid more costly sewer replacement projects. The city will install rain gardens, stormwater planters, swales or ecoroofs on sites that meet program criteria at no cost to the property owner. Property owners who want to install a facility themselves could qualify to receive financial incentives and technical assistance.
  • WorkingGreenPortland.com (2009-) – includes information on private property stormwater management technique, calculators to determine impacts for individual properties, and links to stormwater retrofit professionals and other resources.
  • Ecoroof Floor Area Ratio Bonus – Development proposals in the central city that include a green roof, can receive bonus floor area.
  • Education and Outreach – Numerous efforts to engage communities and increase public understanding and acceptance are critical to the success of all city programs.
  • Technical Assistance – the city offers technical assistance to professionals and property owners for implementation of sustainable stormwater management approaches.

12th Avenue Green Street
Source: City of Portland, Environmental Services ©2009

GrID: What do you see as the future of green infrastructure?

Ms. Hauth: I would say future green infrastructure in our urban environment will include:

  • Green connectors – streets that connect parks and open space, schools, and commercial areas to neighborhoods; encourage walking and biking by providing enhanced and safer pedestrian and/or bicycle routes; and provide environmental benefits.
  • Green refuges within our urban environment – reclaiming unused spaces or derelict sites within our cities for stormwater management and passive recreation.
  • Ecodistricts – integrated neighborhoods that capture, manage, and reuse a majority of energy, water, and waste on site; offer a range of transportation options; provide a rich diversity of habitat and open space; and enhance community engagement and well-being.
  • Volunteer Green Street Maintenance Program – engaging community members to help in the care and maintenance of green streets.
  • Possible onsite stormwater management discount to property owners for adjacent public green streets.
  • Cost benefit analysis of the ecosystem services provided by green infrastructure in meeting the triple bottom line.

For more information visit our wesbite

If you missed the first parts of the interview, you can find them here.

Part 1

Part 2

-Brian Phelps





Interview with Portland BES Part 2 of 3

5 02 2010

Green Street Curb Extension at SE 12th and Clay
(Gateway to the Clay Street green connector)
Source: City of Portland, Environmental Services ©2009

The following is the second part of an email interview I recently conducted with Emily Hauth, project manager with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES)’s Sustainable Stormwater Management Division. Their agency has been a leader in sustainable stormwater implmentation over the last twenty years. She would like to credit Tim Kurtz, engineer at BES with the following responses.

Green Infrastructure Digest (GrID): What role do green streets play in the City’s overall stormwater management strategy, particularly their role in addressing stormwater overflows in your CSO districts as compared to the big pipe projects (i.e. Columbia Slough Big Pipe, East Side Big Pipe, West Side Big Pipe)? What lessons have you learned over the course of implementing your green streets projects?

Mr. Tim Kurtz: Our CSO control program began in 1991. We are completing construction of our third large CSO tunnel to help us complete the program by the mandated deadline of 2011. But several projects to reduce CSO volume by removing stormwater from the combined sewer system are very important to the CSO control effort. For example, we have disconnected thousands of downspouts from the combined sewer system since 1995. It’s a relatively low-cost CSO solution but it’s a major part of our green infrastructure. Downspout disconnections remove more than 1.2-billion gallons of stormwater annually from the combined sewer system.

Green streets will play an important role in ensuring that our new CSO tunnels remain under capacity as new growth and development increase stormwater volume in the future.

Green streets also help alleviate basement flooding from sewer backups in neighborhoods with combined sewers; they are a good alternative to sumps and sedimentation manholes, and they are an important tool in meeting water quality requirements in Portland’s urban streams.

We use Green Streets and other stormwater management facilities to meet different needs such as improved water quality, flow control, and complete infiltration. We’ve learned that soils can be a determining factor in how our facilities are constructed to meet our different goals. On Portland’s east side, soils typically meet our infiltration rates (>= 2 “per hour) but often require underground rock storage to meet complete disposal goals. On the city’s west side, where soils are much tighter, we typically line facilities to meet water quality goals.

Monitoring green street function has been important in proving that they work and that green infrastructure makes good fiscal sense. In the 2.5 square mile Tabor to the River Program area, green streets save us money. The original estimate using traditional grey infrastructure was $144 million in today’s dollars. Two years later, the program was re-designed with a combination of grey and green infrastructure. The current estimate for this integrated approach is $81 million. Through monitoring we’ve also evaluated and modified design components to improve function. We’ve realized economies of scale with larger project areas. We’ve also created guidelines for green street construction practices, recognizing that incorrect soil types and compacted soils can hinder green street function

GrID: With the recent Portland Tribune article regarding the 44th Avenue and Seymour Street Green Street Project, what is your process for implementing a green street project? To what extent do you involve the public in the design/location of the facilities?

Mr. Kurtz: The outreach process for green street implementation always includes property owners affected by a green street facility. With all projects, we meet with adjacent property owners, attend neighborhood and business association meetings, offer presentations to groups, distribute informational publications and host green street tours.

  • At 30% design, the city sends information to adjacent residents for small projects or all project area residents for larger projects.
  • At 90% design, the city mails notification to all project area residents of upcoming construction.
  • Depending on project needs and priority, there may be flexibility in facility type and location. But the city determines the final design to meet system needs.
  • Adjacent property owners can choose from a set of planting templates, with the opportunity for some customization.

The public has responded positively to this hands-on approach to explain the benefits and cost savings of green streets. More than 100 citizens have called to ask the city to install a green street facility next to their homes. Of course, not all property owners are supportive, as is the case along SW 44th and Seymour. We view this public process also as an opportunity to receive feedback, both negative and positive, and work to address the issues.

Back to Part 1

Part 3-Monday

Flow Test Monitoring of Green Street in Portland
Source: City of Portland, Environmental Services ©2009

-Brian Phelps