Friday, May 24, 2019

Winners Of 2019 Excellence In Green Stormwater Infrastructure Awards In Philadelphia Region Announced

At a special celebration on May 23, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia recently announced the winners of the 2019 Excellence in Green Stormwater Infrastructure Awards.
The awards celebrate and elevate green stormwater infrastructure projects and innovations, the triple bottom line (TBL) benefits of a nature-based approach to stormwater management, and the partners who bring these projects to life in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
The award winners are--
-- Private Project: Built projects managed in large part by private entity and/or on private property-- Nature’s Sanctuary – West Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Over five years ago, West Laurel Hill Cemetery began efforts to create a more sustainable business practice throughout the cemetery. From this, the concept of a green burial cemetery took place.
Following the USGBC SITES model for a collaborative communication and design process, the design involved every level of decision-maker from concept to ribbon cutting that included Board of Directors, administration, sales, landscape architects, engineers, contractors, funeral directors, grave diggers, maintenance personnel, and local government.
With this design team in place, the strategy of a design that would manage stormwater and grow stronger and become more self-sustaining over time evolved.
With the site perched above the Cynwyd Trail, controlling runoff to the trail below was only the beginning. Improved infiltration via natural meadow and woodland ecosystems, and pervious natural aggregate pavement and raingardens were integral to the design.
Every aspect of the final design was viewed through a lens of sustainability and ecological value, resulting in a unique model for sustainable cemetery design.
Nature’s Sanctuary’s theory of Assisted Ecological Succession utilizes the structure of existing cemetery maintenance staff to maintain, care for, and encourage natural succession processes in a cemetery environment.
The design reintroduces stratified vegetation including groundcover, understory, subcanopy, and canopy, providing the opportunity to retain rainwater on expanded vegetative surface area.
The cooling effects of evapotranspiration and shade offer natural amenities to cool stormwater before it flows to nearby streams.
Designed to evolve into a native climax forest, Nature’s Sanctuary provides a lovely interment option to the community, while also allowing cemetery patrons to be a part of the eternal legacy of this restored ecosystem
-- Public Project: Built projects managed in large part by a public agency and/or on public property (municipal, state, federal)--  Chester Arthur Schoolyard by SALT Design Studio.
Established in 1963, the Chester Arthur School currently enrolls 261 K-8 students in Philadelphia’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood. The school’s catchment zone also includes residents who lack access to public green space within a ten-minute walk from their homes.
In 2015, Friends of Chester Arthur (FoCA) commissioned SALT Design Studio (SALT) to design a renovation of the Chester Arthur Schoolyard that implemented green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and integrated the fledgling STEM curriculum into a schoolyard landscape, while also addressing the bigger issues or place-making, sustainability, and how urban schoolyards can transform learning environments.
SALT’s involvement with this project spanned more than two years, from initial design through construction, and included ongoing engagement with multiple stakeholders, and overall project coordination.
Initial site investigations revealed that the 90 percent impervious asphalt schoolyard was ecologically barren, home to minimal wildlife or plants, and contributing nearly all its stormwater as runoff into the combined sewer system.
The schoolyard’s design process focused on an experiential and holistic approach to play and learning, with sustainability as a centerpiece.
Site improvements were organized into outdoor “labs” focused on habitat, systems, motion, and energy, enabling teachers to bring STEM initiatives out of the classroom and into the landscape.
The rain garden, bioswales, and porous paving in the newly designed parking lot manage all on-site stormwater, allowing children to interact with collected stormwater in various ways.
The Chester Arthur Schoolyard renovation reflects the mission of the school through its landscape, by repositioning the outdoor learning environment as an essential component to an integrated and holistic approach to primary education.
-- Project Innovation: Processes, programs or technology that break new ground, by applying information, ingenuity, and initiative to significantly advance GSI’s impact - The Kelly Green Project – Asarum LandDesign.
Together, the Kelly Green Project, along with Asarum LandDesign Group has been working to transform the John B. Kelly school grounds from a vacant blighted landscape to a healthy vibrant play, education, and community gathering space.
Employing a socially engaged design and planning process to cultivate community buy-in, ownership, and stewardship, the project is revolutionary in that it builds the capacity for project success through design, construction, environmental literacy innovation, and educational programing, while also embracing a process that employs incremental steps to achieve a vision that continues to be caused.
Frequently, when we “give” GSI to a neighborhood or school without creative social engagement, there is no community investment and therefore no ownership or stewardship. The Kelly Green Project is working differently—working to build the community’s capacity by ensuring the ownership is present and possible, so that stewardship has a chance.
By building smaller-scale community supported “seed projects” with little to no budget, Asarum and the Kelly Green Project have been directly fostering effective engagement, building leadership and inspiring investment, which is fostering ownership by the community.
Environmentally, the project’s meadow and natural play space function to infiltrate water, restore and celebrate local biodiversity, and provide opportunities for environmental education.
Socially, the project builds community pride and ownership and offers a place to gather and creatively play. Economically, the transformation of these spaces functions to create a foundation for new economic opportunities for local families.
Overall, the socially engaged design at the Kelly School directly meets triple bottom line objectives through direct investment of the community, by the community, for the community.
-- Technology Innovation - Model My Watershed, Stroud Water Research Center.   
The Model My Watershed web app functions as both a learning tool and a land-use decision making tool.
Developed by Stroud Water Research Center, the app allows students and professionals to explore the environmental impact of human activity on their neighborhoods and watersheds by using two different models to estimate stormwater runoff and human impacts to water quality.
The combination of engineer-grade stormwater models paired with a BMP library and national data sets in web-based software, makes the tool accessible via workstation, laptop, or mobile device and easy to leverage with no extensive training.
As a result, it reduces many of the costs and technical barriers that are encountered when bringing environmental education to the public.
The app allows users to perform site-specific stormwater runoff analysis, exploring the geographic, social, political, and environmental challenges related to GSI and its impacts. Its innovative design allows the application to learn from other models and incorporate them in real time.
Model My Watershed is a part of Stroud Water Research Center’s greater WikiWatershed, an online toolkit for supporting citizens, conservationists, municipal decision-makers, researchers, educators, and students further their understanding and stewardship of fresh water.
By using the concepts of place-based and problem-based learning, Model My Watershed engages and excites students about career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in hopes that it enables them to study and address contemporary environmental challenges.
The app’s current users are a combination of teachers and students, citizen scientists, environmental conservation/restoration planners, and state and local land-use planners or practitioners.
The award winners were picked from 10 finalists which were all cutting edge leaders in green stormwater management infrastructure design and implementation.
For more information on programs, initiatives, other upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia website.
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