Bridgette Meinhold

The Green At College Park is the First Certified Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) Landscape

by , 02/17/12

The Green at College Park, UT at Arlington, sustainable sites initiative, sustainable landscape, SITES, green landscape

INHABITAT: For this specific project, what strategies did you work on to get the SITES certification?

Janna Tidwell, Schrickel Rollins & Associates: Although there were numerous strategies addressed to achieve SITES certification the most significant for this project is the management of storm water and creation of habitat and plant biomass. From the beginning of the project the landscape architect was intrigued with an eroded drainage channel that flanked the western edge of the site.  A drainage area map, developed by the team, revealed 1/3 of the campus drained into this channel.

To preserve the land to be used by people and avoid piping and draining all of the run-off into nearby Johnson Creek, a water body known for severe flooding, the project designer challenged the team of landscape architects and engineers to turn the channel into a site amenity that manages storm water.  The entire design of the site revolves around where a drop of water falls and how it is managed across the site. Soil and vegetation work together to increase infiltration, filter out pollutants and serve as a dynamic garden to be enjoyed.

INHABITAT: In terms of measurable impact, what does the SITES certification mean for The Green at College Park?

Janna Tidwell, Schrickel Rollins & Associates: In the past many have thought the development of rain gardens and passive storm water management systems in North Central Texas was impossible because of the highly plastic clay soils predominate in the region. The Green at College Park is a working example of how projects with these types of soils can be developed sustainably. It is our hope that this rating draws attention to attention and inspire projects that manage storm water and serve as an amenity for people to enjoy.

David Hopman, Associate Professor at UT At Arlington: The Sites certification shows the design team and client what was done correctly and where future projects can improve relative to the performance benchmarks of the 9 categories in SITES. It elevates the thinking of the entire project team. For example, the biomass density index was not on the radar of most of the stakeholders before certification. The Green worked the project “backwards” by certifying a project that was already designed. The strength of the certification is proscriptive and will be very important on the design and construction process of future projects. SITES will also help the College Park Center (coliseum) achieve LEED Gold certification.

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