The American Society of Landscape Architects just released an incredible useful and comprehensive database of 479 case studies of successful “green rainwater infrastructure” projects. It exemplifies various techniques of collecting rainwater and filtering it naturally before it flows into urban waterways as polluted runoff. Moreover, the study found that the use of green infrastructure is rarely cost-prohibitive. In fact, 75% of the projects in the database reduced development costs or had no impact on them.
One of the model case studies is Tassafaronga Housing Village in Oakland, CA. This Gold Certified LEED ND neighborhood, planned and designed by David Baker + Partners, keeps its runoff out of the bay with vegetated roofs, downspout soil boxes and bioswales. The undulating green roof sits atop a three-story apartment building that mixes affordable and higher income rental units. Bioswales, defined as sloping drainage areas filled with vegetation, flank the development’s streets collecting the runoff and removing pollutants from it.
Another project highlight was an integrated solar panel and rainwater harvesting installation at Apache Nitrogen Product’s office building in Benson, Arizona. The design firm, Solar Gain Inc., constructed several structures to house a 42 kw photovoltaic system. These new structures not only create shaded spaces for employees to meet within, but also channel stormwater into an underground water storage system. The collected water feeds a waterfall, fountain and the site’s landscaping.
Other projects demonstrate that green infrastructure can be beautiful. One such example is H2O Flow, a site-specific environmental landscape sculpture created by artist Michael Roy Layne for the Chapel Hill City Hall. The sculpture’s bamboo form mirrors the curvilinear landscape to slow and disperse stormwater during strong rains. The artist says that it is meant to encourage “an understanding of the importance of landforms in protecting our water resources.”