Category Archives: Low Impact Design

The Coolest Part About the World Cup… (because we all know what the hottest part is)

There are certain sports that I only watch during certain tournaments, unless my favorite teams are playing.  Soccer is one of them, and the tournament being the World Cup…and it only comes once every 4 years.  The first tournament I watched was 2006, of course I was a hard core Italy fan and obnoxiously dressed like a Christmas tree in June.  Although I have always been proud of my Italian heritage, and always will be, after that tournament, there became the exception of that pride being throughout the World Cup.  Sorry, but when I played sports, I played hard until the whistle, I didn’t throw myself into the ground asking for one.  Anyway, I’ve never seen so much passion in any sporting event than I do with world soccer.  It’s absolutely amazing, people watch to become part of that passion, to come together as a nation to root for people we’ve never heard of, and suddenly they become the most important celebrities that exist; we even talk about how we are going to start a soccer team (which never happens), and all our future children will be soccer players.  We hear about teams, players, eliminations, and even details about weather and the city where the tournament is taking place, but we’ve heard very little about the actual buildings.

The venues for the 2014 World Cup, like the 2012 Olympic stadiums in London, were designed to be sustainable buildings!  They recycle and reuse waste, they use solar power, they are carbon neutral for gosh sakes… they even have monorail transportation to limit pollution from cars traveling to the games!  As you will see below in the stadium descriptions below by FIFA, these stadiums are smaller than American Football stadiums, you can imagine the impact of retrofitting those stadiums to meet the standards of the Brazilian soccer complex!  Let’s step it up NFL!!!

Now let’s watch the US take on Portugal…because the whole world will be rooting for that hot guy, so we need all of the positive energy we can get!!  USA USA!!!

 

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Given that the stadium in Cuiaba set to host matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ neighbours the flora- and fauna-rich region that is the Pantanal, it is no surprise that sustainability has been a central theme of the construction and maintenance of the new arena from the project’s very beginning.

This sustainable approach has been applied to every detail along the way, with the wood used in the construction coming from certified sources and the waste and rubbish produced being recycled – thus enabling them to be reused within the building project and its access routes. The site’s air and soil quality is also constantly monitored, all of which means the stadium’s nickname of ‘O Verdão’ (The Big Green) is particularly appropriate.

Specially built for Brazil 2014 – when it will host four matches – the Arena Pantanal will boast a capacity of 41,112 and will occupy the site where the Estadio Jose Fragelli used to be. This multi-purpose stadium will have an adaptable structure, which can be reduced in size once Brazil 2014 is over. The covered arena is thus an ideal setting to host a variety of events such as shows, exhibitions and trade fairs, while local clubs such as Mixto and Operario may also take advantage of the new venue.

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Few Brazilian cities can match the capital Brasilia when it comes to architecture, and the imposing Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha is a reflection of that, an arena with seating for 69,349 spectators, making it the second largest of the stadiums hosting matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.

The city’s Estadio Nacional has been all but demolished to make way for the stadium, which boasts a new facade, metal roof and stands, as well as a lowered pitch enabling unobstructed views from every seat.

Founded on carbon neutrality, recycling and complete access via public transport, this environmentally friendly construction project consolidates Brasilia’s status as a world leader in sustainable urban planning, creating a valuable legacy for other sectors of the local economy.

The Estadio Nacional will host the Opening Match at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and seven games at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, one of them a quarter-final tie.

The stadium will be Brasilia’s third, along with the Serejao, the home of Brasiliense, and the Bezerrao, which was recently refurbished and reopened in 2008. Following the world finals the arena will be used to host concerts and major cultural events.

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Though not a traditional hotbed of Brazilian football, Manaus is sure to be popular with fans attending the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ thanks to the unique character of the Arena Amazonia, formerly the Estadio Vivaldao.

The city is situated at the heart of the Amazon rainforest, the largest tropical rainforest in the world and the inspiration for the refurbished stadium, which will be enclosed by a metal structure designed to resemble a straw basket, a product the region is famous for.

This sustainable stadium project will provide an important legacy for the region and play its part in helping to preserve the diversity of the Amazonian rainforest. For example, rainwater will be collected for its subsequent use in toilets or to water the pitch, while the region’s abundant supply of sunshine will be harnessed to generate clean and renewable energy. Plant screens will also be created to keep energy costs down and, above all, to control temperatures inside the stadiums.

As well as seating for 40,549 spectators, the Arena Amazonia will feature restaurants and underground parking and will be served by dedicated bus and monorail services. The venue for four group-phase matches at Brazil 2014, the stadium will continue to attract tourists after the tournament by hosting concerts and cultural events.”

Wetlands=Kidneys

wetland biom by bio expedition
wetland biom by bio expedition

Today I received an EPA email that made the analogy linking wetlands and human kidneys. Of course my mind just started racing, and I began writing this post. I remember when I was working in land development during the housing boom, we had too much work to handle, the developers couldn’t buy, clear, and build fast enough. It is Florida, so most of the land purchased and intended for build, contained wetlands, protected trees, and/or protected species. For an area to be considered a wetland, it needs to meet some requirements… they must be inundated by surface or ground water in normal hydrologic conditions, there must be specific “wetland vegetation”, and the soil must be classified as hydric (soils mostly saturated operating under anaerobic conditions). I remember hearing awful rumors about tactics some developers would use to ensure that every portion of their land was develope-able… purposely planting invasive vegetation that would take over the ecosystem by competing with native wetland plants for resources and winning, or plants/trees that require enough water to turn a once wet area, dry. Oh, Father, for they do not know what they do… or they just do not care; regardless, removing wetlands, and then developing lands resulting in more runoff of much lower quality, is a recipe for disaster. There is a reason why they are protected, and contrary to what some may think, there are no tree hugging picket lines chaining themselves to lily pads.

Whether you are a creationist or a big bang theorist, we can pretty much all agree that the human body is a system made by and from nature. It just makes sense that the intricate matrix resembles that of nature. I won’t make all of the connections here, I’ll just stick to the portions run parallel to wetlands. The EPA made a great analogy…wetlands are the kidneys of the environment, they filter out excess nutrients, and provide settling time for particulate bound pollutants (bad stuff attached to dirt) to remove these toxins from water stream. This prevents algae blooms from multiplying to the point that aquatic life is threatened, resulting in hypoxia and summer fish kills. But that’s not all folks, they do even more! Similar to how your bladder holds fluids, wetlands hold water, storing water along the path, to reduce peak flows, and slow down flow, preventing from erosion and sudden temperature changes (for aquatic life).

Wetlands are an important part of responsible planning and sustainable development. They can be constructed to alleviate impacts of development and urbanization on the hydrograph (how the stormwater runoff flows during and after a storm), and to filter pollutants prior to outfall to a natural water body connected to our drinking water sources. Wetlands also promote infiltration, recharging the groundwater table, making them an important part of the hydrologic cycle.

Next time you take a walk, I encourage you to make connections between the system within yourself and the system in which we live. The parallels can give us a better understanding of the importance of taking care of our environment.

Don’t Fertilize During Wet Season!!!

lwreng lwrspanI use Lakewood Ranch, Florida as an example of low impact development for the aesthetic use of vegetative swales in place of curb and gutter. Now I can also use this area as an example of responsible planning as they banned the use of fertilizers during the wet season!!! This will help prevent algae blooms (eutrophication) by eliminating excess nutrient load to natural and man made water bodies!

Developers…Low Impact Development is your best friend

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I’ve been saying this for 10 years now: Low impact development techniques benefit all.  Developers cringe at the sound of anything “tree-hugger” sounding.  They immediately think “unnecessary, and expensive.”  You will not see many developers, or many people for that matter, going above and beyond to minimize their impact on the ecosystem when there is no immediate benefit to them or their company.  Low impact development (LID) are design strategies that increase aesthetics, increase water and air quality, provide storage to prevent from flooding, reduce peak flows, and reduce erosion (many of these are explained at inspectorplanet.com).  LID can be a profitable development strategy by providing treatment and attenuation are spread throughout a development, ultimately requiring less space for detention ponds, and allowing for more responsible development within regulations, therefore, more units to be sold.  Not that I would ever encourage that, of course the moral approach would be to exceed environmental expectations, but unfortunately, we live in a world where the right thing to do, isn’t always the choice of those monetarily motivated. 

In addition to the economic benefits that LID provides structurally, a study has been conducted concluding that people are willing to pay more for proximity to green space and LID…up to 1.95% more!  So not only are the lives of the plants, animals, aquatic life, and human life minimally adversely impacted by new urbanization, the developer, builder, realtor, and contractors benefits economically as well! 

See the story here:
http://blog.epa.gov/science/2014/04/willingness-to-pay-for-green-space/

Buffalo to treat stormwater with Low Impact Development!!!

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Buffalo, NY is one of the few places with combined sewer systems.  Overflow of these systems causes the combined storm and waste water into Niagara Falls.  Implementing LID to treat and attenuate stormwater can reduce this overflow of polluted water into the Falls.

From EPA:

EPA Approves Buffalo Sewer Authority’s Plan to

Reduce Sewage and Water Pollution in Niagara River

Close to Two Billion Gallons of Sewage Overflows Enter Niagara River and its Tributaries Every Year

 

 

(New York, N.Y. – April 14, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have approved the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s plan to reduce the amount of sewage and stormwater run-off that flow from the city of Buffalo’s combined sewer system. Combined sewer systems, which carry sewage from buildings and stormwater from the streets, are overwhelmed during heavy rain and send untreated sewage into local waters. The plan has been incorporated into a legal order issued by the EPA to the Buffalo Sewer Authority. Under the approved plan, the Buffalo Sewer Authority will implement a series of projects that will improve water quality in the Niagara River and its tributaries, including projects that use green infrastructure to soak up and store stormwater that would otherwise increase overflows of raw sewage into local waterways. The Buffalo Sewer Authority has committed to investing $380 million on these projects over 20 years.

 

“The Buffalo Sewer Authority has shown its commitment to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act and improve people’s health and water quality throughout the city,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The incorporation of green infrastructure into the plan will help restore the Niagara River, while building healthier, greener and more sustainable communities.”

 

“EPA, DEC and BSA have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive Long Term Control Plan to significantly improve water quality and reduce combined sewer overflows to the water bodies in the Buffalo and Niagara River watersheds,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “This plan is an important step in achieving cleaner, healthier and more vibrant waters in the City of Buffalo, while providing future opportunities for recreational activities for local residents and visitors. DEC applauds BSA for incorporating green infrastructure into the plan to protect the fresh water resources of the Lake Erie water basin and assist in beautifying an urban landscape.”

 

During periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, the volume of wastewater in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the plant that receives the wastewater for treatment. When this happens, combined sewer systems discharge excess wastewater containing untreated sewage directly into nearby water bodies. These overflows not only contain stormwater and untreated human and industrial waste, but also toxic pollutants and debris. It is estimated that Buffalo’s combined sewer system contributes over 1.75 billion gallons of combined sewage overflow to the Niagara River and its tributaries each year.

 

Green infrastructure is an environmentally friendly technique to manage storm water. It uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage water and create healthier, more resilient urban environments. This type of infrastructure can replace more traditional concrete, or “gray,” solutions. Green infrastructure, which includes green roofs, permeable pavement and other surfaces, rain gardens and restored wetlands, mimics nature by soaking up and storing water.

 

Under a permit issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Buffalo Sewer Authority discharges from its Bird Island wastewater treatment plant outfalls and from combined sewer overflow points into the Niagara River, Black Rock Canal, Erie Basin, Buffalo River, Scajaquada Creek, Cazenovia Creek and Cornelius Creek. The Buffalo Sewer Authority’s 1999 permit required it to develop a Long Term Control Plan, to manage its combined sewage. The Buffalo Sewer Authority submitted a Long Term Control Plan in 2004, which was found to be inadequate and not approved.

 

A March 9, 2012 compliance order issued by the EPA required the Buffalo Sewer Authority to submit an approvable Long Term Control Plan to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that would include sewer system improvements to ensure that combined sewer overflows complied with technology and water quality-based requirements. The legal order also required the Buffalo Sewer Authority to develop a detailed implementation schedule that would take finances into consideration while meeting water quality standards. Both the EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation encouraged the Buffalo Sewer Authority to incorporate green infrastructure projects into its plan.

On January 10, 2014, the Buffalo Sewer Authority submitted its final revised Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan to the EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for review and approval. The plan was approved on March 18, 2014. The EPA is now issuing an amended compliance order memorializing the EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s approvals of the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s Long Term Control Plan and implementation schedule with a 2034 final compliance deadline. The Buffalo Sewer Authority has already invested over $50 million in completed and ongoing construction projects under its approved Long Term Control Plan, including:

A $2.8 million pilot project to determine green infrastructure effectiveness related to rain garden/infiltration basins, pervious pavement and house downspout disconnections

$1.2 million for green street projects along Carlton Street and Fillmore Avenue to collect flows from these areas and to turn vacant land into green space

$7.5 million for demonstration projects to determine how to maximize wastewater and stormwater storage with real time control technology

$18 million to construct the Hamburg Drain Floatable Control Facility to control entry of large floating debris into the Niagara River

$8 million for a storage project at Smith Street to reduce raw sewage overflows into the

Niagara River

In addition to these projects, $93 million will be spent on green infrastructure for between 1,315 and 1,620 acres of impervious surface throughout Buffalo. Projects will include vacant property demolitions, vacant lot modifications to allow for infiltration, pervious pavements, rain gardens, downspout disconnections and rain barrels. The Buffalo Sewer Authority will also invest $41 million in upgrades at its Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Plant to increase the treatment capacity for sewage and stormwater run-off and to ensure that all discharges receive adequate disinfection. Other projects will increase the system’s ability to collect and transport wastewater. The Buffalo Sewer Authority estimates that total costs will be approximately $380 million over 20 years.

“Sustainability”

imagesCAJURKCUSustainability is a catch phrase used by laymen and experts in several fields.  The word sustainability by original definition meant the ability to sustain, or the potential to keep things the same way.  Now, people in all areas have made their own definition of sustainability to the point where the true definition has been lost.  Perhaps this isn’t on accident; as the thermodynamic principle of entropy states, entropy is forever increasing, which states that things cannot stay the same.  Therefore true “sustainability” is not possible, in any field, for any area.  It is impossible.

That being said, the term “sustainability” for my purposes in environmental engineering represents the ideas and efforts made to preserve a natural system, or even better, to minimally disrupt a system despite inevitable changes to the respective environment; including increasing population, urbanization, temperature and energy changes.  Though “sustainability” has become the buzz-word of environmental discussions world-wide, I respectfully recommend the use of  “Low Impact Design” as an alternative.  I know, three words to replace one isn’t ideal, however, those three words do have one less syllable, so to me, it’s justified.