Conventional site development patterns often include the clearing and leveling of entire parcels of land, and construction of wide, paved roads, parking lots and roof tops. The creation of hardened surfaces and other structures that alter the natural movement of water all contribute to degraded rivers and streams and create the need to collect, convey, and pipe away stormwater runoff. These conventional site development practices also eliminate vegetation, prevent water from infiltrating into the ground to replenish groundwater supplies, and contribute to a loss of natural resources and habitats.
Low impact development (LID) is an alternative way of developing land and managing stormwater aimed at conserving natural areas and drainage patterns. The overall goal of LID is to design with nature in mind; to work with the natural landscape, hydrology and unique features of a site to avoid unnecessary water pollution, environmental degradation, and flooding. LID accomplishes this by controlling runoff close to the point of generation and retaining more water on the site where it falls, rather than funneling it into pipes that drain into local waterways.
LID employs principles such as reducing pavement widths, minimizing impervious surfaces, and creating site drainage methods that treat stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product. LID design techniques can include green roofs, rain barrels, rain gardens, grassed swales, stormwater infiltration systems, alternative landscaping, permeable pavements, and bioretention. Through these techniques, the level of impervious cover is reduced, which, in turn reduces stormwater quantity while improving stormwater quality, conserves natural drainage pathways, preserves open space, and significantly reduces the overall impact from development.
BVH has implemented low impact development techniques on several projects.
BVH is performing civil, site utilities, structural, MEP/FP and technology design on this fast-track, bio-medical research institute. When complete, this 173,000-SF building will house 300 biomedical researchers, technicians and support staff in advanced computing facilities and laboratories. The project is under construction on a 17-acre site near the University of Connecticut Health Center campus, and is expected to open at the end of 2014. Focusing on sustainable design measures such as energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality, and LID techniques including rainwater harvesting and bioswales, BVH designed the new lab in collaboration with Centerbrook Architects and Tsoi/Kobus & Associates.
Storrs Hall is located in the Roberts Brook watershed with its primary drainage systems discharging to Swan Lake. BVH utilized Low Impact Development strategies in the form of green roofs and pervious pavement for both stormwater quality and management. Through these techniques, BVH reduced pollutant loading to Swan Lake while maintaining pre-development runoff rates and volumes. BVH also coordinated with the University’s Office of Environmental Policy the submission of the Department of Environmental Protection “Flood Management Certificate,” illustrating compliance with the University’s current stormwater master plan. Storrs Hall opened in August 2012.
UMass Boston, Utility Corridor & Roadway Project – Boston, MA
BVH is designing a new utility corridor and roadway network to support the implementation of UMass Boston’s 25-Year Master Plan. The project is reconfiguring the campus roadway system to accommodate two-way traffic around the campus and encourage better circulation of buses, trucks, emergency vehicles and cars. Working with consultant Nitsch Engineering, the BVH Team evaluated the campus’s current drainage system and assessed LID alternatives to improve stormwater management and quality. As part of the project, the new roadway cross-section will be reduced, decreasing the amount of stormwater runoff. Currently, stormwater is collected and piped to several different outlets into the adjacent cove. When complete, the stormwater will be dispersed into water quality swales along the roadway edges making its way toward bioretention areas prior to discharge to the cove outlets. The introduction of roadside water quality swales and bioretention areas will increase groundwater infiltration, reduce water quantity to the cove, and improve the quality of water discharge that does continue to the cove.
By implementing LID principles and practices, water can be managed in a way that reduces the impact of built areas and promotes the natural movement of water within an ecosystem or watershed. BVH Integrated Services is committed to delivering exceptional design solutions for cutting-edge facilities through low-impact development techniques.