Sustainable Cities™

Sustainable Sites Initiative: Canal Park

The efforts made by the U.S Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system has introduce a popular way to quantify the sustainability of commercial building. Until recently constructed landscapes have lacked a similar rating system.

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The efforts made by the U.S Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system has introduce a popular way to quantify the sustainability of commercial building. Until recently constructed landscapes have lacked a similar rating system. The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI), organized by the American Society of Landscape Architects, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the U.S. Botanic Garden, aims to define the sustainability standards associated with landscape architecture.

After 4 years and $2 million worth of research, SSI certification is ready for the spotlight. The SSI system rates the sustainability of the design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes, and is suitable for every type of constructed landscape, from suburban town halls to college campuses or urban parks. Landscapes are awarded points based on their proximity to public transportation, use of energy efficient materials, waste treatment, water use, and more. The full list of guidelines and performance benchmarks is available here (PDF).

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Pilot Project

The design and construction of Canal Park in Washington, D.C., managed by the office OLIN, is serving as one of the main pilot projects for the SSI rating system. The park, which spans three blocks, was originally built as part of the District's Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, a 30 year restoration project. The canal was paved over in the late 1870s, a common practice by most cities at this time as water systems became unsanitary and outdated. Canal Park is also a former brownfield site and has been envisioned as a revitalized landscape to reconnect and restore the ecosystem services that were initially present.

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The park will feature a wide array of amenities to make it attractive to varying users and functions. The three blocks of the park are each given individual characters that weave an interconnected urban social destination.  The park's has three main components in the stromwater reuse system that includes a 200 meter linear rain garden, Low Impact Design tree pits, and two underground cisterns connected to neighboring buildings rooftops, that store 300 liters of water.  This design is calculated to capture and treat 5.5 million liters each year that will be reused for irrigation, fountains, toilet flushing, and the ice skating path.

28 geothermal wells are located beneath the park, and will be a remarkable source of efficient energy supply. Other elements include the use of sustainably harvested wood for benches and architectural elements, electric car parking stations, bicycle parking and cross-streets designed to calm traffic speeds around the park and provide a safe shared space pedestrian environment.

It is too early to tell whether or not SSI will be as popular or commercially successful as LEED, but the two rating systems will certainly have a symbiotic relation going forward, and have the potential to evolve into a more unified, demanding, and tactile rating system.

 

Read More:

Melbourne; Perhaps the World's Best City?

Emscher Park: From Industrial to Park Landscape


 

 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013 / By George Peter Surovov

Last updated Monday, April 07, 2014

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