On Thursday, May 17, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia hosted the The Excellence in GSI Awards Ceremony, the region’s only award that celebrates and elevates green stormwater infrastructure projects and innovations, the triple bottom line (TBL) benefits of a nature-based approach to stormwater management, and the partners who bring these projects to life in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

 

SBN’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Partners, VIPs and influential industry leaders convened to celebrate excellence in GSI in the following categories: Public Projects, Private Projects, and Innovation. We were excited to welcome our keynote speaker for the event, Marc Cammarata, P.E., Deputy Water Commissioner for Planning, Philadelphia Water Department.

 

SBN was proud to recognize all of our finalists (click here to view) and is thrilled to announce the winners!

 

In the category of Public Projects: Linwood Park

 

Address: Linwood and Athens Avenue, Ardmore, PA

Planning/Design Team: Salt Design Studio, Studio Gaea, Yerkes Associates

Client: Township of Lower Merion

Construction/Maintenance: Puhl’s Landscaping, Inc., Lower Merion Township, Friends of Linwood Park

 

Home to beautifully scaled residential streets, an ethnically diverse population, and blocks of historic buildings, Ardmore surprisingly lacked sufficient public green space. As a result of persuasive and collaborative efforts between a dedicated group of neighbors and the township, Ardmore was awarded an Open Space Grant from Montgomery County in 2009. This was used to purchase the one-acre private parking lot at Linwood & Athens Avenue, and transform it into a public park.

 

A community-driven process yielded a design to reconnect the site with its former hydrology, topography, and habitats, while simultaneously making a place that cultivates play as a more naturalistic experience. Using water as a driving force for design, the park features two meandering dry streams and a bold, mounding landform that articulates and directs stormwater runoff.

 

The highly collaborative nature of this project, allowed the Design Team to identify relevant public institutions and organizations – including Lower Merion Conservancy, Belmont Hills Elementary and Household of Faith Church – as partners for fundraising, community outreach and educational campaigns. With the assistance of the Township and other partner organizations, the neighbors established a “Friends of Linwood Park” group, registered as a 501(c)(3) organization to ensure future funds for future park management.

 

What once was an impervious, barren site is now the green, social nexus of the neighborhood:

 

Linwood Park is a lively community center, theatrical venue, outdoor classroom, and versatile recreational setting.

 


 

In the category of Private Projects: College Settlement

 

Planning/Design Team: MRN Environmental, Inc., Wetlands & Ecology, Inc.

Client: Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust

Construction/Maintenance/Monitoring: Berg Construction, LLC, Enviroscapes, Inc., Wetlands & Ecology, Inc., Villanova University

 

The College Settlement in Horsham, PA provides camp experiences that help young people develop a lifelong appreciation and respect for the environment, each other, and themselves. As such, it is fitting that leadership at the camp would issue a call for renovations when a location on its campus was identified as a site that could protect a tributary of the Pennypack Creek from untreated stormwater runoff from a nearby 1940s subdivision.

 

In addition to managing stormwater runoff, the renovations addressed erosion issues and the proliferation of non-indigenous invasive plants while creating a wetland in an area that had no wetlands. The GSI has reduced the uncontrolled stormwater runoff flows to downstream areas, allowing the channels to heal and more water to infiltrate.

 

The planning and design team, made up of individuals from MRNenvironmental, Inc., and Wetlands & Ecology, Inc. initiated a diverse plant community that provides campers and students the opportunity to see and experience a habitat and flora that do not exist anywhere else on the grounds.

 

The site will serve as an educational tool for not only the students and campers. Horsham Township and Upper Moreland Township (both provided funding for the project) intend to use this renovation to teach constituents about the benefits of nature-based solutions to stormwater management. This project demonstrates the kind of win-win outcomes that result from inventive public-private partnerships.


 

In the category of Innovation, SBN recognized two winners: Cira Green and Parcel Viewer

 

Cira Green

 

Primary: Roofmeadow

Client: Brandywine Realty Trust

Partners: Erdy McHenry Architecture, Hunter Roberts Construction Group, Sean’s Landscaping, Inc., EDA Contractors, Inc., Roofmeadow Services, Inc.

 

As Philadelphia’s first elevated public park and first blue-green roof, Cira Green represents an evolutionary innovation in design, particularly for shallow landscapes. This project casts a vision for the region in which challenging surfaces can inspire revolutionary design solutions.

 

Its novel design optimizes the horizontal shallow hydrologies of urban spaces and typifies the kind of cutting edge design that could inspire future development of vertical neighborhoods and sites for biophilic play and community gatherings.

 

The park sits atop a parking garage originally designed to be a 3-floor semi-public facility with a subsurface stormwater cistern. Brandywine Realty Trust (BRT) and its design team conceived of a dynamic elevated amenity space that would also comply with stormwater regulations.

 

The fusion of intensive green roofs, permeable paving, and “pancake cisterns” results in a hydrologically integrated site that provides a higher level of stormwater performance than conventional green roofs.

 

Its topography engages visitors, offering both passive and active recreational space. BRT has developed an informational tour program, which attracts designers, students, engineers, and policy-makers from around the country.

 

By artfully integrating an innovative and unobtrusive stormwater management strategy into this extensively paved, high-traffic park, BRT and the design team created a new standard for city living which leverages the roof plane for unparalleled amenity spaces that also aggressively manage stormwater.

 

Developing workable solutions for implementing GSI on shallow rooftops opens up new possibilities for vertical living and foreshadows the future of urban design.

 

Parcel Viewer

 

Primary: Azavea

Client: Philadelphia Water Department

Partners: Philadelphia Water Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

The scalable and replicable nature of Azavea’s innovative stormwater management software tools makes their use by other municipalities across the nation and beyond easily implemented, demonstrating how data and software technologies can dramatically improve the implementation, and therefore success, or stormwater management plans. The three applications assist the Philadelphia Water Department uphold a transparent billing system and the public to explore opportunities for stormwater credit opportunities and aggregated property retrofits in the region.

 

The Philadelphia Parcel Viewer application was developed to support the Philadelphia Water Department’s new non-residential stormwater billing system that relates a property’s burden on the sewer system directly to its stormwater charge by using the property’s impervious surface cover as the basis for the fee.

 

The initial version of the public web application displayed billing information and impervious surface data during the four-year phase-in, and then enabled users to appeal their bill and apply for credits when they implemented BMPs. Now, several years later, a new version of the application is about to be rolled out that will provide both new data sources and new features for the public.

 

The Credits Explorer application, launched in 2015, enables the public to explore ways to reduce their stormwater costs by adding green roofs, permeable pavement, rain gardens, stormwater basins, or subsurface storage to their properties. Property owners can simply draw the extent of each potential remediation on the interactive map and their stormwater savings are calculated based on the proposed changes.

 

This year, Azavea will launch The Greened Acre Retrofit Program (GARP) Aggregator-Property Manager that will provide a similar planning canvas for contractors, companies, or project aggregators who want to apply for grant funding for large-scale stormwater retrofit projects that extend across multiple properties and total at least ten acres in project size.

 

The development of these technologies resulted from significant stakeholder engagement facilitated by both Azavea and PWD.

 

 

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners.