Sustainable Business Network

2015-2016 Excellence in GSI Award Winners

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On March 31st, 2016 we brought together leaders in region’s GSI industry, including design professionals ad contractors, developers and property owners, municipal employees, and elected officials for the Inaugural Excellence in GSI Awards Ceremony. This event celebrated GSI projects in the Greater Philadelphia Area, the triple bottom line (TBL) benefits of GSI, and the many partners who make these projects successful. Congratulations to our winners!

Public Project Winner: LEA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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Location: Philadelphia, PA
Client: West Philly Coalition of Neighborhood Schools (WPCNS), School District of Philadelphia (SDP)
Planning/Design Team: SALT Design Studio, Meliora Design,  International Consultants, Inc.
Construction Team: ThinkGreen, LLC
Maintenance Team: SDP and WPCNS
Monitoring Team: Philadelphia Water

Renovations to LEA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, the recipient of a PWD SMIP grant, concentrated on capturing and infiltrating stormwater, increasing tree canopy, and establishing a strong identity for Lea through a revitalized landscape. SALT’s cost-effective design manages stormwater from the both the school yard and the public right of way, and, through a series of multi-purpose interventions, maximizes opportunities for both students and teachers for play and education. 3000 perennials, 35 shrubs, and 19 trees transform a predominantly paved school yard into a dynamically performing landscape with 4-season appeal, habitat, and low-maintenance needs.   5500 sq. ft. of porous pavers further disconnect the school yard. Parents, students, school staff, and neighbors were engaged throughout the design process through a variety of forums.  Planting days, as well as future maintenance events, continue to engage the neighborhood and school community in greening efforts. Partnerships developed throughout the course of this project engage community members, and encourage long-term community investment in the future of the school, making the project a model for holistic planning and long-term stewardship of public schoolyards.
View the other Public Project finalists.


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Location: Avondale, PA
Client: Stroud Water Research Center
Planning/Design Team: Andropogon Associates, BioHabitats, Bruce E. Brooks & Associates, Meliora Design, M2 Architecture
Construction Team: Nason Construction, ThinkGreen, LLC
Monitoring Team: Stroud Water Research Center

The Stroud Water Research Center, one of the premier freshwater research institutions in the world, also supports a robust environmental education program. As such, Stroud recently expanded their campus to include the Moorhead Environmental Complex, a new LEED Platinum educational facility. Given the focus of the Center, design goals were to “get the water right.” The stormwater BMPs were constructed as a connected system. Rain gardens overflow to an infiltration trench that overflows to additional rain gardens and is eventually dispersed to a restored meadow and woodland. Overflow from the green roof as well as from the standard roof discharges to cisterns for re-use. Paths are constructed of porous pavers. These and other systems create a living classroom for the region’s students and professionals, as well as county and state employees. The Moorhead Environmental Complex building and surrounding site work together to meet intended integrated regenerative water goals, mitigate previous flooding and erosion issues, create research and educational opportunities, and provide passive and active outdoor gathering space.
View the other Private Project finalists.

Early Adopter Winner: MORRIS ARBORETUM

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Location: 9600 Stenton Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Client: Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania
Planning/Design Team: Andropogon Associates, Cahill Associates
Maintenance Team: Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania

Constructed in 1987, the Morris Arboretum Demonstration Porous Parking Lot is one of the earliest and longest-lasting porous asphalt installations in the world, serving as a model and educational tool for visitors from around the world. Porous asphalt had been studied at the Franklin Institute in the late 1970s; the design of the porous lot at Morris was informed by the Franklin Institute research. Until a few years ago, the system never discharged, even in hurricane level events, capturing and infiltrating all direct rainfall on the parking lot.  In 2015, due to some surface erosion to the pavement, the porous pavement was successfully replaced above the existing stormwater bed. The subsurface system was found to still be fully functioning, and so was left in place. The lot has won awards for engineering and design, been featured in national publications and regional educational videos, is frequently visited by school students, university classes, engineer, architects and landscape architects, and enjoyed by almost two million visitors. In addition to the porous parking lot, the Arboretum has, for the past thirty years, instituted practices of disconnecting or managing impervious surfaces whenever possible, including buildings, roadways, and paths.  Currently, the Arboretum manages 99% of its 5.4 acres of impervious area.
View the other Early Adopter finalists. 

Research Winner: 
The Impact of GSI Installation on the Surrounding Health and Safety

This study investigated the health and safety effects of urban green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects. The research team conducted a difference-in-differences analysis of the effects of GSI on health (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels) and safety (e.g., felonies, nuisance and property crimes, narcotics crimes) outcomes from 2000 to 2012 in Philadelphia. The team used mixed-effects regression models to compare differences in 52 sites pre- and post-GSI installment, and 186 randomly chosen, matched control sites.  Results show consistent and statistically significant reductions in narcotics possession (18%–27% less) within 16th-mile, 8th-mile, quarter-mile, and half-mile distances from the GSI sites.  Narcotics manufacture and burglaries were also significantly reduced at multiple scales. This is the first longitudinal case-control study of the health and safety effects of green stormwater infrastructure projects to be published.  Health and safety and other social considerations should be included in future assessments of GSI programs, and subsequent research should continue to assess these impacts.

Lead Research Institution: USDA Forest Service, Northern Field Station
Collaborating Research Institutions: University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Research Team: Michelle Kondo, Ph.D. Charles Branas, Ph.D. Jason Henning, Ph.D. Sarah Low, MS
Study Area: Philadelphia
View the other Research finalists.

Leadership Winner: Howard Neukrug

HOWARD NEUKRUG is a visionary in sustainable water management, spearheading the green stormwater infrastructure movement within Philadelphia, and leading the City to become the national model for green stormwater management that it is today. Howard began his work with Philadelphia Water in 1978, and rose through the ranks to become Water Commissioner in 2011. From the creation of the Office of Watersheds in 1999, to the implementation of Green City, Clean Waters in 2011, Neukrug has championed GSI as a way to solve to the city’s combined sewage overflow problem and clean up rivers and streams while beautifying neighborhoods, improving quality of life for residents, and strengthening our local economy. Green City, Clean Waters continues to be one of the most comprehensively green approaches to long-term combined sewer overflow control in existence, and Philadelphia has undergone a massive transformation as a result.  Through partnerships with other city agencies, including Parks, Streets, Public Property, Planning, and the School District, as well as numerous non-profits, GSI investments have leveraged millions in grant funding for transportation projects, park improvements, and neighborhood revitalization.  New development is more sustainable and the local economy is growing. Howard’s vision has turned stormwater infrastructure into a “triple bottom line” investment: our communities are improved, our local green economy is bolstered, and our urban environment is more sustainable.