Sustainable Landscape Architecture

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I recently visited the Queens Botanical Garden in New York and thought they did a great job creating visually appealing sites to educate all who tour the gardens.  The intent is to teach others to be stewards of the environment by integrating sustainable elements into the landscape.

Some of the impressive features include:  a green roof that visitors can walk upon atop the LEED platinum visitor center, bioswales and constructed wetlands, a gray water system and the fountain & water course (pictured above) which capture rain water that birds love to flutter about in.  Even the parking lot is sustainable!

Here are the details of these earth-friendly features:

  • GREEN ROOFS, “also known as vegetated or planted roofs, provide habitat for plants, insects, and birds.  They also supply added insulation and roof protection and reduce the rooftop air temperature during summer.”
  • LEED platinum Visitor & Administration Center uses “82% less water than a conventional building of the same size.  It has solar panels that generate 17% of the building’s electricity and an energy efficient geothermal heating & cooling system.  The building is clad in cedar siding certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).”
  • BIOSWALES are low-lying areas that collect and retain rainwater runoff from surrounding areas where it is absorbed by plants and infiltrates back into the water table.  Bioswales help prevent the overflowing of combined stormwater/sewer systems, therefore reducing the polluting of our waterways.  Outdated combined wastewater systems are common in many cities.
  • THE CONSTRUCTED WETLAND highlights native wetland plants that once existed throughout the region and provides habitat for birds and beneficial insects.  It also serves as part of the visitor center’s graywater system:  “First, the building’s graywater (from sinks and dishwasher) is piped out of the building to underground settling tanks, which allows larger debris to sink out of the water. Then it goes to the Constructed Wetland, where it is slowly released below ground. As the water seeps through layers of gravel and soil, contaminants are filtered out. Once it reaches the root zones of the wetland plants, organic nutrients, metals, and other contaminants are naturally treated and absorbed. This is possible because of the thriving microbial environment that exists around the roots of wetlands plants, which pull oxygen from the air into the root zone.  Once it has moved through the Constructed Wetland, the cleansed water is collected and then piped back into the Visitor & Administration Building, where it is used to flush toilets.  It saves up to 4,000 gallons of water a week!”
  • THE PARKING LOT features permeable paving and a bioswale between parking aisles to help manage stormwater runoff and reduce the urban heat island effect.

Learn more about sustainable landscape architecture from the Queens Botanical Garden.

photo courtesy of Antioch

Tag(s): Green Design, Green Travel, The Great Green Outdoors

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