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Applying Sustainable Principles to Stormwater Design

For more information, contact Lesley Brooks.

Sustainable Design Principles
Specifically related to stormwater, a sustainable project can be defined as a project that provides a balanced benefit to the community and the environment while being economically feasible in the present and future. A sustainable stormwater management project strives to provide recreational opportunity, habitat creation/preservation, flood control, water quality improvement, and long term maintenance plans with adequate funding and staffing.

Implementation in Design
Sustainable stormwater design principles may be applied to most types of municipal projects, including utility, transportation, facilities and park development projects. Typically, a sustainable project will serve multiple purposes. Some examples of these types of projects include: 

Integration of Bioretention Basins into Site, Roadway, and Trail Designs: Minimizes the use of pipe systems to enhance aesthetics, serve as traffic calming measures, provide educational opportunities, and improve water quality.

Retrofitting Existing Drainage Systems for Existing Buildings: Disconnects downspouts and collects roof drainage for irrigation purposes and to reduce concentrated runoff.

Water Quality Master Planning: Identifies opportunities throughout a watershed and introduces well-suited best management practices that will ultimately improve the water quality but also provide quality of life improvement and potentially increased land value.

Real Life Example: Sustainable Design at Dallas’ Elm Fork Athletic Complex
Freese and Nichols completed the master plan in 2007 and design for the City of Dallas’ Elm Fork Athletic Complex (rendering shown above). The general theme of the overall complex design focuses on conserving natural resources. Phase I design incorporates multiple sustainable design concepts, including: design of bioswales, rain water harvesting systems and bioretention basins. These stormwater controls, among others, were tailored to maximize benefits in a constrained environment where underground infrastructure is not as feasible.

The project also included a reclaimed water study to determine the feasibility of providing reuse water to the site from future scalping plant locations and existing reuse water supply sources. The design included multiple green roof systems, energy efficient lighting systems, and potential solar power generation. Interpretive signage throughout the site will provide opportunities to promote and educate park users about the City’s sustainability initiatives.

Resources for Sustainable Design

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