Using sustainable infrastructure to improve communities

Posted in: Environmental, Transportation

Creating sustainable infrastructure requires more than using eco-friendly materials. Evaluating additional infrastructure sustainability options can result in a significantly better outcome than the traditional infrastructure development. Designers must take a holistic approach to infrastructure development by using the Triple Bottom Line of sustainability to value their client’s community, use project funds effectively and contribute to sustainability of the environment.

Mead & Hunt recently used this sustainable infrastructure methodology while assisting the City of Georgetown to improve East Bay Park. The city wanted to improve the park’s infrastructure while maintaining its aesthetics and Lowcountry beauty. East Bay Park contains playgrounds, sports fields, a boat ramp and other features for visitors. The park is located within a small promontory at the confluence of multiple rivers discharging into Winyah Bay, making it the perfect spot to host events and celebrations.

The park’s natural flat landscape, low elevation, poor drainage facilities and proximity to open water resulted in continuous exposure to high-tide flooding and poor drainage conditions. The city’s priority for the area was to improve drainage in the park while improving various park features. Mead & Hunt’s goal as the design firm was to provide low-impact development techniques for the park’s infrastructure that would minimize impacts to the environment and reduce costs for stormwater management.

The design of a parking area for the boat landing used pervious concrete pavement and an underlying infiltration system. This reduced the amount of impervious area and infiltrate stormwater runoff while minimizing the space typically used for stormwater management systems. We also used low-impact drainage features to re-establish positive drainage, minimize standing water and reduce tidal influences. Putting sustainable infrastructure first allowed our team to use vegetated conveyances to provide more storage, water quality treatment and infiltration.

In addition to improving the overall aesthetics of the area, this approach dramatically reduced the need for costly closed-system drainage systems such as curbs, inlets and piping, and the amount of runoff generated from traditional paved parking areas. Many of the existing park features containing impervious surfaces were removed to restore a large green space. These changes not only reduced stormwater runoff, but the additional green space provides a new venue for city events.

Adjacent to the new parking facilities, East Bay Park also incorporated a one-mile walking trail and bathroom facilities into this green space. Each of these improvements addresses the city’s goal to improve the image of the park and upgrade its recreational facilities while maintaining the park’s natural beauty.

By listening to the client and becoming attuned to the project area’s needs, our team helped renew East Bay Park. Sustainable infrastructure is more than choosing the most eco-friendly materials. It’s about working with your client to create a completed project that fits the community’s needs, budget and environment.

Kevin Barnes, PE, LEED AP

About the Author

Kevin Barnes, PE, LEED AP, ENV-SP has nearly 25 years of project management and engineering design on public and private infrastructure. He is committed to sustainable design practices to preserve the environment and enhance local communities. Kevin implemented these practices for the historic City of Georgetown on the East Bay Park Improvements as well as the Broad Street Streetscape project.

Read more posts by Kevin Barnes, PE, LEED AP

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