Archive for the ‘Sustainable Development’ Category

Rain Gardens in a Fairfield, Iowa Gas Station

“Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink,” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Aging and outdated infrastructure is threatening the way we live.

The American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card on America’s Infrastructure grades America’s water infrastructure a “D-,” the lowest grade in any infrastructure category. The next lowest grade, “F” failure, is simply unacceptable.

Rain Garden at a Kum & Go Gas Station, Fairfield, Iowa

Rain Garden at a Kum & Go Gas Station, Fairfield, Iowa

In many communities our storm water system is combined with our sewer system. Rainwater is treated like sewer water. However, when as little as a quarter of an inch of rainfalls, our storm water system is overwhelmed and untreated sewer water is dumped into our local waterways. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers urban water runoff the greatest threat to our nation’s waters

The largest source of storm water comes from rooftops and parking lots. As human development occurs we interrupt the natural water cycle. In a natural environment, ninety-eight percent of the storm water that falls in an area stays on the area. The leaves of the trees that cover the property as the rain falls, slows the rain down. The soil, which is not compacted, captures the majority of the rainfall. Only two to three percent of the rain that falls on an area runs off. The speed of the water runoff is significantly slower because of the plants covering the area.

Rain Gardens are vegetated areas, lower in elevation than the surrounding area. The soil is engineered so that it allows rainwater to be percolated through a series of soil and gravel layers. Rain gardens serve two purposes. First, the rain garden captures and detains storm water. Second, the rain garden filters the storm water, thus reducing storm water runoff and pollution.

Rain gardens are located in an area as close as possible to the rooftops and parking lots that produce the storm water runoff. Native plants are usually used for vegetation because native plants are more adaptable to the local climate and do not require as much maintenance as turf or other plant materials. The plants in a rain garden maintain the soil’s permeability and assists in filtering the storm water.

The good news is that this natural, simple, common sense approach is less expensive to implement than conventional solutions. Green infrastructure uses natural processes to mimic nature for managing storm water. In technical terms, biomimicry, or copying nature, utilizes the same processes and systems found in a natural environment, before land development.

In the past we tried to conquer nature. Today we are trying to live with nature but the future is in learning to be a part of nature.

Note: This article originally appeared in The Fairfield Weekly Reader

Infographic – America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Here is a cool info graphic from CarInsurance.org highlighting the current use age and state of America’s Infrastructure.

PLEASE PROVIDE ATTRIBUTION TO CARINSURANCE.ORG WITH THIS CONTENT America's Crumbling Infrastructure

Green Water Infrastructure Founder to Serve on the Indy Rezone Steering Committee

Indy Rezone LogoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Editorial Contact:
Tom Barrett, CEO
Green Water Infrastructure, Inc.
P.O. Box 124
Westfield, IN 46074
317-674-3GWI (3494)
Tom Barrett, owner and founder of Green Water Infrastructure, Inc., has been selected to serve on the steering committee for Indy Rezone.
Indy Rezone is an Indianapolis based government agency that plans to update the ordinances, regulations and design practices to be more sustainable and to improve Indianapolis residents’ quality of life by providing the foundation for redevelopment into vibrant communities. Recommended by Jesse Kharbanda, the Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana’s largest environmental policy organization, Tom has agreed to represent the HEC  and the people of Indianapolis in this position.
“I’m honored to be recommended for this position,” Tom said in a recent interview. “Indianapolis has a tremendous potential to be a pioneer in green infrastructure done right.  What we need now is two-fold: to get the government and the people of Indianapolis on the same page with what works and what doesn’t work, then we need to combine efforts to make that happen in a safe, efficient, and responsible way.”
Mr. Barrett began Green Water Infrastructure, Inc. in 2009 in response to what he saw as a great need to marry green and gray infrastructure, creating more efficient and sustainable solutions to an ever growing problem.
With over thirty years of successful landscape industry experience, Tom Barrett has held leadership positions at industry leading companies that include: Rain Bird, Kenney Machinery, Ewing, Netafim, and MacAllister Machinery. Some of Tom’s projects can be seen at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, the Gates residence in Seattle, and Aqualand — the largest inclined green roof in the country. He has won awards in quality and process improvement, and is a frequent contributor of articles for numerous publications.
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What is Green Infrastructure?

What is Green Infrastructure?
Green infrastructure uses natural processes to mimic nature for managing storm water. In technical terms, biomimicry, or copying nature, utilizes the same processes and systems found in a natural environment, before land development. These systems and processes are employed to solve stormwater issues.
Simply put, as buildings and structures were developed and constructed, the naturally occurring systems to handle stormwater were disturbed. These disturbances led to an increase in stormwater runoff. Roads were built, homes were built, and the soil was compacted by construction equipment. These disturbances led to a significant increase in impermeable surfaces or, in other words, surfaces that did not allow water to percolate through to the soil. The result – both the volume and the peak flow of storm water increased. The increase in stormwater runoff is significant. While this method of construction and stormwater management was conventional forty years ago, we are now seeing some of the pitfalls of this approach.
In a natural environment, prior to development, ninety-eight percent of the stormwater that fell on any given property stayed on the property. The leaves of the trees that covered the property as the rain fell, initially slowed the rain down. The soil, which was permeable and not compacted, captured the majority of the rainfall. Only two to three percent of the rain that fell on a certain area ran off across the surface area. The velocity of the water runoff was significantly slower because of the vegetation covering that area.
Natural Water Cycle Image
The problems created by the increasing velocity and flow of storm water has resulted in a significant number of problems. Stream banks are eroding and threatening to undermine building foundations. In some cases expensive shoring has been installed to prevent the loss of property. In many areas, subterranean HVAC ductwork on some properties is collecting water resulting in mold and mildew. Subsurface water is surfacing on roadways resulting in flooding. In freezing conditions, icy roads and walkways create safety issues.
Why Green Infrastructure?
Green infrastructure is the latest and most effective development in land use planning. Many businesses and communities would like to utilize the best stormwater management practices available. Green infrastructure was developed in the United States in the mid 1990’s as a means to address a growing concern about the increasingly severe problems associated with stormwater issues. Stormwater, or non-point source water, is the largest source of water pollution in America. The conventional technology used fifty years ago to handle stormwater was to rapidly collect it and pipe it away via engineered collection systems. As noted earlier, the conventional technology of fifty years ago has created serious issues and is no longer an effective means to stormwater solutions. Traditional infrastructure has been refined. Green infrastructure employs the most advanced methods and techniques for managing stormwater.
Rain Running Off a RoofWhat are the Elements of Green Infrastructure?
The elements of green infrastructure utilize soil and plants, or vegetation, to manage stormwater. Additionally, in developing a green infrastructure approach we examine the stormwater production as far upstream, as close to the source of the stormwater production, as possible.
There are two recommended primary elements:
  1. Downspout Disconnections or Extensions
  2. Rain Gardens and Bioswales
Downspout Disconnections or Extensions
The largest source of stormwater runoff occurs from rain falling on rooftops. Many rooftops currently have a stormwater collection system installed complete with gutters and downspouts. However, in some cases the downspouts drain into pipes that surface on a downgrade and the stormwater flows onto adjoining condominium areas. In other cases, the downspout outflows are not piped anywhere. They simply drain out onto the surface of the property. Finally, some downspout outflows are directed onto roadways and driveways.
[Insert roof runoff here
Downspout disconnections and extensions require directing the stormwater from the downspouts into a permeable area, such as a rain garden or bioswale, as close to the source as possible. The storm water is not directed onto another impermeable surface like a roadway or driveway, as is the situation often seen today.
Downspout disconnections and extensions are the simplest and least expensive way to mitigate the stormwater issues quickly. Additionally, this benefits the environment because it helps to restore the natural water cycle.
Rain Gardens and Bioswales
Rain Gardens and bioswales are vegetated areas, lower in elevation than the surrounding area, with engineered soil that allows rainwater to be percolated through a series of soil and gravel layers. The purpose of a rain garden or bioswale is two fold. First, the rain garden or bioswale captures and detains storm water. Second, the rain garden or bioswale filters the storm water, thus reducing stormwater runoff and pollution.
Rain gardens and bioswales are located in an area as close as possible near the structure that produce the stormwater runoff. Native plants are usually used for vegetation because native plants are more adaptable to the local climate and do not require as much maintenance as turf or other plant materials. The vegetation in a rain garden or bioswale maintains the soil’s permeability and assists in filtering the storm water.
Rain garden and bioswales  should be designed and engineered to capture one hundred percent of a one-inch rainfall. Ideally, the one-inch rainfall event will be retained for at least eighteen hours but not more than seventy-two hours.
Conclusions
Embarking on a multi-year project that aims to reduce and eliminate many of the stormwater issues experienced since development  while restoring the natural water cycle is one that takes informative, collaborative effort. This kind of forward thinking, integrated, and long-range planning approach will combine the existing traditional infrastructure with newer techniques in green infrastructure. The result will be a sustainable approach to stormwater mitigation that will be effective, resilient and less expensive in the long-term, than conventional stormwater management. Additionally, green infrastructure is more than just mitigating stormwater. The solutions recommended will have a positive, long lasting impact on the environment.
Rain Garden

Windridge Condominium Ravine Stormwater Study

In January of 2012, the Windridge Condominium Board of Directors commissioned Fischer Design LLC to conduct a comprehensive stormwater study. This a presentation of the findings and possible green infrastructure solutions.

The presentation to  Windridge Condominium Board of Directors and interested homeowners on the Ravine Stormwater Presentation went extremely well last night.

The highlights of the presentation are:

  • There is a lot of water falling in a one inch rainfall event. The largest stormwater basin is almost sixty acres and receives over 1.6 million gallons of water in a one inch rain. This is the equivalent of allowing your kitchen sink to run fully open 24 four hours a day for 225 days continuously.
  • Going upstream to fix the stormwater issue will provide the greatest return in mitigating the current stormwater issues.
  • The majority of the stormwater problems experienced by the Windridge property owners is coming from the adjacent properties. Developing a cooperative plan with the adjacent property owners will have a large impact on the Windridge ravine erosion issue.

Here is a copy of the presentation:

 

Rainwater Harvesting & Condensate Recovery Presentation at the Chicago Center for Green Technology

Rain IN the Street ImageChicago Center for Green Technology Presentation

Chicago, Illinois

March 1, 2012

Rainwater Harvesting and Condensate Recovery are two tools used in implementing sustainable water practices. Although not widely used in the United States, rainwater harvesting is used extensively in less developed parts of the world. Mistakenly, the primary benefit of rainwater harvesting is not the extensive water savings that can be achieved. The primary benefit from rainwater harvesting is to reduce the untreated sewer discharge into our local waterways that occurs with almost every rainfall.

In the presentation, Barrett will discuss how rainwater harvesting and condensate recovery not only reduces potable water usage but protects, restores, and mimics the natural water cycle.

Additionally, Tom will explain how rainwater harvest can help develop a natural solution for water efficiency, and relieve storm water management issues. By developing a rainwater harvesting systom or other environmentally responsible landscape solution, we can reduce the contaminants that collect in the sewer systems, and make a significant improvement for a cleaner and healthier environment.

“The American Society for Civil Engineers gave the United States’ water systems a grade of ‘D-,’ the lowest of any America infrastructure,” said Barrett. “Through increased use of rain gardens and bioswales, we can improve our water systems and create a better environment for plants, animals and people. “In his presentation, Barrett will explain just how essential some of these tools are to efficiently utilizing and managing water sources.

Here is the presentation from March 1, 2012. Below are the two movies.

Rainwater Harvesting & Condensate Recovery (Chicago 3.1.12)

View more presentations from Tom Barrett

How to Build a Rainwater Collection System from VideoJug

 

Video – A 30,000 Gallon Cistern Installation in Four Minutes

It seems everyone enjoyed the presentation and comments from the participants were great! With thirty-seven participants, it is rewarding to see interest in rainwater harvesting gaining momentum.

Here are some comments:

I really enjoyed the videos, especially making the rain barrel.

– Sheri Yarbrough

 

I get more than enough rain to water my garden and I flush my toilet. Cisterns are awesome!  Condensation should be used.

– Monica Skyora

 

Austrailia is producing some good water saving solutions. I likes the video on installing barrels; drip irrigation is 90% efficient

– Donna McGuire

I am looking forward to my next presentation at the Chicago Center for Green Technology during the summer.

Sustainable Site Development – Rain Water Harvesting Presentation In Chicago March 1, 2012

New Tools for Sustainable Site Development

Rain Water Harvesting and Condensate Recovery

Presentation by Tom Barrett

WHEN:

Thursday, March 1, 2012 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE:

The Chicago Center for Green Technology

445 N. Sacramento Blvd
(between Chicago Ave. and Lake St.)

Chicago, Illinois

COST: FREE

AIS Continuing Eduction Units: 2

“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated our nation’s wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water systems a “D” minus. This is the lowest grade in any infrastructure category. The most alarming conclusion is the next lowest grade is “F” – FAILURE. Over the last fifty years America has not invested in new practices and technologies which can enhance our infrastructure and our environment. Rainwater harvesting and condensate recovery are transformative approaches to sustainable site development.

“The over-borrowing, over-consuming, and under-innovation (is) now in the US. . .,” Antonio van Aqtmael said in an October 2007 issue of Newsweek. As engineering solutions to water management that protects, restores, and mimics the natural water cycle. Rainwater harvesting and condensate recovery incorporates both the natural environment and engineered systems to provide clean water, conserve ecosystems, and provide a wide variety of benefits for people and wildlife. Additionally, all this can be accomplished at a significantly lower cost than conventional concrete and mortar infrastructure.

Join Tom Barrett as he explains how the use of locally produced water helps develop a “natural approach” to efficient use of water and relieves stormwater management issues.

WHAT OTHER SAID ABOUT THIS PRESENTATION

“. . . best class at CCGT so far, rainwater data, new ideas, charts and stats, all the different ways I can use the rainwater for my home.”
” . . . great speaker, the positive outlook, no blame game, examples (drip system), knowledgeable, class got to participate.

Speaker’s Biography – Tom Barrett

Tom Barrett is an accomplished corporate growth and change agent with over thirty years of industry experience. Tom’s leadership experience, holding executive level positions, drives corporate revenue growth through change and innovation for business start-ups, corporate expansions, and divisional turnarounds.

Tom Barrett has been delivering energetic, dynamic presentations and training for over twenty years. These presentations empower people to become masters of change rather than victims of circumstance by developing tools for transformational thinking.

“Tom’s been a leader with smart water technologies, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and other emerging technologies well before they became buzzwords at water conferences. It’s impressive to work with Tom because he knows his stuff from the ground up.”

Jeff Carowitz, Strategic Force Marketing

 

 

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Putting Green to Work by American Rivers

Economic Recovery Investments for Clean and Reliable WaterPutting Green to Work by American Rivers

As many of you who have heard me speak, you know my passion for developing sustainable, environmentally friendly solutions to our nation’s water infrastructure. Stormwater from rainfall events are the biggest source of pollution in America. The civil engineers call it non-point source pollution.

In 2006, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded our nation’s water infrastructure D-. The lowest grade of all the infrastructure categories examined. Although this grade is unacceptably low, the next  lowest grade is F – Failure. An “F” is simply unacceptable. Without access to clean, sanitary water supplies people perish. Click here to see the 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.

American Rivers, funded by the Park Foundation, the Kresege Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, Keith Campbel Foundation, and the Turner Foundation, has created report which examines the efforts of nineteen states with “bright green” projects. Here are some key findings:

  • The demand for funding is far, far greater than currently provided on both the Federal and state level.
  • Future funding should be targeted to “bright green” projects. “Bright green” project types includes:
    • Bioswales
    • Green Roofs
    • Permeable Paving
    • Rain Gardens
    • Riparian Habitate Resotoration
    • Wetlands Restoration
  • States must act quickly to remove barriers, eg. statutes, regulation, and policies, that are roadblocks to integrated approaches to our communities’ implementation of infrastructure improvements.
  • An integrated approach is necessary to understand the complete benefit of green infrastructure.

For me, the most important elements are the job creation and economic output.

A $10 billion investment in water efficient projects would produce a total economic output of $25-28 billion and create 150,000 to 220,000 jobs.

For every dollar invested the return is $2.65. It doesn’t take a financial wizard to understand this concept. Investing in green infrastructure is good for the economy, the environment and the communities in which we live.

There is a tremendous opportunity to combine our existing gray infrastructure with newer green infrastructure creating sustainable communities.

Click here to download the report, “Putting Green to Work.”

 

 

 

 

Brave New World: Trends & Opportunities in the Emerging Green Environment

 

Recently, I spoke to the Independent Turf and Ornamental Distributors Association in Nashville, Tennessee

I created two presentations for this group of landscape industry professionals.

 

Brave New World: Trends & Opportunities in the Emerging Green Environment(ITODA)

 

Over the last two and half years we have experienced some of the greatest changes in the history of this country. The economy is only part of it. Every organization has the power and the talent when unleashed will create dramatic change. Here are the key points:
  • Excess Capacity: Competition is increasing and margins are shrinking
  • The Impact of Local Businesses on the Economy
  • The EPA: Friend or Foe
  • The Impact of Downsizing on Employee Engagement
  • The Dramatically Increasing Presence of Women in Work
  • Transforming Your Business by Creating Value

View more presentations from Tom Barrett.
The current state and trends of the Landscape, golf Course, and Sports Turf Industry. How we stand out, where we rank, and how we are heard. You will be challenged in this provocative and sometimes controversial presentation to do things differently.  Tom Barrett is a national speaker and author. His presentations empower people to become masters of change. Learn how to grow your business without busting the bank. Here are the key points:

  • Business is rapidly changing
  • Opportunities exist in areas unavailable five years ago
  • Customers have different needs and require a new approach
  • Companies investing in marketing are growing

View more presentations from Tom Barrett.

I feel the presentations were incredibly helpful to the folks in the audience. Based on conversations I had with audience members, some of the points they found most interesting were:

  • The dramatically changing social environment, especially women in the workforce.
  • Getting sales people to make more sales calls.
  • Emerging opportunities in green infrastructure and the role landscaping will play in remediating our environment.

I truly enjoyed speaking for an energetic and enthusiastic crowd at Independent Turf and Ornamental Distributors Association. I hope I can return soon, and I look forward to my next speaking engagement on January 12, 2012 at the Green Industry Expo in Indianapolis. I will be leading a panel of experts on landscape industry trends.

Sustainable Site Development : Rain Gardens & Bioswales Presentation at the Center For Green Technology

The Rain Garden at Chicago Center for Green Technology, Chicago, Illinios

I had the pleasure of presenting “Constructing Rain Gardens & Bioswales” at the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT) on Thursday, September 29th. The audience, between 30 to 40 people, was great.

We talked about stormwater issues and toured the rain garden at the Chicago Center for Green Technology. Steve Pincuspy, Director of CCGT, led the tour and did an excellent job of explaining the effectiveness of the rain gardens in mitigating the local stormwater problem.

The presentation was followed by over thirty minutes of questions.

Here is a copy of the presentation: