On our tour, we first stopped at City Hall where we met the Chief Resiliency Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer. We learned that Hoboken is in the middle of an ambitious green infrastructure plan. With dozens of parks, right-of-way swales, and stormwater detention basins already constructed, Hoboken is seeking every opportunity to turn hard surfaces into stormwater features. With a population of 50,000 and only about a square mile of land, the city sits very low on the Hudson River, with much of the city only a few feet above sea level. Acknowledging sea level rise, increasing rainfall intensity, and coastal vulnerability to future storms like Hurricane Sandy, Hoboken planners are designing all of their green infrastructure with the foresight for larger, more frequent storms with a higher sea level to protect the city in the future. City Hall is showcasing green infrastructure BMPs (Best Management Practices) through permeable pavement, rainwater harvesting cisterns, rain gardens and a green roof model.
We also visited Stevens Institute where we learned about some of the geotechnical constraints to building green infrastructure in Hoboken, such as high water table and clay soils. Stevens professors and students are studying non-infiltrating systems, like concrete-lined planters and green roof systems to maximize stormwater detention in a limited space. Students from Stevens competed in EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge in 2015 and won second place for their Master Plan for the campus. One of their proposed green infrastructure techniques was a rain garden that is currently being built out.
On October 3rd, NYC Soil & Water Conservation District took green infrastructure practitioners, city agency representatives, and advocates on a green infrastructure tour in Hoboken NJ. This year’s tour included a bike option, and we had over a dozen participants join the tour using Hoboken’s bike share program, Hudson Bike Share.
One of the most exciting stops on our tour was the Southwest Resiliency Park, which is the first of three stormwater parks that are being built to meet the neighborhood’s needs while taking on stormwater from the surrounding area. The design for the park was developed through several community engagement meetings, where city planners asked neighborhood residents what they wanted to see happen on this former parking lot. The park now features a dog park, multi-purpose lawn, and passive recreational space. In addition to rain gardens and bioswales that collect water from the surrounding streets and trees planted in cellular modules to maximize stormwater capture capacity, beneath the park are three stormwater basins that can hold up to 71,000 gallons of water. Next the city is developing the Northwest Resiliency Park on a former brownfield site, and a private developer is building a resiliency park as part of a residential development.
Earlier this week, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that revealed that the dire impacts and threats of climate change are happening at a much quicker rate than previously thought. As a second major hurricane barrels down in the Southeast United States this season, and countless international climate disasters are in the news every week, climate change is becoming more urgent, especially for coastal cities like New York.
Replacing our concrete surfaces for more green infrastructure and natural systems is a great way to address climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation. Vegetation throughout our cities take in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, as well as other air pollutants. Green roofs and street trees are also proven to reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer, reducing our demand for fossil fuel energy. In terms of adaptation, soft shorelines with layers of vegetation help block wind and wave energy, protecting communities along the coast. These green infrastructure systems are often less costly and much less resource-intensive than their grey infrastructure alternatives (such as stormwater tanks and metal bulkheads).
If recent climate change news has you thinking about ways to reduce your carbon footprint, such as using less electricity and driving less, also consider adding green infrastructure to your home and advocating in your community for more street trees and vegetated swales. If you own your home or a business, check out our green infrastructure guide for private property owners.
NYC Soil & Water Conservation District is seeking an IT consultant for a CSO public outreach project. The Request for Proposal is found here.
We believe this project is perfect for a graduate student with IT knowledge.
The project partners are Riverkeeper and the SWIM Coalition.
Join the NYC Soil & Water Conservation District on Wednesday October 3rd for our annual Green Infrastructure tour. This year, for the first time, we're going to Hoboken and touring by bicycle! Hoboken has small streets and great bicycle infrastructure, so touring by bike is an ideal way to see sites throughout the city! For those that do not wish to bike, you have the option to join us by van, but seats are very limited. We will meet at 8:45am (at the World Financial Center Ferry Terminal for cyclists, at the NYC Soil & Water Conservation District for the van), and will finish by 5pm.
Tour stops include:
Tickets are $5 and include lunch! Get your tickets at:
As cities across the country look more and more to investing in widespread green infrastructure, they must explore innovative ways to finance these new techniques. Traditionally, major grey infrastructure projects such as tanks and tunnels are paid for through a municipal bond, which the municipality will pay off over time through revenue generated through the water bill (in NYC’s case) or taxes. Environmental Impact Bonds (EIB) differ from municipal bonds as they use a “Pay for Success” approach, sharing performance risks with private investors. DC was the first city to trial an EIB last year. The tax-exempt bond finances DC to pilot green infrastructure projects, with an interest rate dependent on the performance of the green infrastructure project.
Building from DC’s model, Quantified Ventures launched a competition with Rockefeller Foundation and Neighborly to issue EIBs in two more US cities. Atlanta is the first to win this competition, funding eight green infrastructure projects for a total of $12.9 million. Baltimore is now looking to do the same. It will be a few years before we see the performance results in DC, and cannot yet measure the success of EIBs to fund green infrastructure projects. However, exploring innovative financing mechanisms for green infrastructure projects is an important measure to entice investors and quantify community and environmental benefits of green infrastructure.
On Thursday October 19th, NYC Soil & Water Conservation District is having its 7th Annual Green Infrastructure Bus Tour, this year in Philadelphia! Like New York City, Philadelphia is on a combined sewer system. In 2011, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) released Green City, Clean Waters, establishing a goal to “green” 10,000 acres with green infrastructure. Paired with incentives for private property owners and a new stormwater billing system, green infrastructure installations are now abundant in Philadelphia, on both public and private properties.
This year’s tour will have five stops including a pump house with a green roof, a community environmental center, an industrial site turned park on a college campus, a stormwater capture and reuse system at a Quaker House, and a rain garden managing stormwater from a highway. Get your tickets for the tour here!
Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center
In 2014, the Philadelphia Water Department and Department of Parks and Recreation opened the Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center. The performing arts center is a significant improvement from the aging playground and rec center once there, and features stormwater management practices on and under the site. Underneath Venice Island is a four million gallon stormwater retention basin, with a green roof on its only above-ground feature, the pumphouse. The parking lot is bounded by stormwater tree trenches, and the lot surfaces itself are permeable. Also on the site are basketball courts, an outdoor amphitheater, and a spray park. Venice Island is a great showcase for a comprehensive stormwater management project that meets the needs of the community.
For more information, visit: www.phillywatersheds.org/category/blog-tags/venice-island
Overbrook Environmental Education Center
Overbrook Arts and Environmental Education Center was founded in 2006 by former PWD employee, Jerome Shabazz. The Center itself was built on a brownfield site and serves and strengthens the environmental justice communities of Overbrook and Wynnefield. Jerome’s vision with the Overbrook Arts Center is to provide opportunity for young people in the community to get hands-on experience with stormwater and other environmental projects. The Center has a greenhouse, a warehouse for a future farmers market, and manages 100 percent of stormwater that falls on all three lots. The 45,000 square foot site manages 30,000 gallons of stormwater in a one inch storm through bioswales, a green roof, stormwater planters, and pervious pavement, all designed and installed by Jerome, his students and some technical assistance.
For more information, visit: www.overbrookcenter.org
Penn Park is a public park on University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) campus in West Philadelphia, designed by Van Valkenburg. Penn worked with Amtrak and SETPA, whose tracks surround the site, PWD and the Streets Department to design and construct new athletic fields on an old USPS vehicle maintenance facility and parking lot. The park opened in 2011 and align with Penn’s broader master plan, which goes above and beyond Green City, Clean Waters. The park manages about an inch and a half of rain through bioswales, over 500 newly planted trees, and meadow plantings. These landscape features complement the 300,000-gallon cistern underground that captures stormwater from the turf fields to reuse for irrigation. The meadow and bioswale landscape were chosen (in lieu of only underground cisterns) to showcase landscape typologies. There is also a food orchard in collaboration with the Philly Orchard Project and student-run apiary for on-site research and education.
For more information, see this case study from ULI.
Friends Center; The Quaker Hub for Peace & Justice in Philadelphia
The Friends Center is a green building that features geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, stormwater capture and reuse, a green roof and more. Rainwater from the meetinghouse rooftop is captured in cisterns, and used for flushing the toilets in the office building. The office building itself is covered with a green roof, cooling the building in the summer and extending the lifetime of the roof.
Find out more about the Friends Center here: www.friendscentercorp.org
I-95 Green Infrastructure
Three rain gardens line Richmond Street in Fishtown, underneath the highway I-95. Developed by PennDOT, Villanova University and Temple University, these gardens are a pilot to see how rain garden plantings survive with road salt, oil, and other highway stormwater contaminants.
The gardens are designed to manage 1.5 inches of rainfall over a 45,000 square foot drainage area, but have proven to manage more than that. Collectively, the gardens can manage over 32,000 gallons of stormwater from entering the combined sewer system. A larger phase is in the works, with the designed capacity to manage 1.2 million gallons of stormwater per storm. This site does not have a tour guide scheduled, and we will only stop here if time allows.
Check out this recent article in Philly.com
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