Since 2006, the SITES program, in conjunction with a diverse group of stakeholder organizations, has worked to transform land development and management practices with this first national rating system for sustainable landscapes. The guidelines apply to any type of designed landscape, with or without buildings.
City Park’s Festival Grounds was one of the first pilot projects to be certified under the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) Rating System for sustainable site design, construction and maintenance.
Festival Grounds was awarded a one-star rating by SITES, an interdisciplinary effort led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create a voluntary, national rating system and guidelines for sustainable landscapes of all types, with or without buildings. Certification is based on The Sustainable Sites Initiative™: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009.
In June 2010, Festival Grounds was one of more than 150 national and international pilot projects to begin testing the 4-star rating system and guidelines. Categories in which points could be achieved include Site Selection (the Festival Grounds, as a retired golf course, qualifies as a Brownfields site; the site is an infill site located in an urban area with excellent connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods along pedestrian and bicycle routes); Materials Selection (only wood from FSC sourced lumber was allowed, and all soils generated in excavation for the paths was reused on site; coatings were all low VOC; recycled concrete was used in lieu of limestone for path base); Human Health and Wellbeing (outdoor spaces were created for mental restoration, physical activity, and social interaction); green Construction Practices (disturbed soils were restored, all oaks trees on site were protected by fencing and site design was based on retaining native plant communities); and Water (plant selection was designed to eliminate the need for irrigation).
Among the specific sustainable design benchmarks met by Festival Grounds were:
Stormwater Storage - One of the major green features of the Festival Grounds is the one-acre constructed wetland on the north side of the site. It stores over a half-million gallons of water in a major rain event, and was designed to include several different riparian zones at a variety of depths, and is planted with a wide selection of native plants which were sourced locally. The wetland receives one third of the stormwater from the 50-acre Festival Grounds and helps prevent flooding in adjacent neighborhoods by preventing the Festival Grounds runoff from inundating the City’s pumping station. The thriving ecosystem is accessed by a recycled plastic composite boardwalk which allows for up-close interaction with the various habitats.
Renewable Energy – The Reunion Shelter at the Festival Grounds is the newest shelter in City Park. On top of the Reunion Shelter sit 66 solar panels, made in America. The system will produce roughly 20,000 kWh, providing an average yearly savings of $2,421. Over 30 years, the solar system will offset approximately 5,500 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to planting 27,000 trees in the Park.
Innovation in Design – The project was awarded 30 points for innovation for the following:
• The Civil Engineering Department at UNO studied the project and performed their own version of Sustainable Sites evaluation, to familiarize future design professionals about the role sustainability can play in engineering;
• The site is the location of a rotating public art display where major sculptural installations can be available for public viewing;
• Landscape architects from Dana Brown and Associates provide ongoing maintenance training at the wetlands, to introduce schools groups from high schools and colleges to green infrastructure and native plants.
Among those on the project team were:
Dana Brown and Associates – Landscape Architect for the constructed wetlands
Torre Design Consortium – Landscape Architect for the project
Meg Adams, P.E., LEED AP, Project Manager for City Park