July 8, 2008
Edith Van Hoesen
Green is an affordable option for all projects. Many cost savings are found in low impact techniques. These techniques can be used on individual projects or for multi unit development designs. One example is reducing infrastructure costs by disturbing less land. Fewer materials are used, equipment costs are reduced, storm water is managed more effectively and natural habitats are preserved. Combining affordable techniques and products with smart design can create significant financial and environmental savings.
One aspect of a low impact development is a bioswale. Is it a fancy ditch or is it a storm water management best practice? A bioswale is a storm water retention practice using a vegetative depression sized to handle average amounts of rainwater runoff with an under drain of perforated pipe. The rainwater can be returned back to the aquifer after infiltrating the soil naturally. Bioswales can be found in commercial and residential developments at the front or back of a lot, next to the road or between buildings. Bioswales can alleviate the need for curbs and gutters, which quickly move water off site and create unnecessary flooding issues. Because a bioswale is vegetative the water is naturally cleansed and ready to return to the environment. This is a less expensive alternative to curb and gutter that benefits the environment.
Environmentally friendly building practices can also have an impact on the health of the residents as well as the health of the environment. Energy generation and conservation, ventilation rates, lighting, water and sewage all have a direct impact on our well being.
As a green building consultant, the task is to educate the customer and reevaluate building and design needs, keeping in mind a more sustainable plan that uses a common sense approach with locally available resources and renewable energy options.