Located in Atlanta, CHRIS Kids’ Summit Trail development provides a housing community for young adults aging out of foster care or who are homeless. The project, on 2.2 acres of land, includes renovating four existing apartment buildings, construction of a new housing facility, and the CHRIS Counseling and Education Center.
In a move to develop a stronger foundation for teen care, CHRIS Kids has undertaken a two-phase, $12.1 million dollar renovation and new construction project that includes a 20,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system from BRAE, a Watts Water Technologies company.
Among the goals at Summit Trail was the desire to renovate exterior spaces to create a community atmosphere with room for a new playground and green spaces for socializing. As members of the design team, staff professionals from the Atlanta office of landscape architects Pond Ecos worked closely with CHRIS Kids to understand the needs for the space. Pond Ecos created a design that specified drought-tolerant native plants and — to meet all irrigation needs there — a 20,000-gallon, above-ground rainwater catchment cistern and a below-ground transfer tank.
“In our industry, there’s an adage that describes how best to harvest clean rainwater: It’s ‘catch it from the roof,’” continues Van Giesen. He explains that roofs are least affected by contaminants and impurities that, especially, come from street and roadway rainwater runoff.
“Working with Pond Ecos’ experts, we determined that roof surface areas alone wouldn’t provide enough rainwater drainage to fully irrigate the facility’s landscaped and green areas,” Van Giesen adds.
Yet Pond Ecos pressed their green team to be creative, to think outside the box for a rainwater irrigation system that would be self-sustaining.
“So Pond Ecos developed an engineered plan that pulled additional rainwater from the landscaped areas and sidewalks,” says Van Giesen.
He explains that during a rain, the roof and sidewalk runoff mix in drainage catch basins, moving from there to an underground sump tank. When the water volume reaches a certain level, a sump float triggers activation of a five-horsepower pump that moves the collected water to the large above-ground BRAE tank that Colbenson especially appreciates as a prominent, visible pronouncement of the organization’s commitment to sustainability.
“During the past couple of years, the threat of water-use bans and restrictions in Atlanta have set a new and different tone, and a greater appreciation for the finite resource that water is,” says Stephen Brooks, technical manager for Pond Ecos.
“This has driven the need for alternative water sourcing,” he adds. “It seems clear that the city will be challenged, more and more frequently, in meeting the local population’s water-use needs — that is, meeting the drinking water needs alone. Add the additional need for irrigation: It’s not an optimistic picture. Here, and at other cities in the South and Southwest, there’s little doubt that we need to re-examine how we use water and where it will come from. Clearly, this is a very good time to look at the viability of harvesting rainwater, especially for irrigation.
Atlanta’s annual rainfall averages 50 inches a year. There seems to be little doubt that recent climate change has substantially affected rainfall there, so much so that Brooks and others felt most comfortable with the choice of native plants for the organization’s campus, choosing native birch, oaks and sweet bay magnolia along with resilient ground cover that included black-eyed Susans, St. John’s wort and drought-tolerant Zoysia sod within the active play space areas.
Phase I of CHRIS Kids’ project earned the organization EarthCraft Multi-Family Certification and the EarthCraft Multi-Family Project of the Year. Phase II is expected to earn USGBC LEED Silver or Gold certification.
For more information and photos of the project: http://www.edcmag.com/articles/88733-precious-resources