Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 4: Four Mile Sustainability Tour

This week we went on a walking tour of our watershed to look for sustainable stormwater management practices, such as rain gardens and green roofs. We visited sustainable sites at the Phipps Conservatory's Living Building, the Schenley Park Visitor's Center, and on Carnegie Mellon's campus. The maps below shows the locations of the stops on our tour.

At the Phipps Conservatory we toured the green roof on top of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. The green roof has 8 inches of soil that is planted with native plant species. The green roof provides habitat for birds and insects, captures stormwater, and saves energy by cooling the building.

The teens exploring the green roof at Phipps. 
The green roof also has 50 gallon rain barrels that capture additional water from the roof. The rain barrels store rainwater so Phipps staff can use the water in the barrels to water the plants instead of using tap water.

A 50 gallon rain barrel stores rainwater.
The stormwater lagoon at Phipps takes rainwater runoff from the roofs and filters it through a wetland. The plants use nutrients in the water to help them grow and the water provides habitat for turtles and fish. Once water from the lagoon is cleaned it is stored in large underground tanks.

Stormwater lagoon home to wetland plants and turtles!
We also saw pervious pavement which allows water to drain right through. The teens tested how well the pervious pavement works by dumping water on a section of pervious and impervious pavement. Water soaked right through the pervious pavement! See this video of our demonstration. 

We also looked at a couple of rain gardens they have at Phipps. These bowl shaped gardens capture stormwater runoff from the Phipps parking lot. Cuts in the curb allow water to flow from the parking lot into the garden. The plants then use the stormwater and purify it via filtration. 

Cuts in the curb allow rainwater runoff to enter the garden.
Group photo by the rain garden at Phipps
After our Phipps tour we headed to the Schenley Park Visitor's Center to look at another smaller rain garden and five 133 gallon rain barrels. The rain garden captures rainwater runoff from 1/3 of the building's roof and the rain barrels capture runoff from the rest of the rooftop. 

Anna for scale, showing the large size of the 133 gallon rain barrels.
This rain garden capture roof runoff from 1/3 of the roof.
Our last stop was Carnegie Mellon where we visited three more green roofs.

Posner Hall green roof has large shrubs.
Doherty Hall green roof has small succulent plants and grasses.
After our fieldtrip we came back to the museum to summarize what we learned. The teens identified the problems each practice solved and explained how each practice functions. Next class the teens will use materials to create a model to represent the different sustainable stormwater practices they saw.

Brainstorm session at the museum.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a fun little field trip. Glad you were able to post lots of photos!
    -Jack @ inlet filter