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Educate>Residential & Commerical Green Infrastructure

Residential & Commerical Green Infrastructure

Explore the world of Green infrastructure though rain barrels, green roofs, and porous pavement


What you should know about Rainwater

Previous Research on Rainwater

Solution I: Installation of a Rain Barrel

Solution II: Installation of a Green Roof

Solution III: Installation of Porous Pavement

What you need to know before installing a green roof

How to install your rain barrel

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Question and Answer Section from my neighbor Jane and Emily Roda

Questions and Answer Section from my neighbor Hector and Rose Mojica

 


What You Should Know About Rainwater

Rain is a natural resource. A rain drop takes on many jobs. A rain drop falls from the sky for the purpose of nurturing the earth vegetation. Consider the nourishment that rain provides to the earth. Rain nurtures the plants, trees, and farms throughout United States. When you think of the good things rain does for the earth, you never assume that it will become a factor polluting our water. Unfortunately, there are other occurrences of the rain. 

Many individuals are becoming more aware of the things that they can do to become green. These individuals are carrying this passion for green from home into the commercial industry. Live Green is a non-profit organization that is educating communities about green infrastructure in both residential and commercial establishments. LIVE Green is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and is working towards a zero footprint. With renewable solar electricity for our facilities, as well as recycling and composting our waste, we are well on our way.

The website offers a variety of solutions to everyday problems. You can find a wide variety of recommendation such as cleaning products, how to install a rain barrel, what you need to know to install a green roof, how to start a compost and many other great green ideas. Live Green is an organization working to renew the environment one foot print at a time.

LIVE Green secured $27,000 from the Lancaster County Community Foundation to develop and launch the Green Facilities Partnership. This partnership with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Green Seal matched experts with Lancaster nonprofits interested in reducing waste, conserving energy, and using environmentally sensitive cleaning products.

Here a few things Live Green has been working on in Lancaster:

LIVE Green secured $284,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections Energy Harvest Fund to upgrade facilities at the Lancaster city YWCA and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology to conserve and produce energy, improve air quality, and reduce water consumption. These upgrades now save the YWCA and the college a combined $50,000 a year in energy and water bills.


I will be taking a look at additional projects that Live Green will be researching to help promote green living in Lancaster. Starting with storm water conservation, heat island effect and ending with green vegetated roofs to conserve energy. Through the use of rain barrels, porous pavement and green roofs visitors will learn the how to prevent pollutant from flowing into the Chesapeake Bay as well as save money. Irrigation is one of the ways that money can be saved through the use of rain barrels. Rain barrels are used by many families use rain barrels as a way of watering their lawn or their gardens.

A discussion that is centered on rain water can take you a variety of directions. For many people one of the first things that come to mind when you mention storm water is rain barrels. This is a solution to the overflow of rain water traveling down into the sewer drains and mixing with other pollutants. Rain barrel water can be reused for multiple purposes. The most popular use is for irrigation. Many people use rain barrels to help with drainage problems that may occur on their property. Others use rain barrels as a way of saving money on their water bill. Whatever the reason a rain barrel is a great idea.

Imagine this for a moment. You use the bathroom on a daily basis and each time it rains the pollutants from the sewer mixes with the storm water. This mixture then travels down into larger bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay. This is a growing concern for many areas throughout the United States. As a body of water beings to fill with this undesirable mixture we find a growth in illness throughout the population.

How do we make this process stop? Do we allow the government to come in with a solution or do we create our own? This answer will be determined by many areas in the near future. Each area has to determine what the best solution to the problem is.

In urban areas rain travels from the roof tops of buildings down into the street and into sewage drains mixing with debris, such as leaves, trash, oil, and raw sewage. This mixture becomes a pollutant of our water system. These mixtures of pollutants are then transported into nearby rivers and other bodies of water.

 

rainy day at MU rainy day at MU 2

Photos by Javita Thompson

 


Previous Research on Rainwater

The United States Environmental Protection Agency provides it readers with a variety of information on storm water. The information ranges from municipalities to construction and industrial questions.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm water Program regulates storm water discharges from three potential sources:

  • municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s)

  • construction activities

  • industrial activities.

Most storm water discharges are considered point sources, and operators of these sources may be required to receive an NPDES permit before they can discharge. This permitting mechanism is designed to prevent storm water runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local surface waters such as streams, rivers, lakes or coastal waters. This is a very useful website for research because it allows you access to the local level.

In the context of water supply, water is energy (Craig, 2010, p. 225). In this article, Craig explains that there are always tradeoffs among energy use, economic costs and benefits, social benefits, and environmental costs in providing water supply. She discusses the shortage of water here in the United States as well as worldwide. She explains that desalination is the solution and how alternative forms of energy are possible. I believe that this article will provide me with a tremendous amount of insight and understanding on water as energy.

In this article Japan explains how the use of wastewater has been used on water retention pavements to effectively mitigation the heat island phenomenon. Sprinkling reclaimed wastewater on roads for heat island mitigation has attracted attention as a new way of using reclaimed wastewater in Japan (Yamagata, 2008, p. 770).

The survey that was conducted show that sprinkling reclaimed wastewater on water retentive pavement decreased the road surface temperature by 8 degrees during the daytime and by 3 degrees at night; and it indicated that sprinkling on water retentive pavement can reduce the sensible heat and increase the latent heat for heat island mitigation”( Yamagata, 2008, p. 770).

Dr. Vandana Shiva has been a leading voice in the efforts to defend local water right and promote new forms of partnerships to protect fresh water supplies. Dr. Andy Opel has written about the bottled water industry (Opel 1999) as well as the intersection of environmentalism and popular culture (Opel, 2008, p. 498). Shiva states that water is treated like a non-renewable resource.

Sustainable storm-water management focuses on selecting storm-water control based on an understanding of the problems in local receiving waters that result from runoff discharges (Pitt, 2008, p. 548). A variety of long term issues are associated with accumulations of pollutants found in storm-water.

Sedimentation in conveyance systems, undrinkable water, and nuisance algal growth are a few examples of some of the concerns that result from water runoff discharge. Water-quality problems due to storm-water runoff typically are associated with the smaller storms and not the design storms used by engineers for drainage (Pitt, 2008, p. 554).

 

Rain Barrel 1 Rain Barrel 2

Photos by Javita Thompson

 


Solution I: Installation of a Rain Barrel

As you can see from the research above, many areas are finding creative solutions to water and energy conservation. There are a few of solutions to these problems. One is installing a rain barrel. A rain barrel can be installed in almost any home or business. Some people choose to purchase a kit from their local hardware store while others choose to utilize a professional.

The rain drains into the rain barrel until it is full. The remaining water will then drain into the lawn. The rain water from the rain barrel can be used for irrigation of plants and gardens. Some people use the water from their rain barrel to wash their car and to clean around the outside areas of the home. It can also be used at construction sites for mixing concrete and other cleaning needs.

In Lancaster Live Green has been given a grant for city resident to purchase a rain barrel at a discounted price. Live Green has distributed more than 250 rain barrels to Lancaster County residents since the spring of 2008. Collectively, these rain barrels divert more than 3 million gallons of rain water from overwhelmed storm sewer systems.

The distribution of these rain barrels, done in partnership with the Lancaster County Conservation District, has been combined with hands-on workshops that educate citizens on the nature and impact of urban storm water pollution, and design solutions including rain gardens and bio-swales to compliment the installation of rain barrels.

You may visit for http://livegreenlancaster.org/ more details on how you may qualify for a discounted rain barrel.

 

Green Roof

Photo by Javita Thompson


 

Solution II: Installation of a Green Roof

Another solution to the problem is to install a green roof. A green roof is vegetation planted on the top of a roof.  A structural engineer should analyze the structure to ensure that the building can support the weight of a green roof. Through the use of a green roof, water is retained in the plants on the roof to help cut down on water drainage into the sewer systems.

Green roofs help to create a new way of conserving energy by reducing the temperature on the top of buildings. This reduction in temperature allows the cooling unit to work without so much pressure. Gardens are planted on structurally sound roofs.

There a couple of locations throughout Lancaster that are taking advantage of its solid foundation and building a green roof. Groff Funeral Home located on West Orange Street in Lancaster city is one of the propertys that have build a green roof. It is open to the public and the owners plan on making this green roof an oasis for those who have lost love ones. This would be a place that you can visit to clear your mind from the stresses of losing a love one.

Another location is at the campus of Franklin and Marshall. The science department decided to give it a try as they were learning the value of green roofs in class. Lafayette Elementary school is yet another location that has installed a green roof. They are popping up all over Lancaster.

The roofs were funded with a portion of a $479,000 "energy harvesting" grant the planning commission received from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Vegetated roof also weighs more than a conventional roof and requires beefed-up structural supports to handle up to 50 pounds per square foot of extra weight when wet. But green roofs can last up to twice as long as a conventional design, Gattis-Schell said, and they have multiple environmental benefits. Their extra insulating properties cut heating and cooling costs and reduce the "heat island" effect, the buildup of heat from idling vehicles, pavement and the flat black roof common to urban areas. The vegetation also greatly reduces storm water runoff and filters pollutants from the water that does end up in the sewage system.

A 2009 study by Millersville University found that a vegetative roof recently installed at Novelty Brush Co. in Lancaster reduced nitrates in rainwater runoff by 97 percent. The green roof also reduced heat transfer by about 35 percent and is expected to cut energy costs by 25 percent.

You can read more: http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/281792#ixzz15yp73ZR1

Live Green has done its part in green roof installation by facilitated the installation of vegetated or green roofs on roughly 51,000 square feet of non-residential roof space in Lancaster city, in conjunction with the Lancaster County Planning Commission. Lancaster city is a competitor for the honor of having the most green roof area per capita of any city in the United States.

 


Solution III: Installation of Porous Pavement

The final solution is for you to get more information on porous pavement. Porous pavement is concrete that contains pores and a basin underneath to hold water until it evaporates. Porous pavement will help to reduce the flow of pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding bodies of water. This is done by building garages with pavement that absorbs water. In Lancaster city Live Green and the local legislation is trying to solve this problem on their own with the help of some engineers. These organizations are toying with the idea of porous pavement. Porous pavement as described by Fritz Schroeder of Live Green is a concrete that absorbs water. Underneath this pavement is a basin that holds the overflow of water until evaporation takes place.

You may be wondering as I did what happening if we get a large amount of rain-Where will the water go once the basin is filled? The answer is to this concern is that the water will flow back down into the sewer where it will then travel on into the Chesapeake Bay or other bodies of water. The amount of storm water mixed with sewage will be decreased but none the less it will still add pollutants to the Chesapeake Bay.

Our government is intervening in trying to help find solutions for our water drainage problem. As a community the citizens of Lancaster is also teaming up to find a way to solve the problem of pollutants being spread into our water. Discussions are still being held to help find the best solution to the problem.  Finding information pertaining to porous roof can be difficult. This is still a relatively new process. Live Green is partnering with engineers to help determine the best way to use porous pavement in the construction of garages in the city of Lancaster. Each of these solutions will help you do your part in conserving water and energy.

You can find more information on some of the things that Lancaster is doing to try to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay by visiting the website below: http://www.stormwaterpa.org/blog/chesapeake-bay/lancaster-county-clean-water-consortium-taking-on-the-bay-challenge-in-a-positive-way/

It contains meeting notes as well as updates of the coming events that will be taking place to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.


Reflection

Weve been following the Lancaster County Clean Water Consortium and have been impressed with their direction and tone. At its 4th meeting last week, Scott Martin, County Commissioner Chair, welcomed the crowd with some especially impressive opening remarks, congratulating the Consortium for its commitment to achieving Chesapeake Bay water quality goals in a way which made the most sense for Lancaster County stakeholders. In the current atmosphere of so much environmental push back and distrust of larger environmental programs emanating from agencies such as EPA Chesapeake Bay program, such a positive posture - with so much at stake in Lancaster County - is remarkable and refreshing.  Keep it up, Lancaster County!

The public comment period is closing on Pennsylvania's Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake.  We can understand how DEP officials charged with developing the WIP are frustrated - caught between the veritable rock and hard place - but the bottom line is the reality of the Bay and its water quality.  Defective models or not, the reality of water quality problems speaks for itself.  We have to do better if we want to bring the Bay back. Consider what you can do to help the environment.  Install a rain barrel; get more details from your local hardware store.

Find more information about green roof installations visit the Live Green website at http://livegreenlancaster.org/.

 


What You Need to Know Before Installing a Green Roof

As stated before a structural engineer is recommended to evaluate the property prior to green roof installation. A structural engineer will evaluate the weigh capacity of the roof. Once you have the green light from a structure engineer you can begin your installation process.

There are several local examples of green roofs in the Lancaster area. You may visit Lafayette Middle School or the Groff Funeral home to see local green roofs. One of the fundamental criterions that must be evaluated is whether the structure can hold 50 lbs per square foot. This is why it is difficult to find buildings that have strong enough foundations for constructing a green roof. Building that have a concrete base are the best types of structure to consider when building a green roof.

Perennials are the type of plants that are typically planted on green roofs. The reason for this is that perennials hold a great deal of water. When you take a look at the Groff Funeral Home green roof you will find a combination of perennials and gravel. The heating and air conditioning units are also located on the top of the roof. Drain is set up for the overflow of rain. The rain that overflows from the roof top will travel down the downspout.

Green roofs are also a great way to conserve energy. They help to maintain the outdoor temperature even in high elevations such as a roof. They help to maintain a stable condition on the roof top through the use of the perennials and the water that is held in the plants. The moisture in the plants help to maintain the current outdoor temperature and thus reduces the need for the additional use of energy to cool the building.

 

 

How to Install Your Rain Barrel

Start with your homemade or store bought rain barrel. Make sure the rain barrel has been flushed out if you are using a homemade unit. A barrel can be solidly constructed, but it will not work properly if it is not installed properly. There are three parts to installing a barrel: 1) analyzing the site and choosing a location, 2) setting up the barrel and 3) modifying the downspout.

Step 1

Site Analysis and Downspout Selection

  • Select a downspout considering ease of access and need for stored water.

  • Do not block walkways or place the barrel where you cannot easily get to the rain barrel for maintenance.

  • Place the rain barrel where you will need extra water - close to planted beds for watering or near the driveway for washing your car.           


Step 2

Setting up the Barrel

  • Level the ground where the barrel will sit.

  • Depending on the volume, a rain barrel can weigh over 1,000 pounds when full, so it is very important that the barrel be stable.

  • The ground can be leveled with gravel, sand, a cement tile, bricks, cinder blocks, or similar material.

  • Elevate the rain barrel.

  • Place the barrel on cinder blocks about 8- 15 inches off the ground.

  • Elevating your barrel will provide extra water pressure, making it easier to drain the barrel.

  • The rain barrel does not need to be elevated if the area where the water will be used is downhill from the barrel.


Step 3

Modifying the Downspout

  • Use a hacksaw and cut the downspout 6-9 inches above the top of the barrel.

  • If the downspout bracket is below your cut, remove the bracket and place it above the cut.

  • Squeeze or crimp the downspouts end so the elbow will fit over it.

  • Attach the elbow to the downspout.

  • If the barrel has a screened top, orient the elbow so the water flows into center of the lid.

  • If the barrel has a diverter, use a flex tube to extend the downspout into the diverter.

  • Attach overflow tube.

  • The overflow should be at least as large as the downspout going into the barrel and 10 feet long.

  • Direct overflow rainwater away from your foundation and into a vegetated area.


    Optional Modifications to your Rain Barrel

To collect a larger volume of water, connect multiple rain barrels together using the overflow tube as a connection from one barrel to the next.

A soaker hose can be connected to the spigot so that rain collected in the barrel can water a planted bed slowly over time.

Find a level area around your dwelling where a downspout is located. If no even ground is available, use cinder blocks, patio/interlock stones, or gravel to develop a flat area for the rain barrel to rest. Keep in mind that the rain barrel will become very heavy once it is full.

Finally, set up the overflow port. If you have purchased a rain barrel with an overflow port, you have two options. You can either connect multiple units together, or you can fasten a hose or drip line to the overflow port. Whatever option you choose, the point is to prevent the rain barrel from overflowing during heavy rains, and guiding excess water away from you foundation.

In both cases, a hose attached to the overflow port on the last rain barrel in the chain is a very smart, precautionary method to ensure neither foundation leaks nor wet basements

Now that installation is complete, you can wait for the rain to come. Once the rain barrel is full, you can use its spigot to fill a water can or a water hose to attach to a sprinkler system to water your lawn.

 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a rain barrel?

  • A container used to connect to the downspout of a property to hold water.

2. What is porous pavement?           

  • Pavement that is full of pore, which absorb liquid such as water; a basin is also located underneath the concrete foundation to hold water until it evaporates.

3. What is a downspout?           

  • A vertical pipe used for conducting rain from the roof of buildings or homes.

4. What is a perennial?           

  • A plant that has a life span longer that one year and can survive winter weather that is not extreme. They are typically used on green roofs because they absorb water and can survive in multiple climates.

5. What is a green roof?           

  • A roof stables enough to withstand the planting of perennials and other vegetations.  

6. Where do I find a rain barrel in Lancaster County?

7. Where can I find discounted rain barrels?

  • There are a variety of government grants that are in place for urban residents.

    Visit http://livegreenlancaster.org/ for more details.

    You may also find rain barrel at a reasonable price at your local hardware store. Some may sell as low as$40 to $50 per unit.

8. How do I install a rain barrel?


Step 1 - Site Analysis and Downspout Selection

  • Select a downspout considering ease of access and need for stored water.

  • Do not block walkways or place the barrel where you cannot easily get to the rain barrel for maintenance. Place the rain barrel where you will need extra water - close to planted beds for watering or near the driveway for washing your car.

Step 2 - Setting up the Barrel

  • Level the ground where the barrel will sit. Depending on the volume, a rain barrel can weigh over 1,000 pounds when full, so it is very important that the barrel be stable. The ground can be leveled with gravel, sand, a cement tile, bricks, cinder blocks, or similar material.

  • B. Elevate the rain barrel. Place the barrel on cinder blocks about 8- 15 inches off the ground. Elevating your barrel will provide extra water pressure, making it easier to drain the barrel. The rain barrel does not need to be elevated if the area where the water will be used is downhill from the barrel.

Step 3 - Modifying the Downspout

  • Use a hacksaw and cut the downspout 6-9” above the top of the barrel. If the downspout bracket is below your cut, remove the bracket and place it above the cut.

  • Squeeze or crimp the downspouts end so the elbow will fit over it. Attach the elbow to the downspout. If the barrel has a screened top, orient the elbow so the water flows into center of the lid. If the barrel has a diverter, use a flex tube to extend the downspout into the diverter.

  • Attach overflow tube. The overflow should be at least as large as the downspout going into the barrel and 10 feet long. Direct overflow rainwater away from your foundation and into a vegetated area.

Optional Modifications to your Rain Barrel

  • To collect a larger volume of water, connect multiple rain barrels together using the overflow tube as a connection from one barrel to the next.

  • A soaker hose can be connected to the spigot so that rain collected in the barrel can water a planted bed slowly over time.

  • Find a level area around your dwelling where a downspout is located. If no even ground is available, use cinder blocks, patio/interlock stones, or gravel to develop a flat area for the rain barrel to rest. Keep in mind that the rain barrel will become very heavy once it is full.

  • Finally, set up the overflow port. If you have purchased a rain barrel with an overflow port, you have two options. You can either connect multiple units together, or you can fasten a hose or drip line to the overflow port.

Whatever option you choose, the point is to prevent the rain barrel from overflowing during heavy rains, and guiding excess water away from you foundation. In both cases, a hose attached to the overflow port on the last rain barrel in the chain is a very smart, precautionary method to ensure neither foundation leaks nor wet basements

9. Can you refer me to someone who installs rain barrels professionally?

Visit http://livegreenlancaster.org/  for recommendations for professional installations.

There is also training available to those who are interested in learning to install rain barrels. Easy to follow instructions are also included with the rain barrel when you purchase it. Any hand man should be able to help you with installation.

10. How do I learn more about porous pavement?

Visit livegreensd.com for more details on future plans of using porous pavement in the construction of parking lots and other foundations.


Questions and Answer Section

 

Provided by Jane and Emily Roda

  • What made you decide to get a rain barrel?

    I was just excited about reusing water. I have some drainage issues on my property and I thought this would help. It keeps the kids from turning on the spigot for small amounts of water because it is located closer to the play area than the outdoor water hose.

  • Where did you get your rain barrel?

    I put my name in for a drawing and I won it! I was so excited because they are a little on the expensive side. I've always wanted one. I love the thought of doing something for the environment. As a parent I feel that I should do what I can to help.

  • Is one rain barrel enough for your home?

    I would love to have another one. I am always looking for a great deal on one. A variety of catalogs show all types of stylish ones. They range from looking like rocks to some other types of decorative ornaments that can be found around almost any home. I think that the price is a little steep. I would love to take advantage of some type of discount program to purchase another one for the other side of the house.

  • How soon before the does the rain barrel fill?

    One nice rain will fill up the barrel. This is why we would like another one for the opposite side of the house. One of our neighbors has two and she seems to do more with the water from the barrel.

  • What other things do you do with the water other than the kids?

    We use it for cleaning our garden tool, watering spots in the lawn that look a little dry, watering my vegetable garden, and for watering our compost pile (the water compost has to be watered).

  • Emily what do you think of the rain barrel?

    I love to share it with my friends. She takes all of her friends over to see the water that is free. You know I did not have to tell Emily once to turn off that water.

 

Provided by Hector and Rose Mojica

  • Where did you get your rain barrel?

    Home Depot was having a sale and we picked two. My husband Hector and I installed them both. They were pretty easy to install. A friend of mind turned me on to it. She has such a beautiful garden and she encouraged me to start my own. I decided that I would with a little help from her.

  • What do with the water from the barrel?

    We water the plants in the yard and we would use a watering can to water the garden. We tried using it for the lawn but the barrel lacks water pressure so we just get the kids out with the watering cans.

  • Have you seen any savings in your water bill?

    We saved a lot of money this summer on our water bill.  I used it a lot.  It saves me from having to pull out my water hose every day.

  • What are some other things you do with the water from your rain barrel?

    We also used it to wash the cars to clean the bird dropping from the drive way and other areas around the house. It can be used in construction and rising off other tools outside

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This site was created by Javita Thompson at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

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