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Practice : Winter 2009
The Boston A rchitectural College is committed to implementing the principles of sustain- ability in an urba n setting, and to educating students, design profe ssiona ls and the general public ab out the critical role that sustainable design and energ y con ser vation will play in improving the communities in which we live a nd work. The College is seeking support for Urban Sustainability at the BAC, a three- pa rt project that will have a positive and significant impact on the surrounding neighborhood and will achieve several impor- tant goals: energy conservation, reduction of stormwater runoff, generation of power through alternative energ y source s, elimination of the BAC’s c arbon footprint, and education of the public. Urban Sustainability at the BAC has three complementary components: to build a Green Roof on our main building at 320 Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay Historic District, to construct a Green Alley in Public Alley 444 between 320 Newbury a nd 951 Boylston Street (the former ICA building), a nd to explore the possibility of drilling geothermal wells which would tap into the earth’s con stant underground temperature s to provide air conditioning a nd heating for BAC facilities. The environ- menta lly friendly geotherma l system us es no fossil fuel, produc es no emissions and runs silently, providing a sustainable model for commercial and residential buildings throughout Boston. Bob Uhlig, a Principal at Halvorson Design Pa rtnership, directs the project te am. “ The BAC Green Roof/Green Alley project is being designed to achieve multiple environ- mental benefits,” Bob explained. “One of the principal benefits involve s redirecting stormwater back into the ground, instead of through sewer pipes to remote loc ations. This is a critica l problem in the C ollege’s Back Bay neighborhood, where depleted groundwater levels threaten the piles support- ing hundreds of building foundation s.” Bob c ontinued, “The project is unusual in that it takes into account both rooftop a nd ground-level environments, with an eye to having them work cumulatively to ma ximize sustainable effe cts. The soils and plants on the roof and in “window b ox” planters will ab sorb ra inwater and tran spire it back into the air. All excess water will be conveyed through down spouts into a gravel-filled draina ge layer beneath the alley, where it can seep evenly back into the ground below. Precipitation that falls directly onto the alley surface will augment the groundwater recharge by flowing into the drainage l ayer through perme able pavement. Weather scientists ta lk about “storm e vents,” basic ally the number of different times that it rains or snows. Our team’s calculations indicate that fully 95% of all storm events will be accommodated by the Green Roof / Green Alley improvements, redirecting more tha n 360,000 gallons of rainfall away from the storm se wers and into groundwater recharge.” Rob Adams, a Senior Associate landscape architect at Halvorson Design, is the lead designer for the BAC project, a role he played in the cre ation of the awa rd-winning Ulfelder Healing Garden at Massachusetts General Hospita l. Mr. Adams explained, “The Ulfeder Healing Garden, on the eighth floor roof of the new Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, is sometimes de scribed a s an “intensive green roof ” in that it is designed to be a usable outdoor spa ce by visitors , which include s trees and shrubs, as well as flowers. fEaTURE ] URbaN SUSTaINabIlITy Urban Sustainability Tracey L. Thompson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement Ulfeder h ealing gar den , mgh aSla headquar ters Washington mutual, Seattle pRacTIcE 52