architecture · community · environment · happiness · health

Seattle Neighbors Fight Stormwater Pollution by Building Rain Gardens · Oregon Public Broadcasting

This post is a total plug on my part of an activity meant to encourage people to go out and get their hands dirty, improve their environment, and help nature at the same time: Rain gardens!

Gardening season is coming to an end for most of us, but it’s not too late to plant a rain garden for this winter’s torrents.

Rain gardens are becoming more popular, especially in places like Seattle with significant rain and run-off, and I suspect also because they’re very low maintenance; you simply plant, water them until they’re established, and let nature to the rest. They also make the neighborhood look nicer than just having a strip of grass between your car and the sidewalk.

The West Seattle neighborhood is actively encouraging residents to plant rain gardens:

The gardens are part of a campaign by Washington State University and the non-profit Stewardship Partners. Their goal is to install 12,000 rain gardens in Puget Sound communities by 2016. So far, more than 700 gardens have been installed (see a map of them) and more are being added every week.

“Twelve thousand gardens will absorb approximately 160 million gallons of stormwater each year,” said Stacey Gianas, who is with Stewardship Partners.

That much water would fill 250 Olympic swimming pools. And its stormwater, which washes over roofs and streets, picking up all kinds of pollution. Usually that contaminant-filled water runs into storm drains that empty into waterways and rivers.

more via Neighbors Fight Stormwater Pollution by Building Rain Gardens · Oregon Public Broadcasting · EarthFix.

Rain gardens can be as small as a couple of feet, or take up the entire yard. They also promote wildlife (the good kind!) to stop and visit.

architecture · behavior · children · community · creativity · design · education · environment

Green learning and sustainable knowledge

Kids learn the best by what they see and experience, not just what they are told. What better way to teach about environmental and sustainable practices then by demonstrating that at school?! Two projects in the Pacific Northwest are combining creative alternative designs and technologies to create an ideal environment for learning and minimizing impact on the environment.

I always wanted to live in a tree house or a hobbit hole. But going to school in a “living building” would be a pretty close second. From KUOW:

LEED–certified buildings are meant to be environmentally friendly and highly energy efficient. But now, there is a new standard that goes well beyond that. It’s called the “living building” and there are only three of them in the world. In Seattle, one elementary school is building what could be the first living building in the state.

The kids got to offer ideas for the school, and with its grand opening last friday, will hopefully make a splash (it does have it’s own little stream, after all).

In a related project, a school in Poulsbo is putting in Washington State’s fifth largest solar array:

“Next month, Lander, 56, will flip the switch on his first full-size community solar project atop Poulsbo Middle School, the largest of its kind in Washington and the fifth-largest solar system in the state.”

I also love the fact that both of these projects are community-based, in that the kids got to provide input on the school, and the solar panels are also community-driven.