- System Description
- Campus Context
- Goals and Targets
- Lessons Learned
- Future Learning
Image 14.1 Stormwater Diagram
14.1 System Overview
A number of criteria were examined when considering site placement, including the long term land use and development plans for the campus, synergies with other campus institutions and infrastructure, and the desire to feature projects demonstrating the University’s commitment to sustainability. Although water movement on site was a priority, the size of the building footprint severely restricted the scale of the landscaped area, a vital component for water management. By looking beyond the site’s legal parcel boundaries to the adjacent Sustainability Street the project team was able to provide the required landscape functions, illustrating the potential for synergies and holistic design approaches in landscape on campus.
With every new building on campus, the primary siting priority is the efficient and effective use of the campus land. Academic synergies must be balanced within this priority, ensuring that the needs of researchers, educators and students working in the building are met and that proximity to other collaborators is considered. The CIRS program posed a particular challenge in this respect, because most of the inhabitants consist of a collection of interdisciplinary academic groups with connections to many different departments, faculties and research groups on campus. A location near the Applied Sciences building was chosen to facilitate what is expected to be a high degree of collaboration and involvement on sustainability issues. The site was previously developed, with a single story facility for the short term storage of furniture and equipment. CIRS increased site intensity as well as density by maintaining the previous warehouse function in the basement and adding academic, research and social uses.
The CIRS site considerations were also strongly linked to the symbolic implications of the project as a demonstration of UBC’s commitment to sustainable development. The site is part of the central campus area along West Mall, which is a prominent transportation pathway and highly visible to both the campus community and visitors. The site is adjacent to Sustainability Street, an existing and established demonstration of the University’s sustainability infrastructure. CIRS and Sustainability Street are the initial phases of what will become a precinct focused on research and education on sustainability. The concept of the campus as a living laboratory for the study of sustainability will spread as the University incorporates the principles and lessons learned from CIRS into future development on the campus.
Image 14.2 CIRS Site Location
The building fills the majority of its site, leaving only small landscaped areas (approximately 310 square meters total) along the north, west and south sides. These areas include a beautiful and highly functional landscape, located in close proximity to common paths of travel. Designed as a rain garden and bioswale to address the falling rain and stormwater runoff, the small natural systems overflow into each other as needed and in the process visually and audibly highlighting the procession of water through the site. The landscape is a mixture of shrubs, ground cover, climbing vines, perennials, ferns and ornamental grasses, which are native to the area, low-maintenance and generally require no additional water, beyond typical rainfall.
The size of the landscaped area within the site boundary is too small to effectively deal with the volume of expected stormwater from the site. Instead the design solution takes advantage of a large infiltration basin located at the same elevation on the parcel directly to the south of CIRS. This parcel includes Sustainability Street, an existing piece of landscape infrastructure running between Main Mall and West Mall, with native plantings and a bioswale for water drainage feeding the basin, which has enough capacity to handle the additional water volume generated on the CIRS site. To reach the infiltration basin, the water from the CIRS site moves through the bioswale and a rock lined trench to an underground pipe running beneath the paving of the Street and connects to the landscaped infiltration basin, where the water filters down through the soil to the aquifer below the campus. Using the landscape to direct the flow of water through the site helps to prevent flooding and erosion, while still allowing the water and carried nutrients to seep into soil.
Typical design and construction practices avoid moving water across site boundaries because of liability concerns or building code regulations. In a campus setting, these concerns are not applicable and cross boundary solutions can be sought. This strategy was especially appealing as the University is in the process of developing a more natural system based campus wide plan for stormwater management. Regardless of the legal boundaries and management restrictions, this landscaping strategy is an excellent example of the benefits of considering stormwater management and landscape as an ecosystem service and taking a holistic approach rather than limiting the design to the restrictions of the legal site.
Image 14.3 CIRS Living Roof. Photograph by Martin Tessler
14.3 Campus Context
UBC Campus Plan
The UBC Campus Plan outlines the protocols for decisions regarding the siting and land use of new projects, including guidelines for academic programs, development density, preservation and creation of networked open space, service infrastructure and sustainability considerations. The plan encourages the integration of buildings, landscapes and infrastructure to provide natural systems solutions to utilities, especially water management and ecosystems services, such as the stormwater strategy and habitat provision created through the landscape design at CIRS, as well as sites for informal outdoor learning and nurturing places for community and individual health. Living laboratory projects, focusing on sustainability, (including the integration of different strategies in project like CIRS), will be encourage and supported, increasing the visibility of these types projects in the community.
UBC Land Use Plan
The UBC Land Use Plan, developed in 2010-11, sets objectives for future land use and transportation on the Point Grey Campus and is intended to ensure that development and growth conforms with both the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s Livable Region Strategic Plan and the University’s educational mission. It lays out the goals and principles guiding land use decisions on campus, in relationship to three main imperatives – ecology (maintaining an healthy regional ecosystem), economy (encouraging responsible development) and community (a high quality, compact integrated development). These guidelines are the basis for the criteria by which the University will decide which sites are given to which building projects and the direction of future development of the campus through individual projects, such as CIRS.
UBC Technical Guidelines, Division 2 (02720, 02900)
Division 2 of the UBC Technical Guidelines relates to Site Work; sections 02720 Storm Drainage and 02900 Landscape Systems are of particular relevance. Section 027200 describes how a project handles stormwater on its site, including design and construction requirements and connection to the existing campus wide stormwater drainage system, which returns water to an aquifer under the campus. The CIRS project connects to an infiltration basin on an adjacent parcel. Section 02900 describes UBC and province wide landscape guidelines and coordination with campus stakeholders, as well as design and construction requirements for plantings, hard landscaping, irrigation, pest management, green roofs and crime prevention strategies to be implement in the landscape design of a new project on campus.
UBC Integrated Stormwater Management Plan
UBC's Vancouver campus includes four watersheds that each require specific drainage strategies. UBC is developing an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan for this purpose. The plan, currently under review, focuses on retention of rainwater, distribution of clean water to the natural environment, mitigation of erosion and handling peak stormwater events. Including these in the design of the landscaping of new projects, helps build a comprehensive campus plan incrementally.
14.3 Goals & Targets
Table 14.1 lists the project goals and targets specifically related to the landscape and site. For a complete list of all the goals and targets for CIRS, refer to Section 4.0 Goals & Targets.
|3 - NET IMPACT||"Neutralize ecological impact on-site by having a net positive biomass and oxygen provided onsite. Regenerate ecosystems to attract local fauna (birds, bees, herons & butterflies). Eliminate on-site run-off."||"Existing site plant coverage was 44% grass and shrubs. The new site will have moreplant coverage (100% of which must be native/adaptive species) than the existing site.Increase local native fauna on-site. 100 per cent stormwater will be treated, used or infiltrated onsite.|
|4 - POSITIVE COMMUNITY IMPACT||Maximize sustainable contributions to the local community.|
|10 - STORMWATER MANAGEMENT||"100 per cent stormwater will be treated, used or infiltrated on-site. Water leaving the site should be as good or better quality than when it arrived.Zero net runoff from site. "||"Zero stormwater output from site. Clean all water used onsite, 100 per cent. Zero stormwater output from site.|
|22 - PUBLIC EDUCATION||"CIRS will disseminate sustainable design practice, knowledge and experience as widely as possible."|
Table 14.1 Goals and Targets for the Landscpae & Site.
The site and landscape at CIRS benefits the project in the following ways:
Increases the Intensity of Inhabitation
In addition to being the most recent addition to the campus sustainability precinct, CIRS increases the intensity of inhabitation on the site by maintaining previous functions and adding increased density and mix of uses. The project location is both highly visible and easily accessible to the campus community as well as outside visitors.
Manages Water Resources
The native plants and landscape strategies are climate specific and require no irrigation and minimal maintenance. Additionally, the landscape manages the flow of runoff from impervious surfaces, uses natural systems to prevent flooding and erosion, and provides a means for water and nutrients to be absorbed into the soil.
The landscape strategies and native plants were chosen to enhance habitat for local insects, birds and animals. The intention is to increase the ecological diversity on the campus and bring people into greater contact with the environment and complex ecologies.
Combines Beauty and Function
The landscape is a beautiful example of a functional natural system that provides multiple services for the site and the project, including water management and habitat creation. It illustrates an alternative sustainable approach to conventional strategies.
The site and landscape at CIRS was challenging for the project in the following ways:
Accommodating Building Program
The site for CIRS needed to be conveniently located for the many different departments associated with the interdisciplinary groups working within CIRS. The site also had to be large enough to accommodate the large Auditorium and campus storage functions that were added to the original lab and office program.
Designing a Small Landscape
The size of the building footprint relative to the size of the site restricted the available amount of space for landscape features and functions. The landscape areas were restricted to strips along the north, west and south sides of the building, separated by paved walkways.
Draining Water Safely
Hydro-geological conditions and UBC’s cliff top location make the site particularly prone to risk of flooding and erosion. The landscape had to be designed to address stormwater runoff in a sensitive as a well sustainable manner.
Moving Stormwater across Property Lines
The opportunity for using the adjacent property for stormwater management was fortunate for CIRS and only possible because all of the parcels are owned by UBC. For projects that are not located on a campus, project teams will have to review local zoning and building regulations and work closely with local authorities to get permission to move stormwater across a project’s legal boundaries.
14.7 Lessons Learned
The experience gained through the use of the rainwater to potable water system for CIRS provided valuable lessons to apply to future projects. Some key lessons are:
Create Beautiful, Small Solutions
The strategic combination of a number of small design strategies can have significant benefits to the project. Landscape design can be water efficient, beautiful and provide habitat on campus.
Look for Synergies
Think beyond the site boundary and combine programming requirements to intensify the function of the project. Look for collaborations with nearby programs, functions and services.
Choose a Prominent Site
Projects like CIRS that aspire to be catalysts for change should be located in prominent locations on campus to maximize the exposure of the project and its achievements to the campus population.
Additional lessons learned over the operational life of the building will be added at periodic intervals.