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2023 Yearbook of Engineering Achievement: Environmental/Sustainability

2023 Yearbook of Engineering Achievement: Environmental/Sustainability

Ballston Wetland Park | Arlington County Department of Environmental Services

Arlington, Virginia

Project Team: Arlington County, RKK Civil Engineering (design), Environmental Quality Resources (construction), Wetland Studies and Solutions (construction management), StormRax (trash control device), WATERGOAT (floating trash control barrier), Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (State and Local Assistance Fund grant)

Start Date: 1 December 2021

Completion Date: 18 August 2023

Background: The Ballston Pond was originally designed and constructed as a stormwater facility to collect and slow runoff from Interstate 66 when the highway was built, but, over the years, the pond has filled up with sediments deposited by stormwater runoff.  Retrofitting the Ballston Wetland Park was a high-priority project in Arlington County’s Stormwater Management Program, and they were able to seek community input through a stakeholder advisory committee as well as with several community meetings to provide input to the design process.  Additionally, retrofitting the pond to provide higher quality water treatment helps the county comply with the municipal separate storm sewer system permit and contributes to restoring the Chesapeake Bay.  The County sought community input through a stakeholder advisory committee and with several community meetings to provide input to the design process, guiding the eventual selection of the preferred wetland design. 

Impact: Lubber Run flows through the wetland on its way to Four Mile Run.  Cleared of sediment and now capable of taking excess rainwater from 450 surrounding acres, the retrofitted wetland system improves stormwater flow and filtering–plus capturing trash–while also serving as a wildlife refuge and pastoral commons within the Ballston “urban village” setting.  The park expands Arlington County’s ability to meet Chesapeake Bay Watershed regulations while cultivating native plants and providing new boardwalk areas and fresh interpretive designs.  Community input from the engagement process helped to guide the selection of new features at the wetland park such as trash collection devices, an expanded viewing platform, interpretive signs, and wildlife habitat.

Technical Aspects:

  • Stormwater pollutant removal in a constructed stormwater wetland
  • Sediment collection in the pond forebay–allowing for easier maintenance and removal
  • Trash and debris collection in StormRax trash rack and WATERGOAT floating trash barrier trash collection devices

Coeymans Solar Farm | Hunt-EAS

Coeymans, New York

Project Team: Daniel Yanosh, Casey Kurz, Ben Wolfling

Start Date: 19 March 2021

Completion Date: 19 November 2023

Accreditation and Awards: Utility Scale Renewables

Background: In the Spring of 2021 Hunt-EAS was contacted by Fusion Industries, to perform civil engineering on a 40 MW Solar farm to be located in Coeymans. This project would go on to be one of the largest renewable energy projects in the state to date, encompassing an area of 241.5 +/- acres and presenting a variety of environmental and civil challenges. In order to build this enormous renewable energy collector, Hunt-EAS needed to ensure that the project would conserve the soil it is located on, prevent impacts to the existing watersheds, and avoid disturbance of natural and cultural resources.  The success of this project and its ability to be constructed can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of Hunt-EAS staff and their ability to work closely with the State Authorities & Construction Contractors to move this project forward quickly & effectively for the project sponsor Hecate Energy

Impact: Coeymans Solar Farm will provide new renewable energy to New Yorkers while protecting and preserving clean air, water quality, and soil resources.  This 40-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) solar facility is capable of safely supplying 73,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year to power over 10,000 average households.  It delivers significant revenue to local governments and boosts local economies–creating over 140 construction jobs, and adding commerce for local businesses, and Reduces reliance on fossil fuels, avoiding greenhouse gas emissions (estimated to offset nearly 55,825 tons of CO2 per year — equivalent to taking over 12,136 average cars off the road).

Technical Aspects:

  • Mitigation efforts to ensure the preservation of soils on site, enhance farmland for future generations, and protect the natural water cycle that drives the local ecosystem
  • Design features ensuring valuable natural resources are protected while maximizing the potential energy generated from the sun to power the grid

Exploration Green Detention Facility | Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN)

Houston, Texas

Project Team: LAN & SWA Group

Start Date: 1 July 2013

Completion Date: 1 September 2023

Accreditation and Awards: Association of Water Board Directors, Texas- 2021 Project Award for Public Infrastructure ACEC Texas, Gold Medal- 2020 Engineering Excellence Awards Houston-Galveston Area Council- 2019 Our Great Region 2040 Excellence Award Urban Land Institute- 2019 Development of Distinction and People’s Choice Award National Wildlife Federation- Allied World Resilience Award National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies- 2018 Stormwater Management Green Infrastructure

Background: Located in the heart of Clear Lake residential community near Houston, the visionary project of Exploration Green epitomizes a successful transition from a once-popular golf course to a sprawling 880.6-acre-foot, sustainable detention facilities, fulfilling roles of flood control, enhancing water quality, and providing a verdant natural habitat for wildlife and recreation space for residents. The transition from a golf course to a pragmatic, environment-centric space stemmed from a compelling need for improved drainage control and flood management, was driven by the residents and expertly addressed by the Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA).   The initiative’s backbone, Exploration Green, was divided into five meticulous phases and conceived with community input, unifying expert planning and genuine residential needs. Planned by SWA Group architects and designed and managed by the engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc., the project metamorphosed into a massive nature park, encompassing five substantial in-line wet bottom detention ponds, each capable of holding approximately 100 million gallons of stormwater, crucially mitigating flood risks.

Impact: Community involvement was paramount from inception to fruition, with a series of town hall meetings anchoring the project’s development to the desires and needs of the residents. The resultant multifaceted benefits impact not only the local community but set a precedent for nationwide flood management and environmental conservation.  Environmentally, Exploration Green, of the 153 acres of natural habitat, 14 acres is dedicated wetlands. Socially, the project transcends mere utility to become a hub for community interaction and recreation, with ADA-accessible trails, sports fields, and spaces that promote communal activities, while also serving as a verdant connector for essential community spots like schools and religious institutions.

Technical Aspects: 

  • Excavation of 2,440,000 cubic yards of material across five distinct phases
  • Strategic blend of engineering and ecology to pursue the re-establishment of a native habitat through extensive research into native grasses and seedbed preparation
  • Installation of culverts and re-evaluation of soil management strategies 

Multi-Use Pathway Phase 1 and Wetlands Trail Boardwalk | McKim & Creed

Gulf Breeze, Florida

Project Team: Patrick Jehle, PE Glenn Halstead, PE Jonathan Green, PE A. Emmett Anderson III, PE Joel Moulin, PLA Taylor Henninge, PSM Jarod Burch Timothy Grigsby Chase Hambright Joshua Osborne Gerald Potter Chris Striba Zachery Taylor Alexis Ward

Start Date: 6 July 2019

Completion Date: 1 December 2022

Background: To create a sustainable future and achieve the goals outlined in its Master Plan and Most Livable City Plan, the City of Gulf Breeze needed creative, cost-effective solutions to implement multi-modal improvements within the existing right-of-way of the City’s primary collector ‘loop’ roadway. The project included surveying, engineering, and landscape architecture services to design a new 10-foot-wide multi-use pathway along the Fairpoint Drive/Shoreline Drive loop, approximately four miles in length, that supports multi-modal transportation for bikes, carts, scooters, and other wheeled modes of transport in this active area of Gulf Breeze.  To better understand the impact to all residents of Gulf Breeze, multiple community outreach efforts were conducted to educate citizens about the project and gather public input early in the project’s development, such that the input could truly influence the final design.  This project also included intersection safety improvements at side streets and critical mid-block crossing locations, along with rehabilitation and upgrade of an existing 5-foot-wide sidewalk to provide an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant path for pedestrian foot traffic.  A separate pile-supported wood boardwalk was designed to traverse across low lying wetlands in nearby Shoreline Park, providing interconnectivity between residential neighborhoods and the public park as well as a new public beach access along Santa Rosa Sound.

Impact: The project outcomes that benefit the community includes enhanced capacity for collection and infiltration of stormwater runoff within the City’s right-of-way, the inclusion of twenty xeriscape gardens along the Multi-Use Pathway to highlight and enhance the entrances to various neighborhoods along the route, and highlighting the diversity of abundant flora and fauna within the Shoreline Park South ecosystem.  It provides environmental education opportunities for local elementary, middle, and high school students while also attracting ecotourism and providing increased interconnectivity between local neighborhoods and businesses.

Technical Aspects:

  • MoDaC Mobile Data Collection was utilized, incorporating LiDAR and 360-degree videos and photographs in combination with conventional survey techniques to not only provide the necessary data points, but to generate maps, exhibits, and interactive workstations for Public Input Meetings
  • Side Street Intersection Safety Upgrades
  • Sidewalk Rehabilitation