Feature Article - April 2010
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Shades of Green

Eco-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Facilities

By Dawn Klingensmith

Tree Huggers

The parks and recreation department in Grapevine, Texas, bent over backwards to incorporate environment-friendly features in its Oak Grove Ball Field Complex renovation project, but though LEED certification was discussed, it was not pursued. "It was an existing complex that we basically were going to bulldoze and rebuild from the ground up," said parks superintendent Kevin Mitchell.

But a lot of heavy lifting occurred before those bulldozers moved in. Oak Grove got its name for a reason—the presence of scores upon scores of old-growth oak trees.

"Right in the center of the complex we had these huge trees," Mitchell said. In fact, when tallied, "We had 200 trees that were in the way."

The parks department spent a quarter of a million dollars to set up a nursery, and each tree was uprooted and moved with a crane to the temporary setting or to another park. When construction was finished about a year later, the trees were replanted throughout the complex. Boasting many other green features, the complex in March earned the Texas Recreation and Parks' Design Excellence Award.

In Clermont, Ky., the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest earned LEED Platinum for its visitor center, which also is an ode of sorts to trees. "Imagine a building like a tree" was the instruction given to the design team, who incorporated trellises, arbors, pergolas and a vegetated roof into the structure. The building is assembled mainly from cypress wood sourced from donated H.J. Heinz pickle vats. Though the containers had been in use for more than a century, to offset the use of wood, Bernheim planted 256 cypress trees in the arboretum. "Further-more," said education director Claude Stephens, "our building is designed for deconstruction so that one hundred years in the future that wood might still be usable for some new purpose."