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Feature Article - April 2018

Still Going Green

Sustainability Plans & Equipment Help Create Eco-Friendly Facilities

By Deborah L. Vence


Design Innovations

When it comes to innovations in design, Soderman said modern facility design has incorporated a wide variety of sustainable options.

"Large windows with reflective glass increase natural lighting in a space, while rejecting the sun's heat," he said. "Paints, glues, custodial products all are made to have a lower impact on the environment and should always be considered."

At Brookside Gardens, an M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks facility, a 25,000-gallon capacity underground cistern was recently installed as part of the renovation of one of their greenhouses. Rainwater is collected from the roof of the greenhouse and is stored underground in the cistern to be used for on-site watering of plants.

"At a facility that relies on water resources to support the beautiful gardens the community loves, this is a great example of conserving water by reducing demand on potable water resources," Aparicio said.

In addition, "rain barrels and cisterns are being installed, where practical, to collect rooftop runoff for reuse in a variety of applications from supplying water for nearby landscape installations, to supporting some of the water needs of our asphalt operations," she added.

Pope Farm Nursery, another M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks facility, has been using a drip irrigation system for watering plants since 2011 as a strategy to improve efficiency, reduce water consumption and promote plant health. In 2016, the drip irrigation system was used to efficiently water nearly 5,000 trees and more than 500 shrubs, and the plants were later used in reforestations and other planting and landscaping projects on M-NCPPC parkland.

Also, M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks currently is working on a new facility, Maydale Nature Center, which, when completed, will be a small-scale net-zero facility with features such as rainwater harvesting, greywater systems, solar panels and other sustainable building and design elements.

"This facility will be used to provide the community with environmental activities and educational programming," Aparicio said.

Meanwhile, Thompson noted that a recently opened state-of-the-art commercial greenhouse in Tacoma has its own weather station set up to automatically adjust interior temperature and ventilation systems as needed for optimum plant growth.

"Separate water lines are used for irrigation and fertilization, saving water that otherwise would be needed to clean out a single line," he said.

Finally, Avina noted that some of the best innovations he has seen are the "expanded use of solar panels—especially in sunnier climates like here in California. It's great to see businesses and families using them as a way to create alternative power."

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