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Pashek Associates Sustainability Policy

As Landscape Architects, Community Planners, and Parks and Recreation Practitioners, we have long been in the business of working with natural processes, improving efficiencies, and developing innovative ideas for the pashek associates think greengood of the community. We have continually searched for the most sustainable solutions in design and planning. We believe it is the right thing to do.

As a firm, we strive to become sustainable through the following actions:

  • Promote sustainability through design and planning

– Spec sustainable products that are durable, reusable, recyclable, made with recycled content, use less packaging, and/or made from renewable resources.

– Use stormwater Best Management Practices.

– Use smart growth, transit oriented development, and other sustainable strategies in community planning and urban design.

– Protect and/or restore the environment by designing with ecological and natural processes in mind

– Use other sustainable sites principles found in LEED and the Sustainable Sites Initiative

  • Use a democratic design and planning process to support the needs of whole communities

– Ensure that all meeting participants are equally heard regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or age

  • Educate our clients and friends about the importance of sustainability

– Promote sustainable design solutions to clients by educating about their benefits

  • Implement sustainable actions in the workplace and at home in our communities

– Follow the Pashek Associates’ sustainable office policies in order to reduce energy, water, air pollution, and waste.

– Set an example in our individual neighborhoods / communities by following the same policies at home.

Pashek Asscoiates is building a culture of responsibility that encourages every employee to ask the questions that lead to more sustainable processes and practices, and help our firm support a sustainable future.

Pashek Associates Leading the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge in Small Business Category

Bike-Friendly-Employer-224x300The Pittsburgh Green Workplace challenge enables businesses to participate in a friendly challenge program where they can receive recognition for their sustainable actions and achievements.

Pashek Associates is leading 12 businesses in the small business category (less than 50 people).

According to Valerie Patrick, PhD and Sustainability Coordinator for Bayer Corporation, “sustainability is a way of thinking and applies to every aspect of our work.” We couldn’t agree with her more.

Pashek Associates received points by tracking utility bills using an EPA website, being a bike friendly business, having a Prius for a corporate car, and planting native plants on the roof of their building. Green office policies of using washable cups and recycling also contributed to the firm’s leadership position in the challenge. Next up is an energy audit to begin reducing energy demand and our carbon footprint.

For more information, or if you are interested in signing up for the Challenge, please see the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge Website.

A Green Roof for a Green Convention Center

The Gold LEED Certified convention center in Pittsburgh is becoming even greener. This fall, a green roof is being constructed above the loading dock and is fully accessible to event goers.

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In the summer of 2010, as planning and design was being completed for fixing a roof leak, the Sports and Exhibition Authority realized they had a golden opportunity to install and showcase a green roof that is readily accessible from meeting rooms on the third floor.

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Pashek Associates was hired to design the new roof to include outdoor gathering and event space along with planting areas. The final design includes a meandering blue pathway resembling a stream, keeping with the theme of the existing architecture and meant to remind visitors of the green roof’s stormwater benefits. The path separates two contrasting types of planting areas. The first is a typical sedum planting done on most extensive green roofs. The second consists of native perennials, providing wildlife habitat. The simplicity of the design allows the building’s sculptural cable bundles to remain a focal point.

Stay tuned for photos of the ongoing construction to be completed this fall!

Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge

Today is the official launch of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge.  Pashek Associates is entering the one-year competition in order to build upon other green efforts such as our green roof and office bike fleet.  logo-300x71The goal is to reduce our energy and resource use, and to beat out the friendly competition to become the greenest company in Pittsburgh.  Check out the Press Release for more information.

Permaculture, Community Revitalization, and Sustainable Design

A small, but growing, group of neighbors in East Liberty, called the Borland Garden Cooperative, have come together in order to develop a sustainable, multi-purpose urban garden that eliminates vacancy, adds vibrancy and biodiversity, and serves as an educational tool and community gathering space.

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Funded by the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, Sprout Fund, and the Sarah Heinz Foundation, the Borland Garden Cooperative partnered with East Liberty Development Incorporated, Pittsburgh Permaculture, and GTECH Strategies to develop a unique urban garden model. Pashek Associates was hired to develop a master plan for the garden in which energy and water will be captured, materials will be recycled and reused, and everyone who works in the garden shares tools and the harvest.

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The group envisions the garden as a place in which the surrounding community can come together to learn, share resources, work together, grow together, and share in the bounty. Some of the unique features of the garden include an urban food forest, traditional vegetable garden, water cistern, bio-shelter, rain gardens, chicken coop, outdoor kitchen and gathering space, and a labyrinth.

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Chimney swift habitat helps offer pest management as well as doubling as educational signage. A windspire serves as a sculptural focal point as well as powering lighting. Bee and butterfly habitat promotes pollination within the garden. A sensory garden entices the public to walk up to, smell, touch, taste, see and interact with the garden. Compost bins help recycle chicken manure, garden waste, as well as compostable materials from adjacent neighbors.

The master planning process is almost finished but that does not mean the work is done. The Cooperative will be out in full force to prepare for the installation of the rain gardens, cistern, street trees, and urban food forest in the fall.

DCNR’s Stormwater BMP Guide for Parks

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has recently asked us, along with some other LA’s in the State, to review and comment on their new Stormwater BMP Guide for Parks.  The guide is for grantees to use and apply to their sites.  Below is the final version:

Rain Garden- an excavated shallow surface depression planted with specially selected native vegetation to treat and capture runoff.  Rain gardens should be located in well-drained soils.  They allow stormwater to be absorbed by plants and infiltrated into the groundwater.

How can you apply this in your park?  A simple rain garden can be located near a walkway, parking lot, court area, or other paved surface to absorb stormwater runoff.  Native vegetation that thrives in wet conditions should be planted to enhance the water absorption capabilities of the rain garden.   Additional benefits of native vegetation may include creating habitat areas for wildlife and birds and aesthetic enhancement of the site. This type of design is inviting to park visitors and educational signage can illustrate how a simple rain garden design can be created at home to reduce stormwater runoff.

Pervious Pavement- consists of a permeable pavement (surface course) underlain by a uniformly-graded stone bed which provides temporary storage for stormwater runoff and promotes infiltration.  The surface course may consist of porous asphalt, porous concrete, or various porous structural pavers laid on uncompacted soil.

How can you apply this in your park?  Pervious pavement can be used in parking areas, on basketball and tennis courts, for trails and walkways, etc.  Use of pervious pavement is not practical for wooded or flood prone areas due to sediment and leaf-litter filling the porous voids of the pavement.   In open areas, use of pervious pavement provides the added benefit of managing stormwater beneath the surface, minimizing disruption of additional areas for the management of stormwater and the costs associated with construction of a stand-alone stormwater management facility.  For large parking lots consider a mix of surface types that include turf parking with a gravel base, aggregate paving for traffic aisles, and pervious paving for parking stalls.

Riparian Areas- a permanent area of trees and shrubs located adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands.  Riparian forests are the most beneficial type of buffer for they provide ecological and water quality benefits.

How can you apply this in your park?  Enhance the areas adjacent to rivers, streams, wetlands and ponds with native vegetation or create a “no mow zone” with meadow grasses that is at least 35’ wide on all sides.  Be sure to include public access points where appropriate so park visitors can enjoy these water resources.  Interpretative signs can describe the benefits of riparian areas and describe the wildlife habitat areas created.

Vegetated Swale- a broad, shallow channel densely planted with a variety of trees, shrubs, and/or grasses.  Vegetative swales should be promoted in lieu of storm piping to convey stormwater naturally, promoting infiltration, reducing runoff volume, and filtering pollutants.

How can you apply this in your park?  A vegetated swale is an economical alternative to storm piping and may be constructed between a street, parking lot or commercial/industrial area and the park to provide a natural stormwater infiltration area.  The park can become a solution to an urban stormwater issue.

Naturalized Infiltration Basin- an earthen structure constructed either by impoundment of a natural depression or excavation of existing soil that provides temporary storage and infiltration of stormwater runoff.

How can you apply this in your park?  Existing and new stormwater management basins can be naturalized with native plantings to aid in faster infiltration and to provide wildlife habitat.  Basins can be planted with native wildflowers and warm season grasses that are attractive and low maintenance.

Floodplain and Wetland Restoration- tries to mimic the interaction of groundwater, stream base flow, and vegetative root systems- key components of a stream corridor under pre-settlement (pre-1600s) conditions.  The interaction among these elements provides multiple benefits, including the filtering of sediments and nutrients through retention of frequent high flows on the floodplain, removal of nitrates from groundwater, reduction of peak flow rates, groundwater recharge/infiltration, reduced erosion, control non native invasive species, and an increase of storage and reduction of flood elevations during higher flows.

How can you apply this in your park?  Floodplains should remain natural without constructed facilities; however low-impact accessible paths may be included to invite park visitors to walk among native vegetation and view wildlife.    Existing wetland should be protected and restored to enhance their ecological benefits such as increasing water quality, reducing stormwater impacts, and providing critical habitat for a variety of species.  Boardwalks and viewing decks can provide access to wetland areas for environmental education.  Educational signage can be installed to teach park visitors the critical role floodplains and wetlands play in the environment.

Reforestation- replant the site with trees.

How can you apply this in your park?  Reforestation can occur in both natural areas and developed areas of a park.  Riparian corridors, floodplains, wetlands, meadows, and forest edges can all benefit from reforestation.  Reforestation and planting of trees near picnic areas, pavilions, spectator areas, playgrounds, benches, trails, and  other built features will enhance the environment, provide shade, and create a sense of place within a park.

Extensive Green Roof- the most popular green roof for smaller structures and existing structures.  Its lightweight attributes minimize the amount of structural changes needed to create it.

How can you apply this in your park?  Extensive green roofs may be constructed on park kiosks, pavilions, environmental education centers, sheds and community recreation centers.

Warm Season Meadows- conversion of a turf area into a meadow.  Native species should be selected for their minimum need of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.  Minimize mowing to two times per year.

How can you apply this in your park?  Meadows can be integrated into most park sites; particularly along riparian corridors and, forest edges and within un-programmed open space.  Meadows diversify the land cover; attract butterflies, birds, and wildlife; and reduce on-going maintenance costs associated with mowing.  Trails can be created through the wildflower and/or warm season grass meadow and bluebird boxes can be put up to create wildlife viewing opportunities.  Educational signage can be installed to present the environmental and ecological benefits meadows provide vs. turf.

Runoff Capture and Reuse- encompasses a wide variety of water storage techniques designed to “capture” precipitation, hold it for a period of time, and reuse it.  These storage techniques may include cisterns, underground tanks, above-ground vertical storage tanks, rain barrels or other systems.

How can you apply this in your park?  Rain barrels and cisterns can be used in parks to capture roof runoff from pavilions, environmental education centers or community recreation centers to then be used to irrigate gardens and water plants, flush toilets, storage for firefighting needs, etc.

You can find more information about Stormwater BMPs in the PA Department of Environmental Protection Stormwater BMP Manual here.

Project Corner: Whitehall Road Regional Park

We are proud to highlight this month’s featured project, Whitehall Road Regional Park Master Plan.  Located in Centre County, near State College, this future regional park is designed with sustainability and accessibility in mind.  The final master plan reflects the following project goals:

  • Environment – Conserve and enhance natural conditions and features.
  • Community – Respond to conditions and needs of adjacent and regional community.
  • Program – Accommodate a logical mix and quantity of park uses.
  • Economics – Maximize relationship between cost and benefits to community.
  • Identity – Create a dignified and beautiful park space that improves over time.
The 100-acre park has to meet the growing demand for sports fields, while also accommodating those more interested in passive recreation such as walking, picnicking, and gardening.  The master plan includes soccer fields, softball and baseball fields, tennis courts, a football field, a lacrosse field, playgrounds, picnic shelters, walking trails, open space play, a dog park, and community gardens.  The existing site is open with dramatic distant views. The park is organized to respond to these conditions by creating a rectilinear pattern of outdoor rooms that connect directly to the adjacent agricultural context.  Proposed rows of trees extend the existing forest block to provide a pattern for the roads, walkways and athletic fields.
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Proposed stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) include rain gardens, permeable paving, vegetated swales, infiltration trenches, vegetated buffer strips, green roofs, and cisterns to name a few. The key is to work with natural ecological processes instead of against them.
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Located at the bottom of the hill, this cistern collects extra runoff for use in the community gardens
Located at the bottom of the hill, this cistern collects extra runoff for use in the community gardens