Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Headquarters Profile: Tree Yard Rain Garden

This is the first of three posts about our new headquarters at 3030 12th Street NE and our tree yard at 3015 12th Street NE in the Brookland neighborhood. We are excited about our new home, and we wanted to share with you some of the green features we have implemented.

The Casey Trees rain garden on the day of planting.

On a rainy day like today, one realizes that the District gets a huge amount of rain water. Where does that water go? In areas that are completely forested, like Rock Creek Park, stormwater gets absorbed into the ground, as a part of a natural process that supports life and filters pollutants from the water. But in the rest of the city, where buildings, sidewalks and roads take the place of water-absorbing trees and plants, it's a different story. Those millions of gallons of water need to flow somewhere, and the water that isn't absorbed by street trees and gardens goes to our sewer system as runoff. On average, even a half of an inch of water in a storm can cause excess water (and all of the pollutants carried with it) to overflow from the sewer system, directly into our waterways.

That is why we have installed a rain garden at our tree yard at 3015 12th Street NE across the street from our new office headquarters, transforming an abandoned gas station into an attractive staging area for our tree planting activities. Stormwater drains from the impervious paved area of the property to the rain garden, where the water is filtered in a simulated natural process, infiltrating into the ground instead of being directed to the sewer system. 

The goal is to intercept the "first flush," the runoff water containing the greatest concentration of pollutants. The rain garden spans the length of the 12th Street side of the property and features a wide diversity of plants and trees, including red osier dogwood, bald cypress, river birch, New England aster, sweetbay magnolia and switchgrass. The site hosts our tree planting crew's tools and equipment, and we keep up to 225 trees ready for planting on location.

We are making this effort and other similar efforts to reduce our environmental impact, showing what is possible with a small property in an urban environment.

The Casey Trees tree planting crew in action, next to the newly planted rain garden.

Read the media release about the move to our new headquarters, and stay tuned for more blog posts about the eco-friendly features of the site.

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