Students Design Fine Parking Lot for Sustainable Water Management

finelotdesignDesigning a parking lot sounds simple, but when the lot sits on a hillside in a sensitive watershed, and when the layers of soil below it are likely to be unstable if saturated with water, it becomes an interesting problem. If you further add in campus building codes and cost restrictions, then coming up with an effective design is truly a challenge.

A team of seniors in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the L.C. Smith College of Engineering at SU took on this challenge. Led by project manager Larisa Pechenyy, they came up with innovative designs for managing storm water on site while accommodating the need for parking on campus. Their design includes tree planting and storm water planters to take up some of the water, two vegetated swales to allow the water to infiltrate the ground, and a gabeon retaining wall to deal with soil stability issues.

finelotdesign2The team called itself Salt City Consulting and included, in addition to Pechenyy, Michael Kelly, James McGorty, Marcel Young-Scaggs, and William Finch. They selected the project from a list of real-world design problems assembled by Professor David Chandler. Because the site was on campus, they consulted regularly with Jack Osinski from Campus Design, Planning and Construction. Although actual plans for construction of the lot had already been approved before the students made their recommendations, Jack was impressed by their creativity in finding green solutions to some of the site’s challenges.

Pechenyy says the group learned a lot about the complex nature of campus infrastructure development. “Funding is the biggest factor that prohibits green design,” she says. “[But] the campus is thinking green and sustainability is on the minds of those who are in charge of campus planning, design and construction. I see a promising future for sustainability development across campus.”