- Campus Sustainability Initiative
Johnson County Community College (JCCC) set out lead its students and the community in reducing polluted stormwater runoff. The college requires large parking areas that are managed using traditional stormwater methods. JCCC wanted to change this pattern and create a system of bioengineered areas that would treat and detain stormwater before leaving the campus. These areas would improve the water quality by significantly reducing the pollutant concentration of runoff. The project received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act along with a self-imposed green fee by the student body to develop campuswide sustainability initiatives.
JCCC’s goals for this project were to improve water quality without losing parking space and make the project a learning laboratory for students and the public. The design team of BBN Architects and Burns & McDonnell sought to implement a series of best management practices (BMPs) dispersed throughout the parking areas. The design team identified the ideal locations to intercept the current storm system and introduce BMPs. These BMPs capture the first flush, which is the part of the rainfall that carries 90 percent of the oil, grease, nutrients, petroleum, hydrocarbons and heavy metals.
Five constructed BMPs were designed to meet the goals of JCCC: bioswales, bioretention cells, manufactured filtration units, a forbay, and a vegetated submerged bed. Curb cuts were installed in key areas to divert runoff into the constructed BMPs. Within and surrounding the constructed BMPs are native grasses and perennial wild flowers that promote infiltration into the soil and require less fertilizer and harmful herbicides than traditional turf grass. These species are grouped into either xeric plants that thrive in dry conditions, or mesic plants, which can thrive in transitional areas that are both dry and wet. More than 56,000 plants were installed over 2.5 acres. As the native grasses and wild flowers mature, they will provide critical habitat for a variety of wildlife such as earth worms, small rodents, rabbits, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, dragon flies, hawks, owls and songbirds.
Students and facility can now test the water quality regularly to measure the effectiveness of each component of the system. It is estimated that these will capture 90 percent of sediments and 60 percent to 80 percent of chemicals from the parking lots in lieu of flowing downstream in to the local streams. Not only does this project reduce the amount of harmful chemicals entering local streams, but it creates a memorable demonstration and an outdoor laboratory for the students and the general public. “This project is an example of the college’s strategic goal of turning the campus where possible into a sustainable, learning laboratory,” said Jay Antle, executive director for JCCC’s Center for Sustainability, “Students from a variety of disciplines will interact with the project whether it be water quality testing in Environmental Science, studying the plantings in Horticulture, or just enjoying the outdoor classroom at the retention basin.”
- Constructed wetland
- Bioretention cell
- Rain garden
- StormTreat unit
- Pervious paving
- Trails and education learning stations