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Archive for Thursday, August 8, 2013

KU showing off sustainability program with parking lot

August 8, 2013

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The greenest parking lot on campus

To boost its sustainability cred, the revamped Lot 54 will include:

*Porous concrete to capture and recycle rainwater.

*Bioswales and a rain garden to filter pollutants from lot runoff.

*Added trees to boost water absorption and provide shade.

*Pavement with lighter pigmentation to prevent heat islands.

*LED lighting to cut energy costs.

*A layer made from ground-up bits of the previous surface to recycle it.

Work is underway on KU parking lot #54, located northwest of the intersection of Irving Road and Naismith Drive. The lot which is to the west of Murphy Hall is being reconstructed with permeable concrete that divert rainwater  to a series of rain gardens and bioswales to be planted with native vegetation.

Work is underway on KU parking lot #54, located northwest of the intersection of Irving Road and Naismith Drive. The lot which is to the west of Murphy Hall is being reconstructed with permeable concrete that divert rainwater to a series of rain gardens and bioswales to be planted with native vegetation.

A satellite image shows Parking Lot 54, near Green Gall and west of Murphy Hall, before renovation began in the first week of June. Photo courtesy of Kansas University.

A satellite image shows Parking Lot 54, near Green Gall and west of Murphy Hall, before renovation began in the first week of June. Photo courtesy of Kansas University.

Schematics show plans for the revamped parking lot, which will include added vegetation to soak up rain water, as well as a rain garden at the south end. Photo courtesy of Kansas University.

Schematics show plans for the revamped parking lot, which will include added vegetation to soak up rain water, as well as a rain garden at the south end. Photo courtesy of Kansas University.

Sometimes to build sustainably you have to bulldoze something first.

So it is with Kansas University’s Lot 54, a parking lot between Naismith Drive and Green Hall, which houses the School of Law. Construction workers have ripped it up, recycled its parts, and are preparing to build an entirely new sort of parking lot in its place.

With a water-recycling system, rain garden, energy efficient lights and other green features built into the design, the $1.8 million overhaul of Lot 54 will, officials hope, transform it into a model of eco-friendliness and sustainable construction for parking projects to come.

With work expected to last through the end of September, faculty and staff accustomed to parking in Lot 54 have been moved to nearby lots, including the Allen Field House garage. Graduate students, who in the past were waitlisted for additional spots in Lot 54, will have to find somewhere farther away to park.

The lot was badly in need of some sort of makeover. Paul Graves, deputy director for Construction and Design Management at KU, said that before demolition began in early June, Lot 54’s surface had “deteriorated way past its useful life.”

Its asphalt was broken and cracked, in need of repair. The lot itself contributed to a traffic jumble at the busy intersection of Irving Hill Road and Naismith Drive. One entryway was so close to the intersection that getting in and out created headaches for drivers. And with two entryways on Irving Hill, neither of them near to the entry for the Field House parking garage, drivers could easily get confused about whose turn it was to turn where.

Putting the "park" back in parking lot

Now as the pavement has been ripped apart and ground into gravel. In its place are mounds of dirt and muddy trenches full of water from the weekend’s rain. While construction sites typically fill up with giant puddles and tiny ponds after storms pass, the new design for the lot is specifically tailored to catch the rain.

Designed by Kansas City engineering company TranSystems, the retooled parking lot will use a special cement with built-in pores that let water seep through instead of immediately running off into the gutters or evaporating. From there, basins under the lot will collect rain water. Graves said those basins will be big enough to hold the water from a 100-year flood, or about 8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

In addition to absorbing water, the cement also will be also lighter in pigment than the old asphalt. That means it will collect less heat in the summertime, reducing what’s called the “heat island effect.” Heat islands are bubbles of hot air hovering over large paved areas that can raise energy costs and trap air pollutants.

Captured rainwater will nourish trees planted around the lot. And there will be more of those trees, too, not only to suck up the water but also to shade the parking lot, helping to cool it. The extra vegetation also will make the area more of a “park-like setting,” Graves said.

Water will also collect in a rain garden at the southern end of the lot. The rain garden will resemble and function as a tiny wetland, with grasses and other plants soaking in water and filtering out pollutants and nutrients that collect on the pavement before they can escape to the sewer system and make it into the watershed.

The costs, and savings, of going "sustainable"

All these extra features come with high initial costs, some of which will be offset by funds meant to encourage sustainable building. A $450,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will help defray some expense. The KU Revolving Green Loan Fund has committed money for the new LED lights, and the city will help fund the replacement of the sewer lines near the parking lot.

KU Parking and Transit, which typically pays for parking lot renovations, will kick in $500,000 and the university will cover the remaining balance.

Over time the lot will reduce maintenance costs as well. Catching rainwater will save on irrigation costs. Donna Hultine, director of KU Parking and Transit, said she hopes the cement pavement will last longer and require fewer repairs than the asphalt that paved the original lot and other lots around campus. The rain garden will also save money in fees that the university has to pay the city for its runoff pollution.

Time will tell if the cost-saving features will offset initial expenses. Hultine said her office has to wait and see if it can afford to apply Lot 54’s sustainable design to renovations of future lots.

At the very least, the lot will make for a nice show-and-tell piece. Graves said its proximity to the Field House and major campus trafficways will help the university “showcase in a very meaningful way” the steps it is taking to implement KU’s campus-wide sustainability plan.

Comments

Nikonman 8 months, 1 week ago

The KU parking and Transit office is downhill from the new lot. I wonder if the water would go down hill into the KU parking and transit offices during a heavy rain? Also, the freeze and thaw cycle will ruin the new lot in a few years.

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smileydog 8 months, 2 weeks ago

They must clean the concrete regularly with water and vacuum the surface. I wonder what a cost/benefit analysis would say? But, it's only money from a bottomless pit, so who cares?!

1

Liberty275 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Great project. I wonder though, if the concrete is porous enough to pass water, what happens when the water freezes?

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KU_cynic 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Why couldn't they have started this early enough to be ready by the start of the fall semester? This is going to be a mess.

Will it be done by the first football game? By the first BB game?

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ChuckFInster 8 months, 2 weeks ago

$1.8 Mil for a parking lot. Higher education Lol

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Tammy Copp-Barta 8 months, 2 weeks ago

But will we gain or lose parking?!?!?

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crafty 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I just hope they wait and see if this really is as cost effective as they think before they start tearing up lots all over campus. Also, I'm curious as to how many parking stalls will be lost. I guess none of it really matters...knowing our KU administrators, they'll put whatever spin they want to on it to make themselves look good.

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nick_s 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Damned if you do, damned if you dont. I cant say whether there will be serious cost savings down the road, that has yet to be determined. I can say that the lot was in serious need of repairs as of 5 years ago when I attended though.

So should they have just thrown together another shoddy parking lot? I for one am glad that they seem to have actually thought it through & are building something that will hopefully reduce the total cost of ownership over its lifetime, as well as having a positive impact on the surrounding area. I will also note that those whose feathers are ruffled by this are turning a blind eye to our current state & local governments own fiscal irresponsibility. Cant have it both ways.

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LogicMan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Better already be porous! Look at all the rain headed our direction this a.m.

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Pheps 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Sustainability works until other peoples money runs out. I would think, the sustainability theorem, would first be applied to the use of other people's money, before applying it to rain water?

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chicago95 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Please provide a more detailed and higher resolution design drawing (or a link) showing showing the drainage plan.

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CommonSense741776 8 months, 2 weeks ago

It's tough to take complaints of under-funding seriously while the University's doing projects like this. If the University can afford more than essential, functionally-adequate parking lot maintenance, then it looks like there's actually more than enough money on the Hill. If I were Governor, and I saw this, I'd propose additional tax and budget cuts until I saw tough choices, like between essential maintenance and classroom instruction, being made.

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