UT Arlington Receives Sustainability Certification for Landscape

The announcement acknowledges UT Arlington’s commitment to sustainability as an integral part of College Park District, an entertainment, living and shopping development spanning more than 20 acres that is helping revitalize downtown Arlington.

“This designation shows that UT Arlington is on the cutting-edge of sustainable practices, not just in our buildings, but all across campus,” said Meghna Tare, UT Arlington’s director of sustainability. “The Green is a place to enjoy nature and to learn about how to preserve the natural environment.”

The Sustainable Sites Initiative, also known as SITES™, is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden. The goal is to provide a ratings system for landscape design that is similar to the popular U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED designation.

With the help of design and sustainability experts, the SITES partners established a list of guidelines and performance benchmarks in 2009. Worldwide, more than 150 pilot projects – including The Green at College Park – have been working toward initial certification since May 2010.

“This is a very rigorous process,” said David Hopman, an associate professor of landscape architecture in UT Arlington’s School of Architecture who, along with faculty research associate Sonal Parmar, led the efforts to achieve SITES pilot project certification. “You not only have to say what you’re going to do, you then have to measure what you’re doing and show that you’ve accomplished it.”

The Green at College Park opened in March 2011 and includes 2.6 acres southeast of College Park Center, the new 7,000-seat special events venue. Through specialized soil, native plants and innovative design concepts, the park helps reduce storm water runoff from College Park Center by more than 25 percent. It filters 80 percent of the suspended solids out of the water before it flows toward flood-prone Johnson Creek.

The Green also contains several recycled features, such as a walkway made from recycled beer bottles and large shade structures made from recycled metal.

Arlington-based Schrickel, Rollins and Associates provided a team of landscape architects, engineers and architects that developed the project from master planning through construction. It was funded through a North Central Texas Council of Governments grant in partnership with the City of Arlington and UT Arlington.

Janna Tidwell, lead designer on the project and landscape architect/associate at Schrickel, Rollins, said UT Arlington was an enthusiastic partner in the project and allowed her firm to incorporate new products and concepts.

“A lot of times we have to kind of sell clients on these ideas, and we didn’t have to do that with UT Arlington,” she said. “Now, probably each week someone gets in touch with us and wants to know about something we did on the project. So it’s really reaching out into the community and becoming an example.”

The two other SITES pilot projects certified this week were Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park in Tennessee and The Novus International Headquarters in Missouri.

The Green at College Park is expected to play a significant role also in the University’s application for LEED Gold certification for the College Park Center development. Visit www.utacollegepark.com to learn more about College Park Center.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,439 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

Jan. 25, 2012, UT Arlington
Kristin Sullivan