EEAC News

9/24/2008

EEAC VISITS THE QUEENS BOTANICAL GARDEN

EEAC MEETS AT THE QUEENS BOTANICAL GARDEN

Our first meeting and event of the year took place mid September at the Queens Botanical Garden. (Special thanks to Patty Kleinberg for hosting us!) The meetings we hold at other sites (known as hybrid meetings) around the city bring us together to learn new things and support the work of our colleagues.

We had a very nice turn out, and Gennadyi Gurman from the Education Department gave us a very informative tour of the new Administration Building. These new green buildings and sustainable landscapes at the Queens Botanical Garden work with nature to create sustainable systems that promote human and ecological health. For those of you who missed this trip -- let me tell you a little about it….

The recent sustainability efforts at the Garden amount to much more than just the building; it is in fact, an entire landscape. Sustainable practices in design, construction, and operations are now central to the Queens Botanical Garden's mission. These practices support environmental stewardship, long-term financial viability, and the health of visitors, staff, and the community.

Spring 2007 saw the completion of the new Horticulture/ Maintenance Building, a Visitor/Administration Building designed to attain the highest (platinum) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDTM) rating, and new sustainable landscapes.

These buildings and landscapes provide new places for the community to gather and enjoy comfortable and inspiring spaces created by considering sun, wind, water, and plants. By regenerating the native ecology and using materials, methods, and technology that reduce the negative impact of new structures on the environment, the Garden is demonstrating and promoting more sustainable development.

The Visitor/Administration Building

This building's long and narrow design allows 90% of the interior space to receive daylight and maximize natural ventilation. The building's materials and furnishings incorporate a high percentage of recycled content, and over 20% are produced within 500 miles. Over 75% of the waste produced during construction has been diverted from the landfill through recycling and reuse.

Seasonal heating and cooling is provided by a geothermal system. Water from an aquifer 300 feet below is pumped into the building. This water maintains a 55°F temperature throughout the year. A heat exchanger can detect the difference between that and the temperature of the interior space, and heats or cools the water in the HVAC system for comfort. A geothermal system uses less energy than a conventional furnace or air conditioner and eliminates the need for burning fossil fuels on site.

Rooftop photovoltaic cells transform sunlight into enough energy to provide almost 20% of the buildings electricity needs. These cells are made of thin layers of silicon pressed together. When sunlight strikes the surface of the cell, it excites the electrons within, causing them to move from layer to layer, producing electrical current.

This building also features a green roof. A green roof is covered in vegetation and can provide habitat for birds and insects, and reduces urban heat island effect. They provide storm water control, added insulation and roof protection. A special membrane is below the plants to help channel the water and protect the building from root damage and leaks. Because it is on top of a building that must be safe under all weather conditions, regular soil may be too heavy or difficult to maintain. Therefore plants are grown in synthetic, soil-like medium. Medium to small-sized, low maintenance, native plants are used. Sedums are common. Since the roof slopes down to ground level, the public may enjoy this feature first hand while enjoying views of the rest of the garden.

Water is conserved, collected, cleansed and recycled in buildings and landscapes throughout the Garden. Low maintenance, drought resistant plants are used in Garden landscapes to reduce the need for irrigation. Throughout the project, rainwater is filtered and absorbed into the soil through bioswales instead of entering the city's combined sewer, reducing pollution in Long Island Sound.

Graywater from the building's sinks, dishwashers and floor drains is piped to a constructed wetland, while rainwater cascades off the terrace roof into a cleansing biotope. In both places, water is filtered and treated naturally through bacterial activity on the roots of carefully selected plants. The treated graywater is returned to the building for use in toilet flushing, while the cleansed rainwater supplies a meandering water feature and fountain.

A green roof planted with native plant species absorbs rainwater that falls on the Visitor/Administration Building auditorium. Rainwater that falls on the Horticulture/Maintenance Building is collected and stored in an underground cistern. A piping system connects this cistern to the building's storage and garage space, where the water is used to wash vehicles and tools.

I encourage you to visit the Queens Botanical Garden on your own, and return often to see the changing landscape unfold!

The Queens Botanical Garden is located at 43-50 Main Street (and Dalia), Flushing, NY 11355
For visitor information please visit their website: www.queensbotanical.org or phone 718-886-3800.