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Wimberley's Blue Hole Regional Park Will Test Sustainable Landscape Rating System
26 May 2010
Austin, TX – The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) announced the selection of Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley, Texas as one of the first landscapes to participate in a new program testing the nation's first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance.
Blue Hole Regional Park will join more than 150 other projects from 34 states as well as from Canada, Iceland and Spain as part of an international pilot project program to evaluate the new SITES rating system for sustainable landscapes, with and without buildings. Sustainable landscapes can clean water, reduce pollution and restore habitats, while providing significant economic and social benefits to land owners and municipalities.
SITES, 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, selected Blue Hole Regional Park based on its extensive environmentally friendly elements. Some highlights of these sustainable practices include: “green” stormwater systems such as rain gardens and bioswales, less than 10 percent impervious coverage, streambank restoration, water harvesting/reuse for toilets and irrigation, use of native materials and reuse of existing materials in construction, revegetatation and restoration of native plant species, full cut-off light system, nearly three miles of new trails, interpretive design elements, natural ventilation for the site's architecture, and only 3 percent of new disturbance with the project.
Blue Hole Regional Park joins the Smithsonian Institution's African American History & Culture museum, a New Orleans' project to absorb storm water on the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and other pilot projects that include academic and corporate campuses, public parks with hundreds of acres, transportation corridors and private residences of less than one acre.
The design work at Blue Hole Regional Park is being completed by the Austin office of Design Workshop, an international landscape architecture, land planning, urban design and strategic services firm. The 126-acre site was developed to become Wimberley's first major city park and to ensure that this treasured swimming hole would not be turned into a private development. Like the other pilot projects, the site will test the point system for achieving different levels of site sustainability on a 250-point scale, and the performance benchmarks associated with specific credits within the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009.
In May 2005, the City of Wimberely completed the land acquisition portion of the Blue Hole project with grants and donations from Texas Parks and Wildlife, Hays County, the Lower Colorado River Authority, The Trust for Public Land, and numerous individuals. The park includes a natural cold spring that is part of the Cypress Creek corridor. The Blue Hole has been an icon of a natural swimming hole found in the Hill Country for decades. Along the Cypress Creek corridor are towering Bald Cypress trees that are believed to be more than 200 years old. Not a single Bald Cypress tree is being removed and a new generation of these trees will be planted as part of the restoration efforts.SITES will use feedback from this and the other selected projects during the pilot phase, which runs through June 2012, to revise the final rating system and reference guide by early 2013. The U.S. Green Building Council, a stakeholder in the Sustainable Sites Initiative, anticipates incorporating the guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of its LEED® Green Building Rating System™. More information is available at: http://www.sustainablesites.org. For general media queries about SITES, go to: http://www.sustainablesites.org/news/.
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