Sol Harris Day Architecture

Anatomy of a Green Building - Lesson 1 - Dirt

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
By Matt Sutter, Chief Executive Officer
In Sustainability

It seems like such a simple subject. However as part of a green construction project dirt is often overlooked. What lies under the ground dictates so much of the building and site design. There are several challenges for a green building project as it relates to the dirt on the site.

The first challenge is simply to not have to bring dirt in from off site or to take dirt away from the site. There are ecological issues in moving dirt from one site to another, not to mention issues surrounding the use of fuel and the resulting pollution from the heavy equipment that is used to move the dirt onto or off the site.

The second challenge is to use the dirt in a such a way as to control the rainwater that falls on site. With the recent violent thunderstorms has come flooding in many areas. Prior to building development, the rain water that used to fall to the earth then soaked into the ground. Now in most building projects, roofs and paving prevent the rainwater from soaking into the ground and this water is directed through pipes into local streams and rivers. Mixed into this water are many varieties of pollutants from oils to simple dirt which end up having an impact on the health of the streams and rivers.

Part of the green design for the new building for SōL Harris/Day Architects revolves around the dirt. The site as been designed to be balanced. Dirt will not have to be removed or imported to the site. No dump trucks will be used to haul dirt off site. This saves fuel, and saves wear and tear on our local roads.

Rain water will be controlled completely on site. Imagine being able to contain all the rainwater that falls onto the site. The design for SōL Harris/Day's site traps all of the rain water on site, slows it down and then uses the dirt to filter the water as it slowly percolates into the ground. This cleans the water of any pollutants that may be collected as the water runs across parking areas. The design also helps to recharge the local aquifers from which so many people and cities draw well water to use as drinking water. The SōL Harris/Day site will not have any rain water that feeds into the county storm sewers and contributes to flooding. All rainwater will be processed on site.

Dirt - it can be an afterthought or it can become a strategy that contributes to a sustainable building site.

Matt Sutter, SōL Harris/Day Architecture
msutter@harrisday.com
330.493.3722

Anatomy of Our Team
Dirt design - Floyd Browne - www.floydbrowne.com - 330.375.1390
Dirt moving - Bontrager Excavating - 330.499.8775

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