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• Create community-based regional partnerships throughout Texas to increase “children in nature” activities.
• Promote the cultural and economic gateways and benefits through nature-based opportunities.
Strategic planning, partnerships, recreational programs, and an increase in parklands and recreational spaces contribute to the solution to a myriad of problems facing today’s society. As shown throughout this chapter, there is strong evidence to support the positive relationship between improved physical, mental, and social well-being and direct access to parklands and outdoor recreation programs. These benefits, coupled with the economic value presented in Chapter 6, create a return on investment that is too great to ignore. Please see Figure 7.5 for a summarized flow chart of benefits.
Chapter 7 – The Value of Parks & Recreation in Well-Being Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan 2012 Sustainable Park Design Introduction Using sustainable techniques in the design and construction of public parks and other outdoor recreation supports the broader mission of TPWD, to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Parks provide important community space, valuable open space, and areas for maintaining biological diversity. There is immense added value to outdoor recreation areas across the state when sustainable measures are incorporated into the construction and maintenance of these public spaces.
Specifically, sustainable parks can be less expensive to operate, repair, and maintain.
They can also have a variety of environmental benefits including reduced stormwater pollution, support for native species, and improved ecosystem services. Additionally, by utilizing sustainability as a key design element, recreation providers can provide an example of environmental stewardship to Texas citizens. Incorporating sustainable design elements helps to accommodate current demands for outdoor opportunities while also ensuring that the needs of future generations can be met.
This chapter provides several strategies for identifying a wide range of ways in which recreation providers can deal with financial obstacles and create sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities to meet public demand now and in the coming years.
Numerous studies and reports have demonstrated that though sustainable, ‘green’ buildings may incur initial increases beyond conventional construction costs, this premium is more than compensated for over the lifetime of the building in proven financial returns such as savings in utility bills, increased property values, and user productivity gains.
A move from solely recreation-based parks to sustainable parks not only improves the quality of the natural environment, but also adds to the visitor experience in the park and the community in general. Many of the initiatives defined within this chapter are outlined in the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SSI), which was developed by a partnership between the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin, and the U.S. Botanical Garden.
The SSI, offers a set of “voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction, and maintenance practices.” (American Society of Landscape Architects, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, U.S.
Botanical Garden, 2009). The SSI is modeled after the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™ and is a 250 point rating system based on 15 prerequisites and 51 credits. The U.S. Green Building Council anticipates
Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan Chapter 8 – Sustainable Park Designincorporating the SSI rating system into future versions of the LEED Green Building Design Rating System™. In an attempt to increase the validity of TPWD’s Sustainable Park Design initiative, many of the key elements outlined are further supported by the prerequisites and credits listed under the SSI SITES rating system.
Land practices are defined as sustainable if they enable natural and built systems to work together to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (American Society of Landscape Architects, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, U.S. Botanical Garden, 2009). It should be the goal of all public outdoor recreation projects, buildings, and sites to strive to follow as many of the LEED and SSI™ concepts as possible, even if the projects are not participating in full and formal certification.
This chapter seeks to explore and analyze the outdoor recreation issues that will be of concern to public agencies in the coming years. Rising costs of utilities are impacting operation budgets. Looking to sustainable methods is an effective way to mitigate these impacts, in addition to ensuring the future of ecosystem services. Maintaining and promoting natural ecosystem services is very important for the environment and the economy because ecosystem services provide a large and often overlooked economic benefit. Additionally, as new generations of Texans become park users, their education and life experiences influence their expectation of parks. Young people today recycle at school, study natural resource conservation, and take environmental issues seriously.
These lessons can be further ingrained by seeing sustainable practices in place at their parks.
The primary objective of this chapter is to assist recreation providers in developing a comprehensive strategy to incorporate sustainable park design for their unique park systems. There are many diverse regions within the state of Texas. A sustainable solution that works well in Central Texas may not be as effective in Far West Texas.
This chapter provides a starting point for recreation providers to help identify specific solutions for implementing sustainable design elements into the creation, construction, and maintenance of outdoor recreation lands across the state.
Techniques for Sustainable Park Design This chapter will outline techniques for addressing sustainability for the following
elements of park design and environmental stewardship:
• Planning, Evaluation, and Monitoring
• Land Conservation
• Building Materials
• Energy Conservation
• Water Conservation
• Stormwater Management
• Wetlands, Streams, and Shorelines Chapter 8 – Sustainable Park Design Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan
• Waste and Recycling
• Social Impacts
• Operation and Maintenance Planning, Evaluation of Resources, and Monitoring In order to begin implementing sustainable park design into a local park system, recreation providers must first identify the natural resources offered by their regional environment. An ideal way to accomplish this is to create a Natural Resource Inventory.
Additionally, after this step, recreation providers are encouraged to develop a Natural Resource Management Plan, which highlights objectives and strategies for meeting the objectives. It is also important for recreation providers to develop a baseline understanding of each impacted site so that they may create a monitoring system to track the positive benefits for their efforts. The following sections
provide further detail about the Planning, Evaluation of Resources, and Monitoring:
Natural Resource Inventory, the SSI Areas Addressed: P2.1, P2.2, P8.1, C2.3, C9.1 Natural Resource Management
• Conduct a pre-design site assessment and Plan, in addition to Monitoring and Evaluation techniques. explore opportunities for site sustainability
• Use an integrated site development process
• Plan for sustainable site maintenance Natural Resource Inventory
• Engage users and other stakeholders in site design A Natural Resource Inventory is a
• Monitor performance of sustainable design list and description of all the practices characteristics of the land, including soils, bedrock, ground and surface water, vegetation, and wildlife, in addition to the built landscape (roads, trails, utility rights-of-way, buildings). It can be a valuable resource for assessing which sustainable techniques will apply best to each individual site.
TX Natural Resources Information System - www.tnris.org/ National Park Service NRI Guide - science.nature.nps.gov/im/index.cfm Natural Resource Management Plan A Natural Resource Management Plan is a document that outlines the objectives for park management and provides a list of actions for meeting the objectives. The level of detail may vary depending on the area being evaluated. There is a wide variety of ways to develop a resource management plan depending on respective needs and use.
Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan Chapter 8 – Sustainable Park Design
University of Florida NRMP - edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr126 Evaluation and Monitoring As recreation providers continue with efforts to sustainably manage a site, they can look to their Natural Resource Inventory to help in documenting and evaluating the effect of their efforts. Monitoring the performance of sustainable design practices is useful when determining how an area has been affected. Keeping up to date with the impact that efforts have made will help in the continuation to plan for the future.
Land Conservation Whether developing a new park system or maintaining a current one, recreation providers must consider each individual site, in addition to potential impacts from site development and construction. The following sections outline some important sustainable design components to keep in mind.
Greenfields, Greyfields, Brownfields
EPA Brownfields - epa.gov/brownfields/overview/glossary.htm US Mayors Council Study on Greyfields www.usmayors.org/brownfields/library/greyfieldstogoldfields.pdf Site Development Impact Cities are getting larger, squeezing out the open spaces for parks and disconnecting the state’s biological resources. Re-developing areas rather than building on previously undisturbed land minimizes the impacts of sprawl. Limiting development on open spaces helps to protect the habitats of threatened or endangered species and limits development on soils with prime farmland, unique farmland, or farmland importance.
Minimizing the impacts of development can have several positive impacts on the natural environment. Controlling and retaining construction pollutants helps minimize pollutants that enter the watershed and ultimately the community drinking water supply. Restoring soils disturbed during construction and other development helps to encourage plant growth which minimizes additional stormwater runoff. (See the Water Conservation and Stormwater Management sections for more information.)
Reused Materials Reuse of building materials is one of the most sustainable activities associated with our built environment. Buildings can be deconstructed in such a way that the materials being removed may be reused for new construction. Through the reuse of the materials, rather than disposal, landfill waste is minimized, consumption of new and raw materials is reduced, and fuel pollution and consumption is mitigated when materials are reused on-site. The American Society of Landscape Architects has put together an excellent video showcasing how the deconstruction and reuse of building materials may be used to develop a sustainable park. See the video here: vimeo.com/18507807
Building Materials Reuse Association - www.bmra.org/ Habitat for Humanity Re-Store - www.habitat.org/restores/ Recycled Materials Thanks to the work of educators, government programs, and community organizations the word “recycled” is a familiar term to most individuals but determining exactly what benefit to the environment is being achieved can sometimes be difficult to discern.
Products can be purchased that tout that they are recyclable, are made of recycled content, and are made from post-consumer content, however, they do not all carry the same positive impact on the environment.
Chapter 8 – Sustainable Park Design Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan The EPA has published a document helping to guide the purchase of recycled content materials for parks & recreation products and provide a minimum suggested recycled content level. This document can be found by searching for the 2007 Buy-Recycled Series: Park and Recreation Products.
The use of sustainable materials is a way to minimize impact on the environment by selecting materials that are easily renewed, reused, or recycled. An excellent example of a sustainable material is bamboo. It grows quickly (a.k.a. rapidly renewable) and can be used in place of endangered hardwoods. The Forest Stewardship Council provides a certification system to verify woods that are harvested and manufactured using principles of sustainability. The use of local or regionally manufactured materials can also be considered sustainable because the products do not require as much fuel traveling to the work site.
Forest Stewardship Council - www.fscus.org/ EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management www.epa.gov/osw/inforesources/pubs/vision2.pdf Natural Play Elements Playgrounds over the past 20 to 30 years have been narrowly designed for specific age ranges, practically eliminating appropriate playgrounds for pre-teens and teenagers.
These “sterile” playgrounds constrict the learning and play possibilities for all children.