When Burbank Water and Power built an award-winning electric power plant in 2005, it also replaced several existing substations located on the campus. In restoring the old substation sites, BWP saw an opportunity to achieve something greater. Los Angeles based landscape architecture firm AHBE Landscape Architects was commissioned to create an ambitious master plan for an EcoCampus that focused on transforming the grounds from an aging industrial site into a regenerative green space.
BWP’s EcoCampus is the only industrial project out of 150 national and international projects to be included in the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) pilot program. Similar to the LEED rating system for buildings, SITES is the first step toward creating a rating system that would evaluate the efficiency the landscape that ties our urban environments together.
EcoCampus sustainable landscape features include:
Rooftop Gardens – The Administration Building boasts three rooftop gardens that reduce the heat island effect, help channel and filter storm water, and reduce the building’s air conditioning requirements.
Water Reclamation + Filtration – The campus features five different types of water filtration technologies including infiltration, flow-through, detention, tree root cells, and rainwater capture. The project also features one of the longer Green Streets in Southern California; the landscape running across three contiguous City streets acts as a filter before runoff enters the storm water system. By California law, all projects are required to mitigate at least the first ¾ inches of rainfall. Thanks to the innovative technologies that AHBE has integrated into the design, the BWP EcoCampus already mitigates the first inch. Ultimately, the master plan would see the campus become a zero runoff site, far exceeding what state law requires.
Solar Power – An architectural solar array pays homage to both the Art Deco heritage of the building and the City’s historical ties to aviation. It will also power the LEED Platinum service center and warehouse building, as it channels rainwater to a filtration system.
Reclaimed Substation – The most striking feature of the new campus is at the heart of the Centennial Park. The structure of an old electric substation was purposely left intact, repurposed by AHBE’s design as an outdoor meeting room or super trellis. The skeletal remains of the substation will soon be covered in living vines, creating a poignant juxtaposition of industry and environment.
Green Space – All of the landscape serves a dual purpose. Aesthetically, it provides green space for employees and the public. Functionally, there are water filtration systems hidden below ground, allowing the entire campus to serve as a water filtration system.
“Landscape has a key role to play in the regeneration of our cities,” said Calvin Abe, FASLA, President, of AHBE. “Beyond the aesthetics, it can proactively counteract many of the problems that we face in urban environments. BWP’s EcoCampus stands as an exciting and restorative example of what can be accomplished when there is a long-term vision.”
IMAGES: Courtesy of AHBE Landscape Architects