Posted by: greeningvacapitol | December 7, 2010

Creative Scenic Enhancement Award

Scenic Virginia, a non-profit that advocates for the conservation of Virginia’s scenic resources, recently honored its 2010 Scenic Awards winners at a gala on Capitol Square. And guess who won an award?! That’s right, the Greening of Virginia’s Capitol project received the Creative Scenic Enhancement Award.  At the gala, Scenic Virginia noted that this project touches on two of their passions – beautification and a healthy James River.  Bert Jones of the Department of General Services accepted the award and noted the collaborative spirit of all project partners to help make this “dream project” a reality.

If you want to learn about the other award recipients and see pictures from the awards ceremony, visit here:

Thank you Scenic Virginia!!

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | November 19, 2010

A Pilot Project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative

The Greening of Virginia’s Capitol project has been selected to participate in the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ Pilot Program. The Sustainable Sites Initiative, or SITES™ as it is referred to, is a new rating system under development by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the US Botanical Garden for site and landscape projects, and is similar to the LEED green building rating system. SITES projects focus on sustainable practices in site selection, water use, soils and vegetation management, materials selection, human health and well-being, construction, and operations and maintenance. The Greening of Virginia’s Capitol project was one of only 160 chosen world-wide and in 34 US states to participate in the program. There are four SITES pilot projects in Virginia. The Pilot Program officially concludes in June of 2012 and is anticipated to then be officially rolled into the USGBC LEED rating system. For more information on all pilot projects and general information on the rating system, please click here:

On Virginia’s Capitol Square and the surrounding Richmond City streets, the innovative practices using vegetation and permeable paving systems to reduce stormwater runoff, harvest rainwater, and improve the urban environment, allowed the project to become a prime candidate for the SITES Pilot Project Program. Along with improving the health of natural systems in the James River watershed, the project also addresses issues of social, cultural, and regional economic sustainability. Throughout the design and construction of the project, documentation will be submitted to SITES in order to achieve certification.

Current work on the site as of November 2010 includes the construction of permeable paver walkways using permeable clay pavers (brick) that work within the historic guidelines of this site.

The brick pervious walkway is almost finished!

Construction on the Capitol Steps, the Bell Tower Rain Gardens, and the curbside bioretention planters at the Bus Loop are to begin later this year. Design for the stormwater planters and street trees to be located along 9th and 10th Streets has been completed and construction is expected to begin in early 2011.

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | September 29, 2010

Retrofit Construction Begins!

Meet our contractor! Messer Landscape of Virginia was awarded the contract bid.  They are a professional land development services organization that has clients such as SunTrust, City of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

This week they are beginning work on the project. First up is the terrace steps walkway.

Terrace Steps before Retrofit

Here, the steps will be replaced with permeable brick pavers.  A new walkway that connects the top of the terrace steps to the existing walkway that goes towards the Bell Tower will also be installed – using pervious brick pavers too of course. These pervious pavers will allow the water to soak into the ground underneath instead of just run off down the stairs during storm events such as the one we’re having right now.  The walkway will be installed first, to allow for an alternative path while the steps are under renovation.

There are other options for pervious surfaces, such as porous concrete blocks.  You can check out this study which compares runoff volume and the pros and cons for four different types of pervious pavements.  For more technical information, here is a porous pavement fact sheet.

With the large amount of impervious surface in Richmond, we hope that residential and commercial property owners join in with the state and city in trying to retrofit our impervious surfaces with porous surfaces.

Stay tuned…we’ll be documenting the progress on Capitol Grounds with pictures and periodic updates!

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | September 29, 2010

Richmond’s First Green Alleyway

A couple of weeks ago, Richmond unveiled the first green alleyway in the city.

First here’s what it looked like before:

5th Street Alleyway - Before Greening

Now the alleyway has been retrofitted with porous cobblestones to help soak up stormwater.

Check out what it looks like now:

5th Street Alleyway - After Greening

Looks great, doesn’t it? Here’s some more photos from the ribbon cutting event.

Ribbon Cutting

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | August 19, 2010

News Coverage on NBC12

A big thanks to our Local TV partner, NBC12, for the news coverage! Also, stay tuned to our website and Twitter @GreenVACapitol for project updates and detailed information on what you can do at home to “Green Virginia’s Capitol!”

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | August 3, 2010

Groundbreaking today!

We broke ground today on the project that aims to make Virginia’s Capitol the greenest in the nation! Here’s some pictures from today’s occasion.

Shovels for Groundbreaking

Site Plans for the Project

Nissa Dean, DCR Project Manager

Amanda Bassow, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Jeff Corbin, Environmental Protection Agency

Mayor Dwight Jones

Governor McDonnell


Chris Sonne and Chris Hale, our Project Civil Engineer and Landscape Architect

Thanks to everyone who attended and to all our guest speakers and groundbreakers!

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | July 27, 2010

Greening Virginia’s Capitol PSA

Thanks NBC12 for helping to create a great video on the Greening Virginia’s Capitol project!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | July 19, 2010

Design and construction update.

We are very close to having the contractor selected for the Capitol Square phases of the project! These include the Bell Tower Rain Gardens, the Permeable Paver Steps, and the Bus Loop Rain Gardens. A contract is expected to be awarded for these phases by mid July.

Rain Gardens Rendering

Designs are also being finalized for the Rainwater Harvesting System. This innovative system designed by the project civil engineer, Chris Sonne, will use captured runoff that will not only irrigate a large area of turf, but will allow the fountain near the Bell Tower to be refilled without relying on purchased City water. An additional portion of the harvested water will come from an existing underground spring which runs through one of the rain gardens. A similar use of this spring water on the site can be traced back to a point in the Square’s history when public drinking fountains were fed from springheads on the property.

As for the City streets portion of the project, the design has recently been recommended for approval by the City’s Urban Design Committee. Members of the committee were very excited about the project. Bid documents are expected to be completed sometime in August. Chris Sonne and myself (Chris Hale), the project Civil Engineer and Landscape Architect are currently exploring options for the rain garden soils that will accomplish objectives related to stormwater infiltration, plant growing requirements, and tree planting stability. Three new trees, along with native grasses, perennials and shrubs are proposed for the rain gardens. The native tree species selected for their wet, drought, and urban tolerance were sycamore, black gum, and fruitless sweet gum. We are also in the process of developing a long term maintenance program that can be utilized by the City to keep their new green infrastructure systems functional, healthy, and attractive!

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | July 19, 2010

Groundbreaking – August 3rd

It’s time to break ground for the Greening of Virginia’s Capitol Project! The Department of Conservation, the Department of General Services, City of Richmond, and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay are hosting a groundbreaking event on Tuesday, August 3rd at 11:15am. Please join us on the terraced steps of Capitol Square (near the Bell Tower) as we kick off this project that will reduce pollution to the James River and make Richmond one of the most environmentally friendly capitols in the nation. Invited guests include Governor Bob McDonnell and Mayor Dwight Jones.

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | June 11, 2010

NBC29 Interview

NBC29 interviewed project leads Nissa Dean and Bert Jones yesterday. Check out the article!

And if you see any more media hits for this project, please let us know by leaving a comment.

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