Category Archives: Projects related to Sustainable Design

Stunning Results After Dam Removal

On June 24th, 2014, PARE joined the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, Town of Lancaster, MA dignitaries, elected officials and our partners, to celebrate the completion of the Bartlett Pond Dam removal and the restoration of free flow to Wekepeke Brook, a tributary to the North Nashua River. The dam removal’s ribbon cutting ceremony was utilized as a backdrop to proclaim June as “Rivers Month.”

Bartlett Pond Dam before dam removal:

LancasterDam2

The Bartlett Dam removal project marked the first completion of a project awarded funding under the EEA Dam and Seawall Repair and Rehabilitation Fund. The fund enables the Commonwealth to fund project which address current infrastructure concerns  such as the growing need to repair dams, coastal flood control structures and inland flood control structures that pose a risk to public health, public safety and key economic centers, while also supporting the enhancement, preservation, and protection of the natural resources and scenic, historic and aesthetic qualities of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Pare’s Project Manager, Allen Orsi, describes dam removal in general in a previous blog posted here.

The Bartlett Pond Dam, which was identified as a significant hazard potential dam in 2009, “was a threat to native ecology and natural processes,” as described by Briscoe Lang, Principal Environmental Scientist at Pare. Through detailed evaluations, Pare worked with the Town of Lancaster to consider both the rehabilitation and the removal of the dam. After completing a preliminary feasibility study in 2011, Pare worked with the Town, the Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration, and other project partners to advocate dam removal as the preferred approach for remediating observed deficiencies, such as native brook trout having no upstream passage, which affected the overall ecology of Wekepeke Brook. Design and permitting for the dam removal program commenced in fall 2012. Permitting was completed by summer 2013 and a contractor was selected by August 2013. Construction activities started in May 2014 with unobstructed flow restored to the brook within two weeks of commencing work.

Bartlett Pond Dam removal construction:

LancasterDam3

Briscoe Lang described the results of this project as “stunning.” Upstream passage was restored for 18 miles of high-quality cold water habitat. Pare also collaborated with Birchwood Design Group, landscape architects, to design the incorporation of park improvements and a landscaping program, which will provide added recreational benefits for the Town of Lancaster. The ultimate goal of this project is that the remnant channel will be stable and sustainable. When asked if there were any challenges the ecology could face after the dam removal, Briscoe mentioned that some plant life, such as purple loosestrife, does pose a risk, but Lancaster is aware of these factors and is adept in handling them.

Bartlett Pond after dam removal completion:

Lancaster Dam

“Cities and towns across the state are facing significant costs to update their antiquated water infrastructure systems. This Lancaster project demonstrates that, when appropriate, removing a dam can be a very cost-effective way to restore a river and enhance public safety and water quality,” said Geoff Beckwith, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

The completion of this project marks the first of what PARE hopes to be many successful dam removals, thanks to the EEA Dam and Seawall Repair and Rehabilitation Fund.

Pare Congratulates Walter Burke on Environmental Achievement Award

Pare Corporation is excited to recognize a long-time client, Bristol Parks and Recreation Director Walter Burke, as the recipient of Save the Bay’s annual Environmental Achievement Award. Walter was recently honored for his efforts to eliminate stormwater pollution entering Narragansett Bay in the Town of Bristol and, in particular, for his efforts to improve water quality at the Bristol Town Beach.

walterburkecropped

Working with Pare’s civil engineering and environmental teams, Walter initiated the Bristol Town Beach project to eliminate the frequent beach closings caused in years past by stormwater pollution. Historically, Bristol was forced to close its beach an average of 15 to 20 times per summer due to a stormwater system that carried bacteria, salt, and pollutants directly into the bay. David Potter, Senior Project Engineer in Pare’s Civil Division explains, “Pare worked together with Walter, the CRMC (RI Coastal Resources Management Council) and the DEM (RI Department of Environmental Management) to obtain a joint permit for the first-ever permitted GWVTS (Gravel Wet Vegetated Treatment System) in Rhode Island.”

Bristol Beach Plan

This design uses a vegetated permanent pool split between two cells to temporarily capture stormwater runoff from the adjacent residential neighborhood and treat for pathogens, total suspended solids, and other constituents. The two cells within the GWVTS are planted with a variety of aesthetically pleasing flowers and shrubs that feed on bacteria and pollutants before releasing this “filtered” water into the bay. The GWVTS is one of the solutions incorporated by Walter Burke on the Bristol Town Beach to treat stormwater runoff and reduce the number of beach closings.

The new system worked so well in the summer of 2013 (its first full season) that beach closings went from 15+ to zero. Briscoe Lang, Pare’s Principal Environmental Scientist, stated, “This system has proven successful in removing pathogens, and it should be used in all possible settings. It also provides significant aesthetic benefits.”

Bristol Bioretention Pond

When discussing the dual-functionality and success of the project, Pare’s team unanimously noted Walter Burke’s “vision” and his “get it done” attitude. As Briscoe Lang said, “Talk is nothing without action.” David Potter added, “He not only has the vision, but the patience and energy to achieve it.”

Bristol Beach Wetland

Congratulations to Walter Burke, who was presented the Environmental Achievement Award on Wednesday, May 21, by Save the Bay. For press coverage of Walter Burke’s achievement and additional GWVTS details, click here.

PARE’s Engineering as it Relates to Local News

Post Written by Allen Orsi

Recent attention to dam safety issues throughout Massachusetts and the rest of New England has generated increased interest in dam removal.  Dam removal not only addresses the issues associated with dam safety through the elimination of the hazard, but also provides significant ecological benefits.  Dam removal restores the ecological systems previously disrupted by the erection of the dam through reestablishing habitat connectivity, improving stream continuity, and increasing habitat diversity.  The restoration of natural ecological systems results in an overall improvement to water quality including increased dissolved oxygen and lower water temperatures.  While we believe that a properly maintained dam actually decreases downstream flooding, the ecological benefits are indisputable.

In 2005, PARE provided emergency response services to the owners of the Whittenton Dam in Taunton, Massachusetts as they responded to unsafe conditions at their dam following unprecedented rainfall in the area.  After years of coordination and planning, completion of the dam removal and stream restoration project is complete, as presented in a recent issue of ecoRI News.  While PARE did not participate in this restoration project, we are actively removing a dam in Lancaster, Massachusetts, as well as assisting other dam owners to pursue funding to facilitate their dam removal projects.

URI – The Greenest College in Rhode Island

The Princeton Review recently recognized the University of Rhode Island as the greenest college in the State for the fourth consecutive year. Among the factors elevating URI above its in-State peers are several LEED-certified buildings recently constructed on campus. PARE has played a major role on all of these projects, including the $60 million, 140,000-S.F. LEED Gold Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences and the $22 million, 43,000-SF LEED Silver Hope Commons Dining Hall. The new $44 million, 429-bed Hillside Residence Hall was completed in 2012 and is currently pursuing LEED Gold certification, while the $75 million, 145,000-S.F. College of Pharmacy was constructed to LEED standards and completed earlier this year.

Here is a gallery showing some of our projects at URI.

NYC Blueway Plan

As we all know the Northeast US was battered during Superstorm Sandy, especially the low lying coastal areas from the mid-Atlantic up through southern New England. The New York metropolitan area saw some of the worst damage. The heavily developed nature of New York presented major problems on two levels – the high concentration of capital and infrastructure there put billions of dollars worth of economic development at risk, while the lack of once natural habitat eliminated the coastline’s ability to buffer storm surges.

But New York City is taking steps to protect its shores while enticing visitors and residents to rediscover the recreational opportunities its waterfront provides. Labeled the “Blueway Plan”, it will consist of construction of a 4-mile long storm barrier along the East River. Bike paths, boat launches, parks, and sandy beaches all plan to be incorporated, while ecological benefits include the redevelopment of wetlands and saltwater marshes. Click here to find out more about the project.

Does anyone pay attention to signs we design?

Does anyone even enforce the signs we spend time and thought putting on a plan and making sure get installed correctly?  I’m specifically talking about “Idling Limit” signs we have incorporated into many of our recent Massachusetts designs.  We have been including signs in the drop off lanes at schools, both in the bus drop offs and the parent drop offs.  The sign states that there is an idling limit, references a fine and the MA general law.

I’ve often wondered if people really respect the signs or if parents and buses still sit in front of the school idling and waiting for their student or students to come out of the school, say good bye to their friends and then make their way into the vehicle.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this article, “RI Bus Co. Busted for Excessive Idling” and see that idling laws have been enforced.

For more information on MA and RI idling laws check out the links below:

Massachusetts Laws                             Rhode Island Laws

URI – Hillside Hall Grand Opening

There will be a grand opening ribbon cutting celebration for the New Hillside Residence Hall at the University of Rhode Island this Saturday October 27th at 9:30 a.m.  The event is open to the public.

The University of Rhode Island describes the new residence hall as:  “The new 429-bed Hillside Hall is the most energy efficient housing complex on campus. A Living and Learning Community (LLC), Hillside Hall houses freshmen and sophomores who share similar academic interests. It’s the first time that pharmacy and nursing majors, and international students will be able to live together, making study, support, and relationship building easier for all.”

Pare Corporation provided the civil site design and geotechnical services for the facility designed by the Rhode Island architectural firm Lerner Ladds + Bartels.  The project is in the process of applying for LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.  The project combines two stormwater rain gardens and bio-retention areas with the use of pervious pavers within the student courtyards for a complex stormwater management solution.  Below is a view of the building looking South with one of the rain gardens in the foreground.

Green and Economically Successful! -Rumford Center Project – East Providence, RI

The Providence Business News just reported that this project was given the 2012 Project of the Year Award by Northeastern Economic Developers Association.  Check out the full story here:  http://www.pbn.com/Rumford-Center-named-project-of-the-year,70445 This proves that a project can be both green and economically successful!  Fortunately, Pare Corporation had the opportunity to provide the site engineering for the Rumford Center project.

The original concept of this project as outlined by the development team, a partnership between Peregrine Group and Kirkbrae Properties, was sustainable.  Although, the project did not receive any sort of recognition on a rating system the development and design team were invested in doing the right thing for the environment.  Since the property had been the site for the Rumford Chemical Works it was previously developed and had nine buildings with a majority of the site being pavement.  Some of the more sustainable site features for this re-development are listed below:

  • Re-development Component: The project used existing land and buildings that had been previously disturbed
  • Remediation Activities:  Both buildings and site went through remediation to bring the complex up to current environmental standards
  • Reduction in Impervious Area:  The complex was primarily paved.  With the redevelopment impervious areas were planned and defined and are now outlined with pedestrian areas, landscaping and grasses.  This will reduce runoff and reduce the heat island effect.
  • Treatment of Runoff Water Quality:  As part of the proposed drainage design, deep sump catchbasins and a structural water quality treatment unit were installed rather than relying on the existing underground system.

Before Construction Photos

After Construction Photos compliments of Peregrine Group

Green Aspects of a Pare Project highlighted on Boston.com

Post Written By:  Allen Orsi

Dam removal provides many ecological benefits, including eliminating barriers to fish, wildlife, and macro invertebrate migration (habitat connectivity); improving surface water quality by reducing water temperatures, increasing dissolved oxygen, and increasing nutrient load;  reducing sediment starved flow; and restoring the surrounding area to a more natural and complex environment.

While PARE’s geotechnical division completes many dam evaluations and designs for repairs to deficient dams, dam repair is not always the best option.  After evaluating the structurally unsafe Curtis Pond Dam in Middleton, MA, a decision was reached with the dam owner to pursue dam removal.  PARE was subcontracted by Kleinfelder and worked closely with the dam owner and other project partners to develop construction documents for removal of the dam and for developing environmental permits to complete the work.

The project included removal of the dam to provide an unrestricted stream channel in the vicinity of the dam, bank restoration including coir logs and live stakings along select sections of the restored stream channel, and preservation of historical mill machinery salvaged from the dam during demolition activities.

Picture of Curtis Pond Dam Before the dam removal:

A picture after the dam removal:

For the full article on Boston.com check out this link: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/07/22/curtis_pond_dam_removal_may_be_the_first_of_many_in_ipswich_river_watershed/

The ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos within this post were provided courtesy of SumCo Eco-Contracting.

PARE completes a Geothermal Standing Column Test Well

Post Written By:  Josh Rosenberg

Standing column wells draw water directly from wells into the building to heat/cool the ground source heat pumps (GSHP), either indirectly or directly, and then the water is discharged back into the same well. The goal of a GSHP system is to reduce the frequency at which the compressor must be powered on average throughout the year by evening out the extreme seasonal variations in temperature. This is because GSHPs exchange heat with the subsurface soil and rock, which has a relatively steady temperature throughout the year, compared with that of the outside air. Therefore GSHP’s require less energy to heat and cool buildings than conventional air-source heat pumps, creating a more sustainable means of heating and cooling a building.

PARE recently completed installation of an 1100-foot deep geothermal standing column test well within the City of Boston. PARE provided field observation during advancement of the well hole and during the well pump test. After completion of the test well, PARE provided our client with a Geothermal Data Report detailing the geotechnical drilling conditions, well pump test and recharge data, water quality testing, and future steps necessary to advance the project to full scale production. The test well and data report will provide our client with the information necessary to evaluate the hydraulic properties of the bedrock, assess the level of difficulty in installing the full production well field, and assist in evaluating construction budgets. PARE coordinated with our client to strategically place the test well where it can be converted into a full scale production well when the full scale system is implemented, to conserve space, materials and ultimately cost.