The “Why” Behind Our Stormwater Module

Alyson Hallander / September 4, 2019

When it comes to stormwater management, there are many “pull” factors that pressure landscape architects to elevate the performance of their designs:

  • Increasingly, cities and municipalities require designers to evaluate GI solutions for handling portions of rainfall events in addition to social benefits that green space provides.
  • SITES Certification rewards and encourages GI and achieving high stormwater performance.
  • Landscape Architecture Foundation’s (LAF) New Landscape Declaration calls on landscape architects to act now in the fight against climate change. Climate change is at a tipping point, and landscape architects have a major role to play in what happens next. Green Infrastructure (GI) is part of the solution.

The Challenges

We all want to excel in our work and answer to the industry “pulls” but it’s not always easy.

Often, landscape architects are brought into a project with limited scope, time, and budget.  Early on in the landscape design process, landscape architects do not typically check whether their designs will meet stormwater requirements. When civil engineers come in late in the game, costly rework is needed if requirements are not met.

Landscape architects also struggle with lack of information about cost and maintenance impacts with green vs. grey design features.  Building owners are hesitant to get saddled with spending a lot more to build and maintain GI features. When landscape architects cannot answer cost questions, GI gets nixed.

Outdated rainfall data is another part of the problem.  As we covered in a blog post from May, stormwater design calculations often use averaged out rainfall data from over the past 30 years.  The rainfall of today is drastically increased from the rainfall of 1990!

Finally, landscape architects who are doing stormwater calculations to inform design decisions often are using spreadsheets.  One word and an emoji come to mind regarding spreadsheets: Tedious and 😑.

The Macleamy Curve and Landscape Architecture

Depicted below, the Macleamy Curve is often used in regard to building architecture to describe the ideal time for early stage building performance anlaysis and collaboration between disciplines.  Early on in the design process, it is easier and less costly to make design changes that impact the end product versus making design changes later in the game.

Depiction by Daniel Overbey, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP (BD+C, ID+C, O+M), WELL AP

Leading building architects have adopted early stage building performance design tools to evaluate energy, daylighting, water use, utility costs, etc… to inform design decisions.  It’s well understood that more guidance and information as design decisions are made result in better design and better performance.

Consequently, landscape architects should be deploying a similar approach.  However, up until now, they have not had the tools to do so.

The Solution – Performance Based Design for Stormwater

The above points and challenges are the driving factors of why PlanIT Impact developed it’s Stormwater module.

PlanIT Impact is best used early on even before putting “pencil to paper” to set the design on the right path forward.  By leveraging our Stormwater Discovery Engine, the platform recommends the best combinations of green vs. grey to meet stormwater management goals while balancing maintenance and irrigation costs.

Regarding data, robust rainfall data from the ETWater Unity API makes it easier to design for now instead of the past.

Within the tool, upfront, maintenance, and irrigation cost data informs decision making and gives landscape architects the information needed to answer cost questions.

With PlanIT Impact, inform your landscape designs, elevate your stormwater practice, and design with purpose.

Do you want to see how PlanIT Impact can improve your practice?  Request a demo!

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