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Sustainable Master Planning Along Narragansett Bay

The Atlantic Ecology Division (AED) laboratory developed a plan to demonstrate EPA’s mission on the grounds of its facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island. In October 2004, AED completed a Sustainable Site Master Plan for its aquatic ecology research complex along Narragansett Bay that proposes green design strategies to develop ecological diversity and improve stormwater management at the facility.

AED employed the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Exit EPA Disclaimer rating system for existing buildings as a framework for sustainable master planning. Reducing the harmful effects of stormwater runoff and creating/maintaining a diverse array of habitats are two key focus areas.

The surrounding grounds will be arranged into native ecological zones, ranging from maritime bluff scrubland to upland woods. Some of these areas will act as vegetated buffer zones, which improve the site’s capacity to retain and filter stormwater, reducing harmful pollutants such as heavy metals before they enter the bay or groundwater aquifers. The sustainable site plan also proposes to replace sections of roads and parking lots with more porous surfaces that will allow for greater infiltration.

Another measure proposed to manage stormwater runoff at AED is the construction of two wetland areas—a freshwater marsh and a brackish marsh. The freshwater pond will help moderate runoff, improve water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wetland species. The brackish marsh will help manage both saltwater effluent from research activities at AED and freshwater runoff during storm events. Both wetlands are designed to reduce high levels of phosphorus and total suspended solids from flowing into Narragansett Bay.

Completed in September 2009, the facility's green roof also contributes to stormwater management at AED and provides insulation to improve energy efficiency.

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