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Stormwater Management at the Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center

In This Section

Just north of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, EPA’s Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center (AWBERC) facility has made low impact development (LID) techniques part of its commitment to become a more sustainable facility.  AWBERC has not only implemented LID techniques for stormwater management, but it serves as a design tool for other EPA architects and engineers studying future stormwater management possibilities.

Existing LID Features

Current LID features at AWBERC include a 7,899 square foot green roof and 3,610 square feet of permeable pavers. The green roof has four inches of planting media and provides approximately 1,000 cubic feet of water storage, enough to retain the rainfall from a 1.6-inch storm. The permeable pavers provide approximately 1,900 cubic feet of water storage, equivalent to managing runoff from more than 15,600 square feet of a traditional impervious paved surface. These LID practices not only reduce site runoff but provide aesthetic and sustainable site elements to the facility.

Planters on AWBERC's green roof.
Planters on AWBERC's green roof.

A view of AWBERC's green roof.
A view of AWBERC's green roof.

Permeable pavers in AWBERC's courtyard.
Permeable pavers in AWBERC's courtyard.

Hypothetical Retrofit

As a design tool for EPA architects and engineers, a civil design firm was asked to re-envision the AWBERC site with as many LID strategies as possible. The site was analyzed for a hypothetical stormwater retrofit. The resulting "Not for Construction" design document now serves as a teaching tool and reference for designers. 

Background

EPA chose AWBERC for several reasons. The facility is EPA-owned, not leased, and it is one of EPA’s largest laboratory facilities, with a large parking lot and roof area that could be used to demonstrate the stormwater management possibilities of those areas.

In addition, Cincinnati has a suitable amount of rainwater for stormwater exercises, enabling a useful analysis of multiple LID practices on one site. Like many cities, Cincinnati is served by a combined sewer system, and LID can help reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) problems.  A combined sewer system is one in which the stormwater and the sanitary sewer systems run in the same pipes. During large rain events, excess runoff causes the combined systems to overflow, leading to pollution.  LID techniques reduce the amount of stormwater entering the system, which helps reduce or prevent excess runoff and pollution-causing overflow.

Finally, because Cincinnati’s watershed drains into the Ohio River, the largest tributary by volume of the Mississippi River, stormwater management there is vital to protect the important water resources downstream.

Goals

EPA’s goal was to produce a training and teaching tool to highlight multiple LID practices on one site plan. In addition, the design serves as a planning tool for future projects at AWBERC.  The Agency also evaluated the costs of LID stormwater management techniques compared to conventional stormwater management approaches.

Design

A page from the Low Impact Design Development Guidelines at the AWBERC facility.
A page from the Low Impact Design Development Guidelines at the AWBERC facility.

A multitude of LID practices were included in the design: non-structural sand filter, vegetated filter box, vegetated swale, bioretention basin/rain garden, green roof, porous concrete pavement and porous asphalt pavement, permeable open joint pavers, cisterns/rain barrels, and sustainable planting area.

Most sites would not be able to implement such a large number of LID practices. However, this resource design document displays the various design options available to engineers and architects aiming to reduce stormwater runoff through the implementation of sustainable stormwater designs and retrofits.

The hypothetical design document is available for research and training purposes. 

Low Impact Design Development Guidelines at the AWBERC Facility (12 pp, 9MB, About PDF)


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