Bakery Square 2.0 Green Infrastructure Tour

Recently, members of the Clean Rivers Campaign had the chance to visit the green infrastructure projects that are part of Bakery Square 2.0 in East Side. The Bakery Square development started with the Google offices and shopping center located on Penn Avenue. Across the street, the next phase of Bakery Square has already taken shape. A bright red and blue apartment building is housing residents and more office space is being constructed next door.

During the construction of the apartment building the developer, Walnut Capital, was required by the city to address the stormwater on the property. Walnut Capital chose to do so by using several different green infrastructure methods. Rain gardens rest along the streets outside of the building. Each rain garden rests about a foot or two below street level. The streets meet stretches of porous pavement. Water flows through the porous pavement and the rain garden into biorentention soil and gravel beds. This process reduces the chance of water runoff into the sewer system. It allows the ground to absorb the water under the Bakery Square development. This system is repeated throughout Bakery Square 2.0.

Walnut Capital constructed an underground parking garage, not visible from the street, in its new development. A green roof lies on top of this extensive garage. Although the green roof is on top of the parking garage, it is at street level and does not immediately appear to be a green roof. The roof was created with particular grass and plants that absorb the rainwater that falls on the development. This was a very creative project and one we had not seen before. Walnut Capital was able to create an attractive lawn area for its residents while addressing any possible runoff despite the main structure being underground.

The development is also home to a large rain garden behind the building. Downspouts from the building end in this rain garden, diverting water from the sewer system. Walnut Capital and its residents have already seen the green infrastructure projects at work. The representatives on the tour have not seen the projects fill with water, and indication of their effectiveness at allowing water to enter back into the ground. Walnut Capital has felt the benefits of green infrastructure as their property does not incur damage from flooding or excess water. The residents of Bakery Square 2.0 feel the benefits as attractive landscaping surrounds their living space.

Walnut Capital already has plans to improve upon the green infrastructure projects that exist after assessing how they function in an active residential area. As they continue to construct new buildings along Penn Avenue, they have plans for additional green infrastructure projects including using rainwater catchment to water landscaping and to create a pond.

It is always very exciting for the Clean Rivers Campaign to witness real green infrastructure projects that are working in the Pittsburgh area. It was affirming to hear from the people utilizing this approach that it is worthwhile and beneficial.