One of our best kept secrets is our Parking Garden. When you visit the Garden and park in the “Green Lot,” it is no ordinary black top. You are actually parking on a conservation masterpiece!
On Tuesday, May 15th at 9:30 a.m. the Huntsville Botanical Garden held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its achievement in its mission to set the standard for sustainability in the City of Huntsville: a new Parking Garden.
The need for additional parking at the Garden had been an issue for several years, as the Garden’s visitation continued to grow. However, parking lots by their very nature of large expanses of impervious surfaces, bright glaring lights and heat absorbing black materials are not inherently “green.” So the Garden looked for a way to solve both its need for additional parking and create an environmentally friendly space to do it in.
First, the Garden worked closely with the City of Huntsville Planning Department to affect change in the existing Parking Lot Ordinance, whereby a new category of lighting was inserted into the existing code to cover the use of LED light fixtures. LED fixtures offer a better quality of light, require 1/3 the number of fixtures to provide a safe, secure environment, use 50% less energy and have three times the bulb life of metal halide bulbs.
The Garden also worked closely with 4-Site, Inc., Outdoor Solutions, Inc. and Distinctive Landscaping, Inc. to ensure that the design and implementation of pervious pavers enabled storm water to be filtered and utilized in strategically placed Rain Gardens. Landscaping within the Rain Gardens has to be sturdy and diverse enough to handle both the South’s heat and the periodic flooding from strong thunderstorms.
Huntsville Botanical Garden was also able to incorporate recycled sub-surface removed from various locations around our community, re-milled several times and then used as the preparatory surface after the preliminary grading was completed. This reduced waste and eliminated pollution and energy use from mining, harvesting and purifying virgin materials that would otherwise be needed.
Most impervious surfaces consisting of dark paving materials like asphalt or concrete are noted for their ability to absorb heat radiated from the sun during the day and then releasing that stored heat at night to the surrounding area. These heat sinks are known as Urban Heat Islands and affect the local eco-system by raising temperatures. Huntsville Botanical Garden’s use of pervious eco-pavers in light colored tones allowed the Garden to receive the LEED certification stating that they will reduce the temperature by at least 29 degrees F.
This Parking Garden was a complimentary piece to our new Propst Guest Center. If you visit the Garden, please park in the “Green Lot,” its really the first part of your Garden Experience.