City of Waterloo: GreenLab

Project Lead: Karen Anderson

Welcome to our big rain barrel!

The GreenLab is located at RIM Park, the City of Waterloo’s premier sports, fitness and healthy
living hub. Visited by 1.3 million people every year, this 500-acre facility features outdoor
sports fields, a multi-purpose recreation building, trails, parkland, a golf course, public
art and more. This makes RIM Park the perfect demonstration site to promote, educate and
encourage environmental best practices.

At the City of Waterloo, we see rain as a precious resource. The GreenLab was conceived by the City of Waterloo to showcase and build awareness of the importance of water conservation and re-use. The system collects and re-uses rainwater that would be otherwise drained directly into the storm sewers. It reduces water consumption on four grassed sports fields by up to 10 million litres of water annually—enough to fill four Olympic-sized pools. The rainwater harvesting system stores 563,000 litres of rainwater, reducing the impact on the city’s stormwater system while also being used to irrigate the adjacent sport fields.

Here’s how it works:
When it rains, water “percolates” through the upper gravel layers beneath the artificial turf fields and is stored in the lower gravel level of the field (as shown below). When needed, water is then pumped from the storage system to water the four natural fields.

An innovative educational demonstration site for green technology.
Education is an important element of the GreenLab and the demonstration site is equipped with an interactive website and teaching tools geared to the grade 7/8 curriculum. Designed to grow and adapt with new technologies, the GreenLab is now being expanded to include solar collectors that act as public shade structures. Available for free public viewing any day of the year, the project is easily adapted to other communities, should they wish to follow in Waterloo’s footsteps.

The Details:

Project Description: RIM Park Rainwater Harvesting System and GreenLab
RIM Park is the City of Waterloo’s premier sports park and recreation facility. The facility is situated within a 500-acre park in the north-east corner of the city, along the Grand River. RIM Park is an outdoor and indoor recreational asset attracting 1.3 million visitors per year to enjoy sports, community events and natural spaces.
The City of Waterloo’s ‘GreenLab’ is an environmental education project located within RIM Park with is a 500-acre park along the Grand River. The project features a new outdoor sport facility featuring two international-quality artificial turf sports fields, four natural turf sport fields, a Rain Water Harvesting System and a green roof on a pavilion in the central gathering area.

The project demonstrates sustainability by integrating positive social, economic and environmental outcomes in its design and operation. The Rainwater Harvesting and Re-use System addresses water conservation needs, while promising efficiencies and cost savings for the municipality. It is designed to achieve the following goals:
a) Reduce reliance on the municipal water system for watering the adjacent natural turf fields,
b) Measure water quantity savings,
c) Provide smart turf moisture monitoring for exact water needs for the natural fields.
RIM Park is the City of Waterloo’s premier sports park and recreation facility. The facility is situated within a 500-acre park in the north-east corner of the city, along the Grand River. RIM Park is an outdoor and indoor recreational asset attracting 1.3 million visitors per year to enjoy sports, community events and natural spaces.

The GreenLab promotes, educates and encourages environmental best practices including the benefits of water conservation complemented by a web-based education module to support Grade 7/8 school curriculum.

The project demonstrates sustainability by integrating positive social, economic and environmental outcomes in its design and operation. Not only is the system designed to conserve and re-use water, it provides a venue to educate the community about the value, benefits and importance of water conservation. The project is unique and is intended to inspire future water conservation projects in municipal, commercial and residential projects.
 

Describe the results achieved

1. Reduction in city water usage. The rainwater harvesting system collects water from two artificial turf fields and the water is used to irrigate four adjacent natural turf fields. The system is designed to reduce water consumption by up to 10 million litres annually. The rainwater harvest system storage layer has a capacity to hold 563,000 litres of storm water. The adjacent natural grass sport fields require 200,000 litres of water per cycle of water application. During a 25mm storm event we can collect a volume of 420,000 litres which will provide for 2.1 irrigation cycles for the natural turf fields.

2. Reduced pressure on storm water management ponds. The artificial turf fields replaced 3 existing natural turf fields. The natural turf fields absorbed and utilized the storm water and only excess drained to the storm water management ponds. Artificial turf fields are 100% drained of storm water – a feature of the fields – so that they are always ready for sports programming. This would have substantially increased the volume of water being drained to the storm water ponds. Now only overflow storm water, beyond the storage capacity of the harvesting reservoir is drained to the ponds.

3. A greenroof that absorbs stormwater from a pavilion building further reducing stormwater pressures and absorbing solar heat on the building rooftop. Any access stormwater not absorbed by the rooftop sedum plants drains into a permeable paving surface installed as a demonstration feature on best practices.

4. Education: The GreenLab is an interpretive signage node that teaches visitors to the park about the environmental best practices and how they function. Thousands of families visit the project each week to play field sports and the GreenLab signage is featured centrally where all visitors can learn about the unique water conservation features and learn about the value and benefits of water conservation.
Name of executive or team leader who managed the project    a: Karen Anderson, OALA

What 3 things in your mind makes this project most worthy of recognition

1. Demonstrates leadership in green technology.
2. The project is a custom design but the knowledge is easily transferable and repeatable.
3. The project includes a community education element with a very high exposure in a location fully accessible by the public year round.

Tell us about the team

The project required collaboration between five departments crossing over eight different functional teams. The Community, Culture and Recreation Services (CCRS) Department led the project through the Policy, Planning and Business Services Division. Stakeholders included representatives from seven teams within the departments of CCRS, Public Works Services, Corporate Services Asset Management and Office of the CAO, as follows:
1) Policy, Planning and Business Services
2) Facility Allocation and Bookings
3) Recreation and Facility Services
4) Asset Management
5) Environment and Parks
6) Capital Projects
7) Finance
8) Communications

The project required an integrated management approach to manage the complexities of the various team needs and mandates. The process of planning, designing, constructing and understanding how to operate and communicate the new assets, led to creative problem solving and sharing of ideas. The outcome was an Operations Manual to define ongoing roles and responsibilities for the project.
The project also included involvement and collaboration from six major contributors, including several levels of government, a non-profit community group, the private sector and volunteers from the local school board. The broader project was supported by funding from both the Federal and Provincial Governments within the Building Canada – Communities Component for Sport Infrastructure. The Waterloo Minor Soccer Club was also a major financial and collaborative partner in detailing the goals of the project. TD Bank joined the project to support additional ‘green technology’. The educational component of the project was supported by local grade 7/8 and high school teachers in the development of the curriculum content. Upon completion the Regional Municipality of Waterloo recognized the project for the Water Efficiency Technology Program.

Leave a Reply