Sustainable Design in Civil Engineering | Progressive AE Megan Rice Sustainability & LEED

By Jeff Roman, Laura Schaner, Jeshua Short, and Brandon Simon

For over 60 years, Progressive AE has been committed to innovative and sustainable designs that benefit our clients and communities. In this blog series leading up to Earth Day, we’ll share knowledge and best practices we’ve learned along the way. 

So far in this series, we’ve explored sustainable design best practices within the building itself, including architecture, mechanical, electrical, and structural engineering. The next two installments will focus on designing a sustainable site through civil engineering and landscape architecture. 

Green Over Grey Everyday 

When we approach site design, we are interested in preserving as much of the natural landscape as possible. We coordinate with architectural designers and landscape architects early in the design process to ensure buildings are positioned on the site to maximize passive environmental design, such as daylighting and ventilation, while also minimizing earth disturbance and preserving mature trees and natural elements. In addition to preserving the natural environment, smart grading and selective demolition can provide large reductions in operational carbon and substantial cost savings by limiting heavy equipment operating time. Our team relies on software such as SITEOPS and AutoCAD’s grading optimization tool to ensure that the project can incorporate many aspects of sustainable design early in the design process.  

Low-impact development (LID) describes the practice of designing sites and stormwater management systems that most closely mimic nature. Historically, development practices have treated stormwater management as an afterthought, trying to handle the runoff from an entire site in a single isolated location. This hinders natural systems and creates a single point of failure when proper maintenance is neglected. In contrast to the old ways of development, the goal of LID is to capture storm runoff close to its source and use design techniques that infiltrate, filter, store and evaporate that water. Some of the best examples include green roofs, bioretention gardens, and permeable pavers. With LID, stormwater is treated as a resource rather than a liability. When we incorporate natural elements and systems into our site design, not only …


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