Managing floods with green design at Evergreen Brick Works
Published on March 24, 2017
Evergreen Brick Works is in the heart of the Don watershed, directly located in the Lower Don floodplain.
Knowing that flooding is inevitable, we planned to mitigate the risk with key green design features.
How we develop our cities around waterways can have massive impacts on flooding. More non-permeable surfaces and less plants mean the risk of flooding only increases.
At Evergreen Brick Works, not only have we put in place ways to help manage stormwater, but we also built out the site with wet floodproofing at the centre.
Wait, wet floodproofing? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Instead of preventing buildings from flooding, wet floodproofing allows water to flow in and out of buildings.
Here's what design components we have used:
Starting from the ground up, we installed a Cupolex foundation in our buildings that not only raised the floor but also helps water, moisture and gases escape from beneath the floor. It also provides extra room for the installation of riser pipes, which vent out to our roof.
Preparing for our site to flood also means putting vulnerable infrastructure in key places. That means most of our main mechanical and electrical rooms are built on 2nd floor and higher and electrical plugs are above the 25-year flood level.
Cement boards, which are water tolerant, removable and washable, are used on the lower portion of our inside walls.
But it isn’t just indoor infrastructure that needed to be installed. Our outdoor spaces were revitalized to help mitigate the risk of flooding in the first place.
Just like the rain garden in B.C., Evergreen planted native species in our greenways that help absorb rainwater and filter sediment. These greenways not only clean the water, but also send it towards a stormwater management pond, which collects water from our parking lots and other surfaces around the site.
We even use rain barrels, similarly to how you may use them at home, just on a giant scale. We reuse the rainwater collected from our buildings’ rooftops in 13 giant cisterns with the total capacity of around 250,000 Gallons.This water gets used for gardening onsite and even for our toilets!
By now we know that concrete is a major player in what makes cities such a challenge for watersheds.
At the Brick Works, we used pervious concrete that contains 25 per cent more air than other types of concrete, allowing it to absorb rainwater. The rainwater flows through the concrete and into the soil, where it is naturally filtered before it heads into the groundwater supply.
All these original ideas we had when developing the original portion of the Brick Works site is now being used for the historic kiln building.
We are helping protect this important historical building from further deterioration with a few key green design features like a raised floor using a special three-layer concrete.
It’s just one of the innovative ways we hope the building’s redevelopment pushes the boundaries of green design and sustainable construction. You can read more about the kiln building project on the Evergreen Brick Works page of our site.
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