It’s not every day you can claim to have award-winning parking lots. And yet UAB’s Express Parking Lot No. 4 is the winner of a 2018 Watershed Conservation Development Award from the Cahaba River Society (CRS). The lot’s construction included more than a half-mile of bioswales to capture surface stormwater and reduce flooding and pollution.
A bioswale is a long, narrow trough with gently sloped sides, which is filled with compacted subgrade, absorbent drainage fill, a special bioretention soil mix and river rocks. Each layer has a different absorption and release rate, which helps prevent oversaturation of the ground. The layers also work to filter silt and pollution from the runoff — before it returns to the river.
Traditional stormwater-management approaches often contribute to excessive runoff rates and volume, but UAB has a dedication to discovering and implementing sustainable options. Its use of bioswales in Express Lot No. 4, a flat employee lot located at south Fifth Avenue and 10th Street, shows UAB plans to continue that trend, said Julie Price, manager of UAB Sustainability. UAB first employed this natural technology during its construction of the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts in 2014.
“The fact that UAB’s commitment to sustainability is evident even in our parking lots proves UAB’s staunch support for green projects both on campus and throughout Birmingham,” Price said.
During the past 10 years, CRS has honored 113 firms, institutions and governments for designing and delivering 24 water-smart projects that meet growth goals while also protecting and restoring water resources. UAB also received the award in 2015 for its water recovery program; other recipients include the Children’s of Alabama expansion project in 2013 and Railroad Park stormwater system in 2012, among others.
“We are honored to be included in the Cahaba River Society’s list of Watershed Conservation Development award-winners, who have already helped pave the way toward a more sustainable future for our community,” Price said.