SmartScape

Coastkeeper’s Smartscape project with Southern California Edison takes on an industrial design true to the site.

Low-impact. Good for the environment. 

The Villa Park Substation SmartScape Project: A Model for Sustainable Landscape Design and Management is a joint project between Southern California Edison and Orange County Coastkeeper

The SmartScape final report is available here.

The project, located at Southern California Edison’s Villa Park substation in the City of Orange,converted 3 acres of conventional turf into a resource efficient landscape that is designed to serve as a model for other SCE facilities, commercial spaces, and residential parcels. The project features drought-tolerant plant design, cutting-edge technology and sustainable landscape management practices that reduce maintenance costs, conserve water, reduce carbon emissions,mitigate stormwater runoff, and increase soil carbon sequestration. A two-year monitoring study following the landscape installation evaluated and verified the outcomes of the project goals and objectives.

After the first year of our monitoring program, one way we measured the ongoing success of this project was by the increase in the diversity of bird species at the substation. Read the study here:

The station has reported a 66% reduction in its water consumption. By the end of 2012, Coastkeeper and its project partners will begin drafting a white paper peer review to evaluate how well we have achieved the primary objectives of this project. These objectives are listed in the “why is it good for the environment” section below.
More SmartScape retrofits to come? Coastkeeper was recently asked to implement another SmartScape project for SDG&E with their proposed plan to upgrade electrical transmission lines between substations in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. Read more.

What is the SmartScape Project?

Orange County Coastkeeper partnered with Southern California Edison and a team of landscape professionals to develop this project, which is not only “green”, but meets the utility’s safety and service requirements. Some unique aspects of the project include: environmental stewardship, living soils, and water-efficient irrigation and landscaping.

The 3-acre project at the Villa Park Substation in the City of Orange features cutting-edge technology and sustainable landscape practices that conserves water, eliminates dry-weather runoff, provides reduced maintenance costs, cuts down on the site’s carbon footprint and establishes a habitat for urban wildlife.

Federal, state, and local organizations have praised the project for its innovative solutions, which Edison plans to replicate in future landscape projects.

Bioswales on the site help to contain water runoff and create an attractive grassland ecosystem for small organisms.

This model project will serve as a template for Edison’s future drought-tolerant landscape projects. Many of its features reflect innovative practices that can be applied to area homes and businesses as well. A two-year monitoring program will analyze and verify results.

What does it look like?

It will take some time for the plants to fully mature, but each variety was selected based on its resiliency and in many cases, its ability to regenerate to form a varied plant palette of textures and tones.

Evergreen and flowering shrubs, grassland that conveys and infiltrates storm-water drainage, a blend of Southern California native drought-tolerant plants, trees, and coastal succulents shape the landscape to provide year-round color and interest. Sustainable urban forestry practices were used to ensure a healthy, flowering landscape throughout the seasons.

Why is it good for the environment?

        The irrigation heads, valves, controllers and drip systems save water. Mediterranean and Southern California native plants tolerate the region’s driest seasons. A system of bioswales and detention areas eliminates dry-weather runoff and manages storm water through enhanced infiltration. A sustainable maintenance regime maximizes healthy plant growth and minimizes cost. Composting of organic waste enhances soil quality and eliminates the need to truck materials to a landfill.

We anticipate significant results from the project:

Photo taken May 2012

  • There will be an approximate 50 percent reduction in water and associated electricity use.
  • We estimate a 40 percent reduction in landscape maintenance costs.
  • We anticipate a 50 percent reduction in the site’s carbon footprint.
  • Polluting dry-weather runoff will be eliminated, protecting waterways and the ocean.
  • Habitat for urban wildlife, particularly birds, will be enhanced.

 

Plant Palette

The project uses native and drought-tolerant plants that will use significantly less water than the original landscape, require less maintenance and provide a year-round tapestry of color and textures to the site. Most of the plants can be purchased seasonally from speciality nurseries.

Tree Legend

Large Shrub Legend

Shrub Legend

 

About the team

SmartScape is a project of Orange County Coastkeeper, Southern California Edison, Clark and Green Associates, Stivers and Associates, and Harvest Landscape Enterprises, Inc.

Photo taken May 2012

Orange County Coastkeeper, founded in 1999, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of the marine habitats and watersheds of Orange County through programs of education, restoration, enforcement and advocacy. The organization works with businesses, developers, cities, elected officials and regulatory agencies to develop solutions to the problems of polluted urban runoff.

Clark and Green Associates provides progressive and intelligent design solutions while emphasizing service to its clients. For 20 years, the company has been dedicated to supporting the process and interaction between the client, consultants, environment, and end-user for each project, while creating a sense of team unity. Susatinable design has been an important facet of its work long before “xeriscape,” “California Friendly,” and “Sustainable Design” became popular.

Stivers and Associates, Inc., has more than 28 years of experience in the practical application of landscape development and management. With an extensive knowledge of design-build and management practices, the company has been instrumental in formulating creative solultions for landscape design in residential, commercial, retail, industrial and environmental mitigation.

Harvest Landscape Enterprises, Inc. is one of Orange County’s top companies specializing in resource efficient landscape maintenance. Established in 1983, the company manages more than 8,000 acres in Southern California, specializing in smart technologies and construction in order to supply clients with the best in all aspects of arboriculture, landscape design, maintenance, and retrofit services.

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