Reimagined school yards become tools to combat combined sewer overflow, while serving as robust outdoor learning environments
Schools account for over 1,400 acres (567 hectares) in Philadelphia’s combined sewer service area, with approximately 65% of that space considered water impermeable. As part of the Green City, Clean Waters initiative (a 25-year plan to introduce better stormwater runoff absorption), the Green Schools program aims to convert schoolyards into green stormwater infrastructure sites and improve the health of Philadelphia’s waterways.
Before construction, the site at George W. Nebinger Elementary School was nearly 100% impervious—a large school building surrounded by a completely paved schoolyard. The goal? Provide as much vegetation as possible while maintaining play spaces and parking. Our teams contributed surveying, geotechnical engineering, landscape architecture, green stormwater infrastructure, and site/civil engineering design services.
The final design includes a rain garden (with subsurface storage), permeable play surfaces, porous pavers, a bioswale, a landscaped border, and an underground detention basin. Combined, the green infrastructure provides a classroom, laboratory, and outdoor play space that doubles as stormwater management and serves as a model green school in the City of Philadelphia.
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