Going Green: Engineered Soils Offer Environmental Benefits

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A quick and easy way to go green? Start from the ground up – literally – with specialty engineered soils.

The proper blend of sand, loam, and other organic material can reduce impervious surface area, manage stormwater and roof runoff, cut water use, and ensure that shade trees can thrive, lowering your energy costs.

Commercial or residential, new construction or renovation, an engineered soil solution can help.

“Some people think soil is soil, but nothing could be further from the truth,” said Christopher Ierardi, general manager of Read Custom Soils in Wareham. “The proper ‘recipe’ for your soil can make all the difference in how your landscaping functions and thrives.”

Ierardi, who holds a degree in Landscape Architecture from the UMass Amherst, encourages anyone planning site work to get expert professional assistance with their planning. A well-designed landscape plan can, and should, reduce maintenance costs and enhance your property’s value.

One well-known example is AutoCamp Cape Cod in Falmouth. Here, renowned designer Workshop/APD used Read’s Organic-Lock stabilized stone dust to build ADA-compliant picnic areas and pathways around the central firepit/gathering area. As Workshop/APD founding principal Andrew Kotchen told Interior Design magazine, integrating the luxe campground’s buildings and famous Airstream campers with the natural surrounding grounds was crucial.

Walking trails around a high-end campground is kind of a no-brainer, but use of specialty soils around a new office building, like Cape Cod Five Cent Savings Bank’s new headquarters in Hyannis, makes just as much sense.

“As we took on planning for the site development and ultimately the construction of our new headquarters in Hyannis, which targeted LEED Gold, environmental impact was a key consideration in every decision along the way in order to align with the environmental stewardship goals of Cape Cod 5,” said Matt Burke, co-president of Cape Cod Five. “Custom engineered soil allowed us to meet the specific needs of our site as we worked to create a naturalized landscape that reduced the need for water and pesticides.”

This project used bioretention soil from Read Custom Soils.

Not surprisingly, the use of engineered soils has long been an important tool in the public works, park, and beach manager’s toolbox. From beach nourishment at Trunk River Beach in Falmouth to permeable stabilized trails at the Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Cummaquid, specialty soils have enhanced the visitor experience in a cost-effective manner.

In Osterville, Coastal Excavation of Duxbury used bioretention soil for an infrastructure project.

“The project was designed to catch excess storm water and leach into the ground before it runs off and ends up in the waterways,” explained Kevin Knippenberg of Coastal Excavation. The system, designed by Horsley Witten Group of Sandwich, used bioretention soil at the bottom of swales which function like a rain garden: providing healthy growing media for plants and naturally filtering rainwater as it passes through the soil and returns to the aquifer. 

“The effect is phenomenal,” said Ierardi. “When a landscape design uses the proper materials, the plant life looks healthy, water and drainage works as it’s supposed to, and walking paths require little maintenance.”

Linda Burke is Vice President for marketing and communication for the A.D. Makepeace Company, based in Wareham, North America’s largest cranberry grower, the largest private property owner in eastern Massachusetts, and a recognized leader in environmentally responsible real estate development and stewardship. More information at https://admakepeace.com