15 June 2017

Abertay takes on rain garden project

Abertay takes on rain garden project

Abertay University staff are teaching the next generation of engineers as part of a collaborative project to highlight rain gardens, sustainable drainage and the environment.

The University teamed up with Taylor Wimpey West Scotland and Global Professional Services Consultant WSP to offer a learning package aimed at Primary 5 children.

Pupils from Holytown Primary School near Motherwell are the first to benefit from the educational resources with a series of classroom talks and discussions, interactive activities and local show and tell visits in the local community to learn more about the concept of Greener Gardens.

The children’s day included a visit to Taylor Wimpey West Scotland’s Torrance Park development in Holytown to see the Torrance Water project features in-situ which includes a natural rain garden, a raised rain garden, water butts and a suds-in-box as well as a visit to the Ravenscraig BRE site.

Taylor Wimpey West Scotland continues to work in partnership with the Scottish Government, Central Scotland Green Network Trust and academia on the ’Greener Gardens’ project that looks at how gardens of new homes can be used to contribute to green infrastructure, biodiversity and storm water management.

The project features a number of strands - all designed to encourage the development of sustainable places – including installation of demonstration rain gardens, academic research, provision of water butts as part of the package for new homeowners, and raising awareness by promoting the benefits of rain gardens both to homeowners and the wider housebuilding industry.

Dr Rebecca Wade from the Urban Water Technology Centre (UWTC) at Abertay University said: “At Abertay University we are training the next generation of sustainability-informed engineers, and that includes working with schools. It is a pleasure to be working with Holytown Primary School, the teachers and pupils have been wonderful, the pupils loved the activities and asked fantastic questions.

“We will continue to support them as they develop a plan to design and build a rain garden in their school grounds. Abertays’ civil and environmental engineers believe that working in collaboration industry can really make a difference; in fact, all of our degree students are guaranteed a work placement during their studies. By working together, with industry and communities we can help deliver better environments which work harder for us – providing communities with attractive areas to live and play, supporting nature, and tackling flooding and climate change issues too.”

Raising the awareness of this innovative project has overall benefits for a wide audience as Stephen Andrew, Technical Director for Taylor Wimpey West Scotland explained: “Along with our project partners we are leading the way both in research and analysis of rain gardens at plot level.

“We’re delighted to have played our part in facilitating a visit from the Primary Five year group at Holytown Primary to the Torrance Park Water Project. The team really enjoyed the opportunity to explain why the inclusion of rain gardens within new home garden can contribute positively to help the industry deal with storm water management in a sustainable way as a source control SUDS technique.” 

Lynne Brennan, Headteacher at Holytown Primary said: “Our children had a great time with the Greener Gardens project team learning more about the importance of creating sustainable ways of dealing with rainwater. We’re very committed to this project, and by extending our partnership with members of the team we are considering how we might include a rain garden within our school grounds.”

James Travers, associate at WSP, said: “At WSP we pride ourselves on being innovative solution providers in the built environment. The opportunity to work with our client and academic partners on this community project is an excellent way of showcasing our passion for design innovation. It is also an opportunity for us to engage wider by giving something back to communities and help raise awareness of the importance and benefit of STEM within schools.

“We are looking forward to working with the school further as the project progresses with some practical and fun activities that can really bring this to life for the pupils.”

Homeowners are also being encouraged to get involved and to highlight the importance that Greener Gardens will play in the future, Taylor Wimpey West Scotland, Scottish Government and CSGNT have joined forces to provide and install a free 200 litre water butt to the first 80 new homes at the Torrance Park development. These will act as a visible reminder to residents about the need to be more aware of water use and how little changes can have a big impact on the environment.

And as part of the overall approach to creating a Greener Garden the project team has created a homeowners’ leaflet that encourages homeowners to consider how they might achieve a rain garden in their own garden, and how a water butt provides a useful way to conserve and use rainwater effectively as a first step towards achieving a sustainable Greener Garden. 

The project team has also collaborated to create a ‘Developer’s Guide’ that aims to introduce the concept of greener gardens to the wider housebuilding industry, and provide guidance on how small changes can make a huge impact on the wider green infrastructure, bio-diversity and storm water management and how their future developments can embrace this thinking.

A copy of this guide is available at www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org/greenergardens.

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