The Northeast Green Campus sits at the heart of the First Ward in the Holland neighborhood and encompasses Jackson Square Park, the Holland Flood Mitigation Basin and Edison High School’s campus and athletic fields. The Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association, Minneapolis Public Schools, City of Minneapolis Public Works and Mississippi Watershed Management Organization have worked over the course of several years on a series of cutting-edge sustainability projects that have improved the environmental health of this area while also offering significant opportunities for sustainability outreach, education and green economy jobs training. Educational signage throughout the Northeast Green Campus area highlight and explain the various stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs).
Phase I: Edison High School Parking Lot
In 2013 the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) funded a complete renovation of the Edison High School parking lot. The purpose of the renovation was to install innovative stormwater recapture infrastructure to ensure that the parking lot could manage the water generated by a 4” rain event by retaining it onsite rather than allowing it to enter the storm sewer system and, ultimately, the Mississippi River. The stormwater infrastructure incorporated into the parking lot includes a Swedish tree trench down the center of the lot. Tree trenches use a combination of non-compacted soils and rock to create an environment that can more efficiently absorb rainwater and that promotes healthier tree growth within an urban setting. The addition of trees also counteracts the heat island effect.
The south end of the parking lot is paved in permeable material with a 4-foot underground storage tank underneath. That infrastructure allows the area to absorb and process stormwater. A biofiltration swale has also been installed at the southwest corner of the lot. This is a modified raingarden specifically designed to capture stormwater coming from the alley.
Water monitoring equipment was installed in the biofiltration swale in the early spring of 2015, allowing for ongoing analysis of both the volume and the quality of the water that is passing through the parking lot's Swedish tree trench. Stantec, the engineering firm that undertook the parking lot renovation, provided the grant funds for the water monitoring equipment, as well as for paid internships for the students doing the actual monitoring. The monitoring is being overseen by Dr. Bruce Wilson, a professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Wilson’s work focuses on erosion mechanics and hydrologic/water quality processes of watersheds.
Green Light Project
HNIA and Center for Energy & Environment (CEE) collaborated on an energy efficiency awareness public art project at the Edison parking lot through CEE’s “Art as Energy” initiative. It consists of a core of 6 artworks ranging in height from 9 to 12 feet, created with Cor-ten steel, sculpted green jade float glass, fiber-optic lighting and programmable, color-changing LED lamps
Initially the sculpture group is orange, representing the current baseline of gas and electricity consumption in the surrounding community. As energy conservation in the surrounding Holland neighborhood improves due to CEE weatherization efforts the light will change color, with the ultimate goal of saving energy equivalent to the amount needed to power Edison High School. When 25% of the goal is achieved, the light will shift from orange to red; at the 50% point, the light will move from red to purple; at the 75% point, the lights will change from purple to blue. At the 100% point will alternate between blue and green.
This dynamic process serves as an outward and visible symbol of responsible resource management and energy conservation. It will be accompanied by a partnership between CEE and the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association (HNIA) to promote energy audits and energy conservation improvements in the Holland neighborhood. This partnership will chart a unique pathway of collaboration that can serve as a model for other neighborhoods and organizations.
Edison High School Athletic Field
At a time when many schools have focused on the installation of artificial turf, which increases the heat island effect, Edison High School made the greener choice to upgrade their natural turf athletic field. A partnership between the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings, LISC, ECSF and MPS has led to a sustainable redesign of Edison's athletic field that incorporates cutting-edge infrastructure to enhance storm water management onsite. The field has been re-graded and sodded with a capillary turf system, and new drain tile and goal posts have been installed. The irrigation system allows for irrigation of the field from recaptured rainwater through the Phase II project.
Phase II: Gym Roof, Green House, Community Garden and Community Plaza
This phase of the multi-year sustainability initiative included a new grand entrance to the Edison athletic field, a concession building, greenhouse, community garden and underground storage tanks that will hold stormwater runoff collected from the gym roof, plaza, field and parking lot. With a capacity of 110,900 gallons, this stormwater reuse system is anticipated to meet most or all of the athletic field’s irrigation needs in a given year. Live data from the reuse system is online and displayed on digital signage near the field.
The greenhouse and student-created community garden offer Edison students hands-on urban agriculture opportunities through Edison’s partnership with Spark-Y, a local non-profit that focuses on youth education in the areas of sustainability and entrepreneurship, while the entire Green Campus will function as an outdoor classroom and laboratory. Project partners included MWMO, Minneapolis Public Schools, Spark-Y and HNIA.
Phase III: Solar Installation
Xcel Energy partnered with Edison High School and Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association (HNIA) to install a 48-kilowatt solar array at the Northeast Green Campus. The solar arrays, which are located on the roofs of the school and gym, as well as a solar canopy over the Edison Community Plaza, will provide enough electricity to power about half the school’s annual energy needs.
The solar array will also provide students hands-on experience. Students will benefit directly from the solar installation by learning about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related to renewable energy. Solar energy kits have been purchased for in-class use, and students eighth grade and older will learn about subjects ranging from atomic theory in chemistry, to ‘energy units’ that look at how energy is converted from one substance, such as light, to electricity. Real-time data on solar production from the school’s solar array will be available in the classroom and is expected to be used in future math and science courses.
This $1.7-million project was funded through a $917,250 Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund grant, as well as additional funds from HNIA and the State of Minnesota. Sundial Energy helped assist Minneapolis Public Schools manage the project over a years-long development period.
Phase IV: Water Works
This James Brenner sculpture is located at the center of the Northeast Green Campus, adjacent to the Edison High School Gym, and it reinforces the connections between the stormwater management at the site and the impact on the Mississippi River. Three abstracted “Rain Clouds” represent the hydrological cycle of water evaporation, cloud formation and rainfall. An Illuminated “River”, that frames the sculpture, highlights its location at the Watershed Gateway to the Mississippi River, with an arrow in raised aluminum denoting the direction to the Mississippi River.