Ecological Design & Restoration
Great Ecology understands that Ecological Design & Restoration are critical components to building a more sustainable and resilient future. Our high-functioning, low-maintenance solutions allow businesses and governments to maximize the benefit of public and private spaces while reducing management and maintenance costs. We have experience on projects ranging in size from less than one acre to more than 4,000 acres as well as projects that take a watershed-level view of ecological function.
At Great Ecology, our planners and landscape architects work side-by-side with our ecologists and environmental scientists. This multidisciplinary team approach allows us to streamline our Ecological Design & Restoration services.
Within this core service area we specialize in:
- Constructed Treatment Wetlands
- Green Infrastructure
- Stormwater Management
- Habitat Restoration
- Parks, Open Space, & Outdoor Recreation Planning
- Landscape Typology
- Landscape Architecture
- Resiliency Planning
- Master Planning
- Environmental Compliance & Permitting
Constructed treatment wetlands use natural components including wetland vegetation, substrate, and microbes to improve water quality before it is reused onsite or enters the watershed. Great Ecology designs constructed wetlands to meet the objectives of each individual project. Design criteria may include removal of targeted contaminants, water quality requirements, spatial limitations, context within the landscape/site, and aesthetic value. Where necessary, multi-stage treatment wetlands may include multiple treatment methods, such as pairing of vertical and free surface water wetlands to remove nutrients in two stages.
Featured Project: Del Mar Constructed Wetlands
Green infrastructure aims to resolve urban and climate challenges by designing and building with nature. Green infrastructure can include rain gardens; constructed wetlands; green roofing; vegetated swales; and other constructed areas as well as the preservation and restoration of natural areas, such as wetlands and stream buffers. Green infrastructure has the ability to reduce the impact of flooding and storm surge events, reduce the impact of the heat island effect, increase water capture, and more.
We take pride in incorporating green infrastructure principles and practices into our design to help create resilient ecosystems.
Featured Project: New Stapleton Phase II & III
Stormwater management is important to maintaining healthy waterways that comply with the Clean Water Act and for improving infiltration of surface water from storm events into underground aquifers. Stormwater management planning can include rain gardens, vegetated buffers, detention and retention ponds, constructed wetlands, daylighting creeks, and more.
Great Ecology understands that restoring habitat is a critical part of developing a resilient and sustainable future. We have extensive experience in restoring a variety of habitat types ranging from tidal and freshwater wetlands, upland forests and grasslands, streams and rivers, vernal pools, and more. This includes restoration and reclamation after forest fire, landslides, and flood events as well as converting brownfields to greenfields, targeted restoration to stop ecological degradation before it worsens, and more. Restoration may include revegetation with ecotypic plants, stream bank stabilization, improvement or reconstruction of fragile habitats such as vernal pools, reconnecting floodplains, and other methods to restore or improve ecosystem function.
Parks & Open Space
Great Ecology has overseen parks, open space, and outdoor recreation opportunities from pre-planning meetings through post-construction monitoring, integrated landscape typology into open space management planning, and helped manage the conversion of brownfields into areas with public access. Some of our on high-profile parks and open space projects throughout the country, include: Brooklyn Bridge Park (New York), Central Park (New York), Trinity River Park (Dallas), La Lomita (Denver), Stapleton Open Space (Denver), Globeville Landing (Denver), and Del Mar Fairgrounds (San Diego).
Our Parks & Open Space work includes public outreach, planning, permitting, design, trail planning, open space preservation construction oversight, and monitoring. We work with land planners and managers to develop efficient designs and management plans. We take pride in creating parks projects that encourage people to interact with the environment.
Great Ecology developed the Landscape Typology, a novel approach for land management that helps land managers and land owners better understand and manage their land assets. This includes GIS analysis, ground-truthing, analysis of ecosystem function, analysis of landscape type function, identifying opportunities for improving functionality, identifying opportunities to streamline maintenance procedures or reduce costs, and management planning. We can apply Landscape Typology to a single piece of property or to multiple properties, such as all parks maintained by a city or other municipality.
At Great Ecology, our landscape architects work side-by-side with our ecologists. Through this collaboration of art and science, our design method supports the deliberate use of scientific knowledge to make decisions about the use and shape of the land. We ascribe to the philosophy of creating design solutions that are “highly suited for their specific environment”, designed to enhance and support the local ecosystems natural processes while considering the sustainability and longevity of the proposed design. We approach landscape design with an ecological lens—by designing landscapes to be resilient in the long-term through understanding site-specific biotic and abiotic ecological functions and applying innovative design solutions that have been fine-tuned through lessons learned from previous project efforts.
Ecology requires us to recognize the interconnection between myriad components of an ecosystem--both biotic and abiotic. To better prepare for a future that includes sea-level rise, stronger and more frequent storms, increased likelihood of wildland fires, and more, Great Ecology plans for and designs low-maintenance, high-functioning landscapes designed to be resilient. Our planned projects utilize native plants; mimic or restore natural and/or historic water courses; and include a diversity of flora, which helps create habitat for a variety of fauna as means of helping create rich ecosystems. We work closely with regulators to ensure that our projects meet or exceed compliance standards, and coordinate with other local stakeholders to help achieve multiple project goals.
We have modeled sea-level rise for a major estuary as well as for mitigation banks; converted brownfields into no-irrigation open spaces filled with colorful native grasses; supported permitting of new solar farms; developed and permitted waterfront parks designed to withstand periodic inundation from major storm events; and offered wildland fire recovery ecological assessment and planning; among other projects. Our future-focused outlook are designed to offer long term ecological integrity to our clients.
Our work at Great Ecology to assist clients with long-term, comprehensive master planning aims to promote sustainable communities that endeavor to effectively manage a broad range of complex, overlapping processes that exist within and between our natural and human systems. We understand that master planning requires a holistic approach to decision-making with consideration given to social, economic, urban, regional, natural resource management & land use, infrastructure systems and governance frameworks. We take a holistic approach to create these “living” guidance documents, providing a holistic framework to guide present and future decision-making that integrate environmental planning tools with the consideration of governing social and environmental regulations and the ability to analyze social and environmental issues. We are familiar and have the capacity to perform most master planning tasks, with assistance from key project partners, from analysis, site data gathering, public outreach and meeting leadership, visual studies, feasibility, and final document preparation.
Environmental Compliance & Permitting
Great Ecology designs with environmental compliance and permitting in mind. Our in-house team collaborates to help ensure that designs will meet regulatory compliance standards, which allows us to expedite the permitting process when necessary. Our offices across the country allow us to be well-situated to understand a variety of local, state, and federal regulatory environments.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, pictured in the background, shows the nexus of several of our specialties within Ecological Design & Restoration. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a privately-owned park maintained by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, a not-for-profit, which worked for 30 years to create "a dynamic and vibrant public space for all of Brooklyn, New York City, and beyond." We are proud to have helped design a project that converted industrial piers into a public asset. The completed project restores habitat and public access--and provides opportunity for business and social connections--which help foster improved ecological, social, and economic health.
Great Ecology provided ecological guidance for the intertidal zone, tidal and freshwater wetlands, and stormwater management. Our design included the placement of white cedar stakes as refugia for shellfish at Pier 1, an innovative feature designed to promote shellfish population growth. Learn more about our work on Brooklyn Bridge Park.