Going Green

Big Bellies: Trash that Works!

We’re finding more ways to Go Green!  The first installation of many planned BigBelly Trash Compactors was added to the Downtown Greenway at Morehead Park—and it’s no average trash receptacle!  The BigBelly, one of 15,000 in use worldwide, is transforming the environmentally and economically burdening trash collection industry.  According to the June 2012 issue of Time Magazine:

“The future of garbage is greener, cleaner, smarter and cheaper to pick up.”

BigBellies hold five times more trash than the average canall due to their solar-powered compactors.  Not only is the BigBelly self-compacting, it also sends a wireless update to the City of Greensboro to let them know when it’s time for a pickup.  That way, the City uses fewer resources.  There’s no need to send a team out to empty trash receptacles that are only half full.  There are BigBellies on Morehead Park, Meeting Place at Tradition Cornerstone, and Woven Works Park at Innovation Cornerstone.

Learn more about how the Greenway is staying on the forefront of this trend with our BigBelly solar panel trash cans.  And you can catch a BigBelly in action at the Downtown Greenway Morehead Park Trailhead parking area and at the Tradition Cornerstone at the corner of Smith and Prescott Streets!

Eco-Gardens: Keeping Our Water Supply Clean

The City of Greensboro is currently testing storm water tree wells on the newly constructed section of the Downtown Greenway on West Smith Street at Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments.  Additional tree wells have been installed on recently open sections on Smith Street between Prescott and Spring Streets and along Bragg Street between Elm and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  They will also be installed along Phase 2 on Murrow Blvd. The tree wells will improve water quality by filtering storm water and cleaning rainwater run-off through specially constructed soil in the tree well.

So how does it work?

Water flows into the tree wells by large cuts built into the framework.  Once the water enters the tree well, it’s filtered through a special mix of soil: peat moss, leaf compost, sand, clay, and gravel.  The sand and gravel act as a natural trap for grit and automotive fluids that settle on the blacktop and wash away when it rains.  The plants also remove nitrogen and phosphorous from the water and leave it cleaner as it enters our water supply.

All in all, the tree wells look like normal planting beds, except that the plants are situated below ground level.  This allows for enough time for the soil and plants to do their work and for the water to drain properly.  The tree wells are built to accommodate up to 15 inches of rain per hour.  Amazing!

Watch for more Going Green innovations on the Downtown Greenway in the future.  For more information on our Going Green storm water treatment system, check out this recent article in the Greensboro News & Record.

Lighting It Up with Solar Power

While we’re all trying to Go Green at home, the Downtown Greenway is always looking for ways to be green. With a federal energy block grant, solar-powered lighting dots the trail along the Morehead Park section of the Downtown Greenway.

The Greenway’s solar outdoor lighting combines the benefits of solar with energy-efficient LED or induction lights. The free-standing, environmentally friendly lights are completely independent from the electric grid and were certainly a cost-effective solution for our lighting needs at the time.

You can find out more about these great lights here.

Going Green with Permaculture Gardening

The Meeting Place at Tradition Cornerstone is surrounded by a fruit orchard and a native woodland. Together they provide shade, cool breezes, clean air, noise reduction and a beautiful place to relax.

The native woodland is beautiful throughout the four seasons and includes native species that provide habitat and food for birds, bees and butterflies. Some of the plantings bear edible fruit and berries too, such as blueberry, serviceberry, paw paw and elderberry.

The 17 trees of the orchard grow eight kinds of organic fruit: cherry, plum, pear, apple, fig, oriental persimmon, apricot, and quince. Some ripen mid-summer—cherry, apricot, and plum, but the rest in autumn. It’s a public orchard, so only one fruit per person!

An organic orchard requires more attention than a typical one: non-toxic sprays, organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion and compost, and regular inspection and weeding. As a Permaculture orchard, it relies on a set of plants, about 40 made up of 15 varieties, planted around each tree. They attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies and praying mantis; the idea is that insects manage other insects. In time, the entire orchard will be covered with this diverse, green mantle of supportive plants. The orchard becomes a mini-ecosystem. Charlie Headington designed the orchard and installed it with the assistance of the Greensboro Permaculture Guild.

Helping the environment with the Bird, Bee & Butterfly Pollinator Garden 

The Bird, Bee & Butterfly Pollinator Garden is located at Woven Works Park on the Downtown Greenway at the corner of Lindsay and Murrow Blvd at 401 Cumberland Street.  The garden surrounds the day-lighted stream that runs through the park and is designed to attract native pollinators. Local advocates including the T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society, the Piedmont Bird Club, the Carolina Butterfly Society, and the NC Native Plant Society assisted in the selection of plants to enhance this area. Several work days have been held to spread mulch to get the site ready for plantings and to put in plants donated by NC A&T.  Habitat loss, disease and contact with pesticides have resulted in significant declines in honeybee and other insect populations over the years. The Bird, Bee & Butterfly Garden on the Downtown Greenway is a small step towards protecting pollinators and keeping the ‘green’ in greenway.

Eagle Scout, Reid Lorenz, fabricated and installed Mason Bee houses at the Pollinator Garden and the Edible Orchard at Meeting Place on Smith Street to help attract bees necessary for pollination.  Read more about the project here.