Best Green Project: Orange County Great Park - South Lawn Project, Irvine

Photo courtesy of MCK Associates/ Fernanda Miranda
Storm water runoff from 150 acres of the Great Park property is collected and stored in six open-water vegetated ponds.
Photo courtesy of Orange County Great Park
The project is located next to the the South Lawn soccer complex.

Orange County Great Park revamped a former Superfund site to create a stormwater capture and reuse facility. The $23-million South Lawn Project collects and stores runoff from 150 acres in six open-water ponds near the park's recently completed soccer complex.

Vegetated swales capture the stormwater and use plants to pretreat runoff. Wetland treatment "benches" along pond perimeters further treat the water. The ponds can store 15 acre ft of water using gravity conveyance—pumps and electricity are not needed.

The system supplies more than half of the irrigation needs for the soccer complex and also controls pollutants in two downstream bodies of water by reducing the offsite discharge of untreated stormwater flows.

Early on, park developers determined a list of 12 sustainability goals in the master plan, including biodiversity, air quality, land sustainability, energy reduction and social aspects, such as visitor well-being, heritage preservation and inclusiveness. Best Projects judges praised the project team for showcasing all of these sustainability goals in the finished product, making the park an example for educating visitors about environmental health.

The water treatment components stand out as the most visible green infrastructure features at the site, but the project also generates onsite energy, used salvaged and recycled construction materials and reduced indoor water use through low-flow fixtures.

Key Players

Contractors USS Cal Builders; MCK Associates

Owner Orange County Great Park Corp.

Lead Design Firms Sherwood Design Engineers; URS Corp.

Landscape Architect Bellinger Foster Steinmetz Landscape Architecture

Architect of Record WRNS Studio