Lincoln, Nebraska Takes Innovative Steps To Build A Green City Through Seven Projects To Grow Local Economy
City Officials and Local Landscape Architecture Firms Use Silva Cell from DeepRoot to Grow Mature Urban Trees and Help Attract New Businesses
Though many do not know it yet, Lincoln, Nebraska is steadily leading the way in developing one of the greenest, tree-filled communities in the nation. Through the use of the Silva Cell, which creates an underground framework that provides soil access for trees to grow healthily, the city has built green spaces that would have previously seemed impossible. City officials are optimistic that the tree-filled cityscape will encourage more businesses to call Lincoln home, thereby growing the local economy.
“There is a large body of research that shows that business centers with large, mature trees lead to lower vacancy rates in business developments, and lease rates per square foot can be up to 12% higher,” stated Peter MacDonagh of The Kestrel Design Group, one of the leading landscape architecture firms advancing the use of the Silva Cell in the region. “Trees are also correlated with lower crime, reduced traffic speeds and help create a stronger sense of community. It makes sense that Lincoln would want to focus on projects like these,” he added.
The Silva Cell, recently recognized by Washington state as a stormwater and bioretention management solution, has long been used by designers on project sites where there is a desire to plant and maintain large trees but there is limited space for open planters due to paving. Two landscape architecture firms working in Nebraska, The Clark Enersen Partners and The Kestrel Design Group, began collaborating with numerous City Departments including Parks and Recreation, Public Works and Utilities and Urban Development on projects that utilized the Silva Cell with the hope that their efforts could serve as a model for other cities.
“Lincoln leaders have been very thoughtful about how we can stand out as a city,” stated Dennis Scheer, Senior Principal of The Clark Enersen Partners. “Trees are not only making our city more beautiful; they are also integral to our approach of managing stormwater. Specifically, tree roots and canopies prevent hundreds of thousands of gallons of stormwater from entering our sewers, creeks and streams,” he added.
There have already been six Silva Cell installations in Lincoln. The largest project to use the Silva Cells is at the Centennial Mall, which is part of an ongoing $9 million project to make improvements to “Nebraska’s front door to the State Capitol.” The trees serve as a gateway to this historic site, frame the Capitol and create a walking mall that is quickly becoming home to many thriving businesses. It also serves as an entrance to the University of Nebraska, which is connected to the Capitol by the mall. Within 20 years, the 100 trees receiving over 20,000 cubic feet of soil within the Silva Cells will have trunks that are approximately 40 feet tall. This would be unheard of without the product.
At Union Plaza, a new, three-block long urban park, Silva Cells are part of a large community area that includes water features, a festival space, a children’s play area, outdoor plaza seating, a new trail connection and more.
“Lincoln is showing that every city can be a green city,” stated Graham Ray, President of DeepRoot. “The 260,000 local residents are fortunate to have local leaders and developers who value communication, collaboration and dialogue. Through their efforts, Lincoln will continue to be a vibrant city,” he added.
As cities in the U.S. increasingly compete with one another to attract companies, Lincoln believes that trees are an important and inexpensive investment that will give them a big advantage. As the thousands of trees in Nebraska continue to grow, they will offer economic, ecological and community benefits to local residents. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/silvacell
For nearly 40 years, DeepRoot has helped cities, contractors and communities find solutions that help them build the livable cities that they desire. Our mission is to create a more livable built environment by using green infrastructure like trees, soil, and on-site stormwater management. With locations in the U.S., Canada and the UK, we are expanding solutions to enhance urban landscapes in city streets, parking lots, campuses, and other heavily-paved areas. For more information, visit www.deeproot.com