res·to·ra·tion de·vel·op·ment /restəˈrāSH(ə)n dəˈveləpmənt/
The process of assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded, damaged, or destroyed while making an area of land more suitable for human use. Restoration establishes the ecological processes necessary to make native terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems sustainable, resilient, and healthy under current and future conditions. Development deploys best practices for minimizing human impact to the restored ecosystem in terms of energy demand, water consumption, waste management, carbon footprint, and other environmental considerations. Restoration development produces economic conditions whereby private business entities have appropriate incentive to invest private capital for public benefit (credit: Army Corps of Engineers definition of ecosystem restoration).
How was restoration development invented? Over 10 years ago, Ben Parker started researching solutions to restore Utah Lake’s ecosystem. His education and experience as an engineer prepared him to apply rigorous and disciplined engineering to the problems plaguing the Lake. Through years of research and study, he engineered an elegant solution to restore the Utah Lake ecosystem, including removing 400 million tons of nutrient pollution from the lakebed, forming islands on the lake to store the dredged material and control wave action and reduce evaporation, replacing invasive plant and animal species with native species, and restoring the water quality and clarity.
The solution lacked a key ingredient – funding. Initial cost projections showed the project would be too expensive for a nonprofit organization or government grant. Further investigation showed great promise for developing the land on the islands for homes to cover the costs with private investment. He then collaborated with environmentalists, urban and landscape designers, and business and finance professionals to design the world’s first restoration development.
No organization has ever restored an ecosystem on the scale of Utah Lake, and funding the effort with private investment with concurrent development is the innovation that makes the project feasible.
Ben didn’t want to create a typical development, which would likely undermine much of the environmental restoration effort, so he began researching best practices around the globe and found that building a city from the ground up presented incredible opportunities for environmental stewardship in the development itself. Here are a few examples:
- This will be the first city in the United States where every building constructed would be LEED certified
- More than 50% of energy powering the city will be derived from green energy
- More than 40% of household potable water will be conserved by separating gray and black water systems
- More than 60% of irrigation water will be saved using subsurface irrigation with gray water reuse
- Use of geothermal heating and cooling will greatly reduce energy consumption
- Below grade pneumatic trash removal system will convey trash to a clean waste-to-energy facility, reducing landfill demand by 90
- Storm water runoff will pass through bio-filtration before re-entering the Lake
- Utilities will be housed in accessible underground tunnels and provide monitoring and secondary containment for all utilities
Restoration development™ is the way of the future, and the Utah Lake Restoration Project is proud to introduce this concept to the world.