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Sustainable Practices at Camp Wakeman – An Engineer’s Unique Privilege and Challenge in the Design Implementation

Written by: Nick Barr – Design Engineer

Working with clients who place good resource stewardship at the top of their priority list are some of the most rewarding to work with . . . since stewardship drives our firm’s objectives too. Camp Wakeman was one of those projects–and more.

As a project partner for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, we made their vision come to life for a youth camp and adult retreat center. The center is meant to be a camping sanctuary, but it also features a working, sustainable farm that gives campers the opportunity to connect with nature in an educational and informative fashion.

Their overall vision for the camp is to be largely self-sustaining, with help from campers to cultivate the crops in the organic farm, and to maintain and respect its rain gardens and bio-swales. It’s the recycled stormwater from underground cisterns that will be used to water the gardens and landscaping. The buildings will be energy efficient, and even the waste from the toilets will be composted. It’s amazing to see and implement so many opportunities for sustainability.

The challenge and the privilege for us was designing much of the infrastructure to support their vision. We worked closely with the Diocese as well as the architect to develop a plan that was efficient, functional and effective. Designing the site work, utilities and stormwater management features was a unique opportunity, and it was impressive to fully grasp the reaches of sustainable practices the Diocese intended to implement.

Stormwater collection

Some of the work was especially challenging. For instance, we implemented a way to make installing pipes sustainable! In order to be conscious of the environment, we were intentional about giving directions to the contractor about where to park equipment and store materials as well as recommendations for preserving top soil and protecting trees. We did our very best to preserve its key natural features such as fields and orchards when we demolished the building, installed pipes, tanks or driveways. Horizontal drilling was the method we used to minimize impacts to ground features when drilling for HDPE water lines, sanitary force mains, electrical conduits and communication ducts.

By thinking through every aspect of how to best preserve the property and set up the Camp to incorporate sustainable practices, we laid a foundation that will enable its campers to learn about recycling, gardening, raising animals and water conservation.

For campers, it’s an opportunity to engage in a hands-on experience. It’s learning a manner of living that is self-sustaining– to live as good environmental stewards. As we look forward to fast-approaching construction in the coming weeks, the possible impacts of Camp Wakeman will be limitless—for the environment, for the Diocese and each camper’s spirituality.


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