Yalies Bring Green Infrastructure to Campus

Sage Hall in the School of Forestry is now home to a new rain garden, designed by Caitlin Feehan (FES ’14) and Cary Simmons (YC ’15) to lessen the detrimental effects of storm water runoff.

During heavy storms, runoff rushes over hard surfaces like concrete, collecting pollutants along the way. The polluted runoff threatens water quality and overwhelms sewer systems. As an innovative solution, the newly built Sage Hall garden catches excess water in varying levels, and helps water soak into the ground with carefully selected plants and soils.

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Photo by Stephen Le Breton

Sage Hall had been a major priority area to Yale for improvement of the storm runoff system. When Simmons and Feehan looked around for a place to implement their sustainable plan, they decided to focus on their own backyard.

“We went to [F&ES Dean Peter Crane] not exactly expecting a lot of support, but people were excited,” explained Simmons.

Working with the planning office, Simmons and Feehan designed the garden, chose the plants, and managed a budget from the Yale Office of Facilities, which installed the structure. Sage Hall’s previous front had been a lawn, which as Simmons described, “was a patch of landscape sitting around not contributing to the environment.” Now, it is not only environmentally functional but also provides a scenic spot for students to enjoy.

With the success of the project, Simmons hopes it is another step in the trend of finding opportunities to use underutilized spaces in sustainable ways.