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Water Workshop to Float Design Tools for Local Architects

The Water Workshop: Analyzing the Site – Opportunities and Constraints presented by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Santa Barbara, will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 7 at the AIA Santa Barbara Chapter House, 229 E. Victoria St.

The workshop will offer tools to help designers understand site hydrology and collaborate more effectively. Speakers will present key components of best practices from their areas of water expertise, including low-impact design, civil engineering, and landscape architecture.

“Water is an issue of great importance in Santa Barbara. After facing a record drought we must turn our focus onto how we, as design professionals, can make changes to our community’s understanding and treatment of its watershed," said Matt Gries, of AIA.

"The Water Workshop and Water Commons Index will attempt to bridge existing gaps and pain points between designers, clients, engineers and regulatory agencies to push Santa Barbara into a future focused on balancing the watershed,” he said.

The workshop is expected to be of interest to architects and design professionals working to address water sustainability in the Santa Barbara area, a location with specific water issues and needs ranging from conservation to storm water runoff management.

Attendees will learn best practices for coordinating with civil and landscape architects at the concept stage of a project to ensure the best results for site hydrology; and interpret interdependencies governing hydrology, ecology and climate using map overlays.

The concept of the Water Commons Index will be explained, and attendees will learn about how it is being developed to identify important sites. Finally, the workshop will cover low-impact design strategies and practices for different project types and site conditions.

Speakers are:

» Cathleen Garnand, a civil engineer and interim manager for the county of Santa Barbara Project Clean Water Program.

Garnand oversees implementation of the county’s NPDES Municipal General Permit requirements, including review of land-development projects for consistency with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Post-Construction Requirements.
» Ben Best, an environmental data scientist with a background in marine spatial ecology.

Through his EcoQuants consultancy, he is working with the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network and National Renewable Energy Labs.

He has taught courses at the Bren School and was the senior analyst for the Ocean Health Index. He recently completed a Ph.D at Duke University in the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab.

» Matt Gries, a licensed architect at DesignARC and a member of the CEC Partnership Council.

For some 14 years, he has focused on resource, climatology and sustainability issues that are inherently tied to the design process, with a particular interest in solving problems related to water management.

He is working with the AIA Santa Barbara to promote a bottom-up approach to architecture and landscape design that is more deeply integrated with Santa Barbara’s complex water scenario.

» Meg West, a licensed landscape architect with a focus on sustainable living.

West was inspired to run for a seat on the Goleta Water District Board of Directors in 2014 after serving on the Goleta Planning Commission. She spent the next two years immersed in water policy, wondering if it would ever rain again.

Facing this drought head-on has deepened her understanding of water issues. She is now active in local and statewide efforts to promote and implement integrated solutions for water supply, soil health, pollution and climate.

— Tara Rizzi for AIA Santa Barbara.

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