Latest Sustainability Initiative at the Cambrian Rise Site: Silva Cells

By: Farrell Properties | June 15, 2019

Another sustainability initiative is in the works at Cambrian Rise.

When rain falls on towns and cities, much of it flows off impervious surfaces like  driveways, streets, and sidewalks into the storm drain system, which in turn drains into the nearest waterway. In urban locations without trees, forests or reinforced soil, this storm water can erode stream banks and increase water pollution. In order to prevent these outcomes, the installation of Silva Cells at Cambrian Rise is crucial to the health of Lake Champlain.

Streetside Trees & Permeable Solutions

In an earlier blog post, the Impact of Street Trees and Landscaping, the benefit of trees within urban environments was proven to have a measurable influence on a neighborhood's residents. This study, led by Marc Berman, found that "roadside trees have a bigger impact on air quality along sidewalks," or that "leafy avenues encourage people to walk more," having proven that  "trees on a given block corresponded to a 1% increase in how healthy nearby residents felt."

In order to provide a calming, inviting outdoor environment for the Cambrian Rise residents that also manages storm water runoff effectively and safely, we have recently started installing Silva Cells. 

What is a Silva Cell?

The Silva Cell is a modular suspended pavement system (a method that supports the weight of paving and creates a subsurface void space that is filled with loose soil for root growth), that allows soil to nurture mature tree growth and provide powerful on-site storm water management, bringing the function of the forest to the city. 

Silva Cell

Silva Cells provide storm water benefits that rival traditional bio-retention, and in some applications, has performed better than traditional bio-retention.

What is bio-retention?

Bio-retention is the process in which contaminants and sedimentation are removed from storm water runoff. In traditional bio-retention, storm water is collected into the treatment area which consists of a grass buffer strip, sand bed, ponding area, organic and/or mulch layer, planting soil, and plants. It is a water quality and quantity control practice that uses the physical, biological and chemical properties of plants, microbes and soils to remove pollutants from storm water runoff. Bio-retention is an incredible tool for low-impact development, keeping water where it falls so that it can be cleaned, cooled, and recharged.

Silve Cell Installation at CR

Silva Cell Installation at Cambrian Rise, June 2019

Silva Cells and the Trees at Cambrian Rise

Healthy trees don’t just provide a nesting place for birds, shade on hot summer days, or a great place to hang a swing, they are essential for our health as well. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide from the air, and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a day's supply of oxygen for four people.

At Cambrian Rise we are doing our part to create healthy communities, both above ground and below.

By installing this Silva Cell framework at Cambrian Rise, we can ensure a healthy environment for our ‘other’ residents - trees and other plant life. The earth, or soil in which these plants will grow must provide both a healthy environment for the plants as well as be an integral part of the many systems that we are incorporating at Cambrian Rise as part of our commitment to create a sustainable neighborhood.


Posted on June 15, 2019 updated on June 11, 2019

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