1.5 Acres of Green Space in the Heart of Downtown Lexington
Sustainability and protecting the environment are a priority at The Living Arts & Science Center. As educators, it is also our goal to share environmental best practices and procedures to encourage others to adopt environmentally friendly methods at their home or business.
With support of the Mt. Brilliant Foundation, the Living Arts & Science Center’s grounds have transformed into an educational urban green space. The 1.5 lively acres are an ever evolving outdoor laboratory serving insects, birds and other urban wildlife, and demonstrating best practices for environmental conservation. Children, adults and families actively and passively interact with the landscape to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of our natural environment.
Designed to support urban ecology, the LASC’s playfully interactive system of interconnected rain gardens, butterfly gardens, a rainwater collection cistern, a waterfall and stream, permeable pavers, bird houses and feeders, native Kentucky flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees, and vegetable and herb gardens integrated to demonstrate numerous best practices for environmental conservation as well as support for our urban ecology.
Interpretive markers placed along the paths encourage visitors to learn more about the hundreds of native plantings. As a participant in the Urban Orchard Project, visitors can also enjoy sampling some of the fruit from trees and bushes on the grounds.
Special thanks to the Mt. Brilliant Foundation and our community partners at:
And, for the generous support of: Klausing Group Landscaping, Red Oak Landscape Lighting, Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens and Longshadow Planters
With their support, the Living Arts & Science Center has established several conservation methods and practices as we further develop our urban educational green space.
Water Quality and Conservation
Did you know that one inch of rainfall will dump over 41,000 gallons of water on the LASC grounds?
Of that amount, some water is absorbed by grass, trees and rain gardens but nearly 15,000 gallons will become runoff because some of the grounds are covered with buildings, pavement or sidewalks. This causes problems because stormwater is a leading cause of water pollution. As rain water runs across the ground it picks up debris, chemicals, hazard waste, and other pollutants and then flows untreated directly into our storm drains and, ultimately, into our streams, rivers and oceans. Since Lexington averages 45 inches of rain a year, the LASC’s location alone will produce nearly 700,000 gallons of runoff!
Here are some of the ways the LASC supports water quality and conservation:
Rain Water Cisterns
To reduce runoff into the storm drains, the LASC captures rain water from the building rooftops and downspouts and directs it into a 3000 gallon underground cistern. The cistern then pumps the rainwater into our small stream and waterfall which again recycles back into the cistern for recurring use. The rainwater in the stream supports urban wildlife such as birds, squirrels, and butterflies and can also be used for watering plants and gardens.
If the LASC’s underground cistern is full, the rain water overflow is directed into two rain gardens on the grounds. The rain gardens are planted with native Kentucky plants and the overflow of rain water is filtered by the plants and kept from flowing into storm drains.
Permeable pavers are utilized in the LASC’s parking lot and in the walking paths through the gardens. Permeable pavers allow rain water to seep into the ground, rather than running off of hard surfaces and directly back into the overworking storm drains. As the water seeps below the surface, it is naturally filtered and returns to the water table as clean water.
How You Can Help?
- Collect rainwater and cold shower water to use for watering plants. Rain barrels or even buckets can simply be located at downspouts to collect the water.
- Plant drought-resistant trees and plants.
- Don’t run the hose while washing your car.
- Limit showers to 5 minutes and install a low-flow shower head.
- Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush.
- Check faucets, pipes, and toilets for leaks.
- Use your automatic dishwasher only for full loads. Every time you run your dishwasher, you use about 25 gallons of water.
- If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing.
- Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. You can serve the same purpose by putting a stopper in the sink and filling the sink with clean water.
- Use your automatic washing machine only for full loads. Your automatic washer uses 30 to 35 gallons of water in a cycle.