Newsroom | Sustainability Key in Latest Guidelines for Public Works Construction

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Sustainability is more than just a concept or a catchphrase; it also is crucial to business and the environment. This sustainability update focuses on the MAG landscape and irrigation specifications and detail drawings.

New landscape and irrigation specifications and details now available

Specs and Details

Sustainability is more than just a concept or a catchphrase; it also is crucial to business and the environment. That is why the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), along with Arizona State University’s Sustainable Cities Network (SCN) Green Infrastructure Workgroup, has significantly updated a portion of the Uniform Standard Specifications and Details for Public Works Construction book.

The sustainability update focuses on the MAG landscape and irrigation specifications and detail drawings. The existing MAG landscape specifications underwent a lengthy review and were updated to reflect current industry standards and best practices. More than 40 local experts from the municipal, landscape, design and academic sectors all contributed their expertise to the project.
 

New guidelines

The updated standards provide a new set of guidelines for public works construction and new opportunities for contractors to create more environmentally-friendly projects. Examples could include salvaging and transplanting native plants or installing water-saving irrigation systems.

Sections dealing with topsoils, landscaping, landscape irrigation, and related materials were all rewritten and expanded. The updated standards provide guidelines for the common types of landscaping seen on any public right-of-way.

The revisions provide a substantial number of new standards that:

  • Establish a baseline for action and performance for a variety of everyday activities
  • Standardize landscape contracting requirements
  • Reduce design and construction administration costs
  • Provide a shared resource for local communities

“The updates represent the collective contributions of a broad group of landscape-related individuals and organizations,” said Wayne Colebank, a landscape architect with Logan Simpson and chair of the Landscaping and Irrigation Subgroup. “The updates fill in the gaps and establish the construction requirements for a wider array of activities and improvements.”

The update also includes 45 landscape and irrigation details developed to illustrate the construction process. The new details are grouped into categories such as: 

  • Staking and planting natural vegetation
  • Hardscape landscaping
  • Irrigation system components, including pipes, trenches, valves, emitters, and controls
     

Sample detail drawings including a trench detail, palm tree planting, and sprinkler head installation.

Plenty of teamwork

Updating that many standards takes a lot of teamwork. Ryan Nichols is a supervising engineer with the City of Mesa and the current MAG Standard Specifications and Details Committee chair. 

“The committee emphasizes involving and incorporating feedback from all facets of the industry when working on standards,” Nichols said.

That feedback was evident in the latest update by the collaboration between regional partners and an extensive collection of design and construction professionals – each representing different industry groups and organizations.  

“Each of their contributions was key to these standards updates,” Nichols added.
 

Creating green infrastructure

Peter Kandaris, an engineer with DiGioiaGray and MAG Outside Right-of-Way Working Group chair says there is a reason why these new standards are in place. “Continuing these partnerships and incorporating more low-impact development specifications and details into the MAG standards will help to improve the region’s green infrastructure,” Kandaris said.

Four years ago, ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network (SCN) Green Infrastructure Workgroup published the regional resource Greater Phoenix Metro Green Infrastructure Handbook: Low Impact Development (LID) Details for Alternative Stormwater Management (LID Handbook) and has since launched an ongoing effort with regional partners and MAG to revise and update LID and green infrastructure standards and specifications. 

Anne Reichman, director of ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network, said, “With Valley cities facing further drought and climate conditions, it is important to provide standard updates that support the increased use of green infrastructure and LID by cities, towns, and the development community.”

The updated standards will benefit MAG regional partners, other cities and towns in Arizona, and private companies that use MAG’s standards for their projects.

The new landscaping and irrigation standards are included in MAG’s 2023 Revision of the Uniform Standard Specifications and Details for Public Works Construction. Free downloads are available on the Specifications and Details project page, and hard copies can be purchased online.

Published January 30, 2023

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