New Building Features

In April 2013, the Delaware Center for Horticulture Board of Directors retained Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects, a leader in designing buildings that minimize negative environmental impact. The architects were tasked with generating a green renovation and expansion plan that enables TheDCH to continue to expand its greening and education programs statewide well into the 21st century. In June 2014, TheDCH Board voted to authorize Phase I of a $3.5 million building program.


Green construction practices: The construction project under way incorporates numerous practices that mitigate environmental impact through recycling, reducing and reusing materials. The entire construction project is part of a formal recycling program that catalogs all concrete, metal, soil and other construction waste removed from the site during demolition. At the conclusion of the project, a report will be generated detailing how many pounds of each kind of material that was recycled. The report is expected in 2015. Other beneficial construction practices include:


  • Reusing workstations donated by WSFS Bank
  • Adaptive reuse of fixtures, equipment and millwork, where appropriate
  • Disconnecting a majority of HVAC units to save energy during construction


Green facility enhancements: improves TheDCH sustainability and benefits everyone in the watershed. Stormwater runoff is an important issue. The adjacent Brandywine Creek is the drinking water source for more than 205,500 people, and in Wilmington, heavy rains often overwhelm its century-old combined sewer system, dumping untreated sewage and polluted stormwater into the watershed. TheDCH is in a Source Water Protection Area upstream of Wilmington’s drinking water supply intake. As a leader in environmental advocacy and education, our construction plans include a water cistern, two green roofs, a tree trench, permeable paving and low-flow toilets. And an important priority for the City of Wilmington: we are disconnecting the combined stormwater and sewer pipes and creating separate lines for each. Once construction is complete, the impact will be significant. Improvements will prevent up to 366,545 gallons of stormwater annually from spilling into the sewer system.


Other green improvements include:


  • Solar panels generating an estimated 11,960 kWh per year on the meeting room roof.
  • Infinity green roof (intensive and extensive) with public access for educational events
  • 2,200 gallon cistern for watering the demonstration garden and filling the tree watering truck that serves the City of Wilmington
  • Energy-efficient glazed glass atrium roof
  • High efficiency mechanical equipment, roofing & insulation improvements expected to save 5,526 kWh per year
  • Courtyard improvements, including tree trench to manage stormwater runoff onsite (Proposed for Phase II)
  • A second vegetative green roof over the hands-on, working classroom (Phase II)


Renovation and expansion elements that benefit the community:


7,000 square foot program space addition to house four program areas: Urban Agriculture, Trees, Public Landscapes and Education, so we can better serve our target communities. For example: increasingly, people living in low income urban areas face substantial barriers to fresh healthy food, with serious health ramifications.  Through Urban Agriculture we have helped build and maintain 25 community gardens. And at our flagship project, the 12th & Brandywine Urban Farm, we are producing, marketing, and selling 1,500 pounds of produce, every year, in a foodshed that badly needs it. With expanded program space we’ll be able to more effectively meet with partners and marshal volunteers and experts in this and other important environmental and social justice issues.


Improved outdoor work and storage space that helps us green communities. A robust tree canopy is important to improving air quality: 100 mature trees annually clean 5 tons of CO2, 1,000 pounds of pollutants, 400 pounds of ozone, 300 pounds of acid rain particulates, and cool urban heat islands by 20º Fahrenheit. Sadly, our tree canopies fall short of American Forests recommended 40 percent, with dangerous health related consequences. We’ve made an impact but we want to do more. With improved outdoor space for storing and preparing bare root trees for transport, we can plant 6,000 more community trees statewide by 2023.


Public meeting room, kitchen & restroom (Phase I) and improved wayfinding, including Dupont Street entrance (proposed for Phase II). These updates help TheDCH better serve the public and organizations that share our mission and values. There are green roofs in Delaware, but rarely are they accessible to the public. The renovated meeting room will open onto a vegetative green roof, providing a wonderful opportunity for people to experience and learn about green infrastructure like intensive and extensive green roofs. . We are concerned about the safety of our constituents when visiting us, so improved way-finding from our parking lot, across Dupont Street to our front gate is a priority. 


Resource center that helps us educate and inspire at risk populations through horticulture. For example, Delaware ranks poorly in re-integrating ex-offenders into the community, and the cost of failure is steep: $32,967 per inmate. Study after study cites lack of a job as a top factor in recidivism, so we are making a difference through the Return to Work program, which trains ex-offenders in horticulture and job readiness skills. With a new resource center, we can more effectively train motivated adults who have had barriers to employment.


Working Classroom (Proposed for Phase II) adjacent to the courtyard for expanded adult and youth educational opportunities. The need is real, especially among our young neighbors. We believe that future leaders rise from at-risk populations when we engage them through innovative outreach programs like the Secret Garden, Shearman Street Intergenerational Garden, Hattie Phelan Garden, and Hedgeville Children’s Garden. Older children and teens interact with the environment through hands-on field trips and summer camps. With a Working Classroom, we can provide hands-on educational programming for at least 400 children per year.


CLICK HERE: to learn how to be a part of the greening and expansion at TheDCH.