HigH Performance LandscaPe guideLines
Design alone does not make a park sustainable. Parks must be
built in such a way that the sustainable features function prop-
erly. Often long term maintenance problems can be directly
attributed to poor construction practices that damage vegeta-
tion or result in irreversibly compacted soils. Unfortunately, the
effects of this damage may not become visible for a year or two
after a contractor has completed the work.
Improper construction planning, lax oversight, or lack of
expertise among contractors or supervising resident engineers
all contribute to poor long term performance of park facilities.
Inadequate building practices along with improper design
or material selections are symptomatic of a larger problem:
construction thinking — the ways in which we build our parks
and the materials choices we make — is not well integrated in
the design process. Design teams need to think through how a
project is built in order to maximize its long term performance.
Anticipating potential construction problems or site logistics
constraints can result in more sustainable parks.
High performance landscape guidelines seek to make
construction practices more sustainable or “greener.” The
environmental impacts of construction can be greatly improved
by adopting more stringent contractor performance require-
ments. City agencies including LMCC, DOT, and DDC now
mandate these practices and the local construction industry
has adopted them. In the end improving the way we build
parks should improve the performance of park facilities, help
conserve resources, and mitigate unintended environmental
degradation associated with construction.
INTEGRATE CONSTRUCTION THINKING INTO THE DESIGN
PROCESS. Designers should understand how things are con-
structed. Constructability reviews should happen early enough
and often enough in the design process to allow designers and
construction staff to avoid creating problems. Designers should
review new methods or materials with the Speciﬁcations and
Construction Divisions to determine and review past use or
recommendations for application.
DEVELOP CONTRACT DOCUMENTS THAT CAREFULLY
ARTICULATE CONTRACTOR PERFORMANCE REqUIRE-
MENTS. Contract documents that include speciﬁc equipment
and operational criteria, materials requirements, recycling
programs, work limit lines, site protections, and proper sched-
uling and sequencing of work will allow for closer manage-
ment of site construction practices. Clear requirements and
benchmarks for performance will make it easier for Parks to
hold contractors accountable for the quality of their work.
Unless contract documents set the standard for acceptable
practices, it will be virtually impossible to change the method
of construction while the work is in progress.
ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT TRAINING OF CONTRAC-
TORS AND PARKS CONSTRUCTION OVERSIGHT STAFF.
Contractors will tend to favor older, less sustainable construc-
tion methods and materials unless they are trained to build
in more responsible ways. Parks construction professionals
and supervising designers need to be sufﬁciently trained to
oversee sustainable construction techniques and materials
handling. They need to be able to direct contractors who are
not familiar with sustainable practices and to enforce new
contract requirements. By improving overall understanding of
sustainable goals and the critical interrelationships between
soil, vegetation, and water systems all parties will have a
better sense of how to operate sustainably.
CELEBRATE CONSTRUCTION SUCCESSES AND REWARD
INNOVATION. IT IS CRITICAL TO ELEVATE THE IMPOR-
TANCE OF GOOD CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES AND CRITI-
CAL PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS. Too often we only reward
projects that look good immediately upon completion. We
often fail to appreciate less glamorous projects that are
properly built and actually improve economic, environmental
or social metrics within our city. As sustainable requirements
and practices are worked into the Parks design and construc-
tion process, design and construction staff as well as contrac-
tors will develop skills and techniques that will beneﬁt future
projects. It is important to share this wisdom with the capital
design staff on a regular basis, in order to build a culture of
KEEP RECORDS AND MAKE DATA EASILY AVAILABLE.
It is critical for the design staff to understand what works
and what does not during construction, especially as they
begin to try new, more sustainable approaches to design and
materials selection. Keeping track of what works will allow
for the development of better standard drawings, details, and
speciﬁcations. Careful more detailed recording of the costs
associated with new features is also important to allow design
staff to better budget for sustainable construction features.
Documenting costs trends over multiple years will also be
important to see if the local construction industry is able to
improve costs as they become more familiar with sustainable
practices and materials.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CONSTRUCTION’S VISIBILITY TO
EDUCATE THE PUBLIC. Construction in parks presents an
important opportunity to show a public commitment to improv-
ing the quality of life in the city. Let the public know what is
going on and how and why projects will improve environmen-
tal, social and economic performance. Educating the public
about each new park project promotes an understanding of
how parks function within the larger city-wide ecological and
social system. Publicizing the sustainability goals and objec-
tive for new park construction projects is a way to build the
public’s appreciation of the environmental beneﬁts.
Ensure that Parks projects are cost-effective and easily
Informs design decisions with realistic considerations of
building construction methods and logistics
Comprehensively conceived plans have fewer cost and
Facilitates implementation of high performance goals
Construction Managers can help work around constraints.
Uncovers contradictions and ambiguities in construction
J The creation of a constructability review team will be a
burden for existing staff or require new stafﬁng.
J If staff or staff expertise is not available, consultants would
add soft costs to individual projects.
The integration of construction planning into the design phase
can be useful in establishing project goals, budgets, schedules
and cost or time-saving strategies. Discussions can lead to
creative solutions to project challenges.
Constructability reviews insure clarity and coordination of
construction documents and speciﬁcations. These reviews
verify correctness of construction details and material choices.
Constructability reviews assure coordination of drawings
and speciﬁcations among all trades. For complex projects and
especially with projects that include buildings, constructabil-
ity reviews serve to unify all aspects of the project. Cross-
referencing the trades also helps avoid possible conﬂicts and
overlapping jurisdictions among the various trade contracts.
Reviews can be used to identify code compliance issues and
their impact on design details and cost.
Other issues highlighted during the constructability
review process include phasing, coordination with facilities
operations, and the sequencing of construction operations.
Additionally, the review assures compliance with regulatory
criteria, such as proper submission format and procedure,
adherence to Wick’s Law, and Procurement Policy Board
issues. Common inconsistencies recognized by the review
team include missing or incomplete building code analysis and
improper use of standardized drawings and speciﬁcations.
Planning & Design
esTablisH consTrucTabiliTY reView Teams
constructability reviews require skilled and experienced people who
understand how contractors work and how drawings and speciﬁca-
tions might be interpreted by the contractor.
J Ideally, constructability review teams would come from
in-house staff that are familiar with Parks standards as well
as common goals and concerns.
J If in-house staff are not available, consider hiring both
design and construction management consultants to assist
j Consultant reviewers should have specialized skills in
contracting, park building, construction of sustainable
landscapes, and the necessary subspecialty skills needed
for speciﬁc projects including architects, engineers,
ecologists, landscape architects, stormwater specialists,
soil scientists, and so on.
engage consTrucTabiliTY reViewers earlY in THe
ideally constructability review should begin as early in the process
as possible, but no later than the traditional design development
phase (approximately 65-70% project completion) phase.
J Often constructability reviews are useful at a concept
development or master planning stage to identify basic
issues of access, budgetary contingencies for anticipated
complications, schedules or other unusual concerns that
may be speciﬁc to the proposed project program or site.
j Constructability review teams can be useful in setting
place-holder allowances early in the planning process
before design decisions are fully worked out.
J Obtain assistance from construction managers to identify
key logistical, scheduling, budgeting and bidding issues.
J Determine whether internal construction staff could pro-
vide necessary expertise or whether it would be preferable to
hire construction managers.
use consTrucTabiliTY reView Teams To assisT wiTH
DeVeloPing anD reViewing cosT esTimaTes, scHeDules anD
final biD DocumenTs
Design projects need to be considered in context of how and when
they will be constructed. often the skills needed to plan a project
from start to completion lay outside of the design staff assigned to
the project. constructability review teams can assist design staff in:
J Minimize situations that could lead to contractor disputes,
cost over-runs, change orders and unexpected bid prices
J Developing detailed project schedules
j Advertizing of bids
j Realistic duration of bids
reviews into tHe
HigH Performance LandscaPe guideLines
Part iii: Best Practices in site Process
j Length of time required for the procurement of goods,
preparation of shop drawings, completion of material
deliveries and site mobilization
j Duration of various construction phases, including site
preparation, utility installation, rough grading, building
construction, interface with public utilities, and ﬁnal
for larger or comPlex ProjecTs consiDer using a
consTrucTion manager in lieu of in-House Design sTaff
Determine whether internal construction staff can provide the
necessary expertise (and time commitment) or whether it would be
preferable to hire a construction manager (cm) to act as an owner’s
representative for Parks to coordinate the project from the design
development phase through end of construction.
cms can be used to assist with:
J The “front-end” documents including administrative,
speciﬁcations and bidding documents
J Development and coordination of multiple contractor
bid packages if necessary, especially if the project triggers
Wicks Law compliance.
J Considering the viability of issuing accelerated or “early
start” bid packages that can be used to shorten the duration
of construction work.
J Overseeing other bid related logistics including:
j Requirements for bonds and insurance
j Prevailing wage requirements
j Mobilization requirements
J Assisting with the bid phase work including:
j Identiﬁcation of well-suited contractors
j Conducting pre-bid meetings and site visits
j Evaluation of contractor bids and post-bid interviews
consiDer THe use of a cm as a general conTracTor as
well as a consTrucTion manager
J Consider whether this arrangement would be advantageous
by allowing greater ﬂexibility in the procurement of work
among a variety of specialty subcontractors.
J Learn from the construction process.
J Designers should observe the construction of critical or
novel construction operations to obtain ﬁrst-hand knowledge
of construction operations. This knowledge can then inform
future designs, cost estimates and speciﬁcations.
DeVeloP feeDback forms To inform Design sTaff abouT
misTakes anD inefficiencies THaT can be correcTeD on
Drawings anD sPecificaTions on subsequenT ProjecTs
The development of high performance guidelines should not be
static. agency staff should continue to strive for improved ways to
design and deliver projects.
J Consider implementing a formal project “lessons learned”
meeting for each project as it is being closed out with the
j Include designers, managers, construction, mainte-
nance and operations staff and even the contractor in the
meeting to encourage open dialog about the ways things
might be done better the next time.
j Identify possible contractor innovations that may result
in improvements to standard speciﬁcations and drawings.
j Identify possible products or suppliers who may be
good resources for future projects.
j Require Parks designer, construction staff and the
contractor to complete a questionnaire after each project,
to include: questions about the capital process in general
and customized questions about the project speciﬁcally
and any piloted or otherwise novel features.
Battery Park City, Hudson River Park, the Highline, the United
Nations and other projects within New York have engaged both
design and construction management ﬁrms during the design
and construction process to assist project design teams and
owner-agency with the development of construction schedules,
phasing and logistics plans, bid packages, and cost estimates.
Improve procurement of sustainable materials and specialized
J Potentially broadens the pool of contracting companies
J Potentially eliminates general contractor mark-ups on
specialty contractor work such as soil remediation, invasive
species removal, and green roof construction
J Allows for a direct contractual relationship with
J Potentially increases control over selection of quality con-
tractors and the scheduling and administration of their work
J Some of the recommendations contained in this section
go beyond the power and authority of the Parks Department.
The suggestions are included to create an awareness of what
might be possible.
J State and City-wide Law prescribe how projects have
to be bid.
J Changes in procurement strategies would require City
and possibly state approvals.
J Pre-purchasing for multiple projects requires increased
planning and coordination of capital project schedules.
J Use of multiple contracts requires increased
J May increase resident engineer or construction
J Policy changes may be needed to change the
High performance landscapes are dependent on skilled
contractors who can operate without damaging existing soils,
vegetation, and waterbodies. Contractors need to be experi-
enced in the performance of specialized tasks such as invasive
species control, natural area restoration, and green roof con-
struction. Use of sustainable products such as porous concrete
and low temperature asphalt require a willing contractor who is
familiar with the product. Prior to awarding them contracts for
work, contractors should be required to demonstrate experi-
ence in these areas to ensure that they will be able to follow
speciﬁcations and bid the job competently and competitively.
This requires some manner of qualifying the contractors, either
before bidding or before award.
Some materials (such as trees of a particular species) need
to be ordered well in advance because they need to be propa-
gated. Other materials such as soil need to be sourced ahead
of time because they need to meet a detailed speciﬁcation. In
both instances it would be desirable for Parks to have suppli-
ers who have agreed to provide these materials at a ﬁxed price
for periods of time, so that any contractor working on a Parks
project would be able to incorporate those materials into their
job without being encumbered by lengthy procurements. This
would potentially yield signiﬁcant project savings.
DeVeloP a Pre-PurcHasing Program or suPPlY-onlY
conTracTs for maTerials
often, projects will require speciﬁc materials in order to meet their
sustainability goals. for example, for the PlaNYC reforestation
initiative undertaken by Parks, a procurement contract was created
for multiple nurseries to produce 8,000 trees annually of speciﬁc
species and genotype over an 8 year period. The nurseries produced
the plant material and were required to deliver minimum numbers
of truckloads within city limits. similar approaches could be used
for soil materials, compost, mulch, native plants, and materials that
require high levels of quality control.
J Pre-plan and combine common material needs across
j Seek to leverage competitive prices for materials that
might be too costly to order on a per-project basis.
j Seek to reduce manufacturing and supply lead times,
improve shipping efﬁciencies and streamline contractor
j Use large scale pre-purchasing for multiple projects
annually to entice suppliers to provide more sustainable
products that would otherwise be considered “custom.”
j Pre-purchasing from a range of suppliers may also
provide Parks with a greater ability to provide quality
control since Parks inspectors would only need to visit
and test a limited number of suppliers. Contractors would
then be able to purchase materials that have effectively
completed the Quality Assurance process typically accom-
modated by contractor submittals.
encourage or require PurcHase of locallY aVailable
anD / or susTainable maTerials or serVices To THe exTenT
legallY anD logisTicallY Possible
The purchase of locally produced goods serves important sustain-
ability goals of minimizing excessive transportation costs and associ-
ated pollution and gasoline consumption. The use of local companies
to manufacture goods and provide services helps develop local green
jobs. Purchasing goals would be incentives to the development of
local nurseries, recycling facilities, site furnishing manufacturers
and a variety of specialty contracting companies.
J Investigate existing or proposed tax incentives, public
ﬁnancing and other means of encouraging local green jobs.
J Consider providing speciﬁc contract target goals for
HigH Performance LandscaPe guideLines
Part iii: Best Practices in site Process
percentages of materials or services purchased from
manufactures or suppliers within New York City or
j Follow a similar approach used by City and State
agencies for meeting WBE/MBE goals.
J Reference NYC’s Environmentally Preferred Purchasing
J Promote awareness within the Department and the local
contracting community of sources of locally available and
sustainably produced materials, products and services
through newsletters, pre-bid meetings and comprehensive
listing of sustainable suppliers and specialty contractors.
J Use combined agency purchasing power to increase
demand for locally produced materials and supplies.
imProVe THe qualiTY of conTracTors Performing
Hiring experienced and high quality contractors who are capable
of constructing high performance landscapes can be challeng-
ing within the standard new York city bidding practices. Typically
competitive bidding in new York city results in the selection of
contractors based on the lowest price bid with limited assurance of
actual ability of the contractor to perform the work in a way that it is
speciﬁed. requirements contracts and pre-qualiﬁed contractors are
two strategies that could be explored to allow Parks to improve the
quality of contractors.
in requirements contract projects, bidders provide unit prices based
on standard speciﬁcations and drawings with minimal site or project-
speciﬁc information. These contracts are used primarily to advance
contractor bidding while projects are still in design, shortening the
time from conception to construction. Typically successful require-
ments contractors then build park projects and Parks pays the
contractor based on the unit prices in his bid for a range of expected
construction items. requirements contracts have historically been
awarded to general contractors who use either in-house staff or
specialty subcontractor to perform work. The disadvantage is that
projects requiring more specialized work will end up paying more
for the work since it will be run through a general contractor who is
entitled to mark up the price of their work.
This requirements contract system, which is very successful for
Parks, could be further reﬁned to develop requirements contracts
for specialty work, thereby encouraging specialty contractors to
bid on work they are both qualiﬁed to do and interested in, giving
Parks greater ﬂexibility to award critical, high performance work, or
ecologically sensitive items to more qualiﬁed contractors.
Parks could consider a formal specialty contractor pre-qualifying
program. The nYc Department of Design and construction has suc-
cessfully used a contractor pre-qualiﬁcation process to select con-
tractors for highly specialized construction work where it is essential
that only competent and experienced vendors be invited to bid.
The pre-qualiﬁcation process, which has been vetted by the
Procurement Policy board, offers a new approach to contracting that
may offer improved results over the traditional Parks approach of
selecting contractors based on the lowest responsible bid. Typically
specialty contractors have a hard time competing with larger general
contractors. specialty contractors also are often not interested in
bidding on large projects that only include a small portion of work
that they focus on.
interested ﬁrms can respond to advertisements for pre-qualiﬁed
bidders by requesting the pre-qualiﬁcation requirements package
which details the qualiﬁcation and experience needed to undertake
the work of speciﬁc contract types. The response is evaluated;
ﬁrms that have met the criteria for pre-qualiﬁcation are selected.
once ﬁnal bid documents are available for bid, only those ﬁrms who
have been pre-qualiﬁed will be invited to submit competitive bids.
after a bid opening, which all pre-qualiﬁed ﬁrms can attend, the
ﬁrm with the lowest responsible bid will be awarded the contract.
Pre-qualiﬁcation would be especially useful for projects involving
specialized skills including:
J Invasive plant management
J Stormwater management systems including constructed
wetlands, inﬁltration basins and other devices
J Green roof construction
J Porous pavement installation
J Ecological plantings
J Brownﬁeld restoration
J Abatement of hazardous materials
To encourage more biDDers To PrePare beTTer biDs,
Plan THe biD sequence To coinciDe wiTH conTracTor
J Whenever possible, avoid site contractors’ busy periods
during the early spring or late fall seasons since contractors
are often too preoccupied to spend the time required to
carefully plan their bid responses.
j Site work bids are generally best when due in January and
February, when contactors are looking to secure work for the
j Bidding during the mid summer is an alternative since
work is already in place and contactors are looking for work
for the mid to late fall seasons.
realisTicallY Plan THe Timing of conTracTor biDs anD
awarDs on comPlex ProjecTs
J For projects requiring extensive planning, soil work, plant
material purchasing or other specialized construction, consider
bidding and awarding the projects a full season ahead of the
actual start of construction.
J Allow contractors sufﬁcient time to source materials and
obtain submittal approvals required for construction.
J Stipulate milestones for completion of early lead items in
the bid documents and project schedules to coincide with
anticipated construction start and end dates.
Hudson River Park Trust uses multiple contracts to optimize
the purchasing of construction services. Park construction
has been parceled into a number of construction contracts
including general site work, marine construction, stone
masonry, paving, irrigation, landscaping. It is common practice
for building contracts to separate furniture and equipment
purchases from the actual building contracts.
for furTHer informaTion
f New York City of Design and Construction, “Design + Construction
Excellence: July 2007 Progress Report .” July 2007.
29 New York City of Design and Construction, “Design + Construction Excellence: July 2007
Progress Report.” July 2007, p. 13.
Create detailed construction staging and sequencing
plans to understand and control how contractors will perform
their work on the site with the speciﬁc goals of protecting
soil, vegetation, and water resources throughout the duration
J Improves the design team’s understanding of the scope of
work, results in clearer construction documentation and more
accurate bidding and scheduling
J Elevates the importance of best management practices
and their required use to the construction managers, resident
engineers, and contractors during construction
J Clearly identiﬁes and protects zones of existing stormwater
management, vegetation, soil or water resources
J The preparation of additional plans and speciﬁcations can
sometimes increase project design costs.
J If staging and sequencing plans are too rigid they will not
allow for a contractor to propose more innovative or efﬁcient
J Requirements to protect site features, to sequence construc-
tion in particular ways or to increase documentation require-
ments can increase construction costs.
High performance construction requires careful preconstruc-
tion planning to achieve environmental, economic, and main-
tenance / operations goals. The development of sequencing
and staging plans serves several purposes.
J As design documents, they inform the design team
about the full extent of construction impacts on the
site, including space planning requirements and post
construction restoration needs.
J As bid documents, they inform the contractor of the basic
operational requirements and coordination necessary to
complete the work properly.
J As submittal documents, they conﬁrm the contrac-
tor’s commitment and understanding of high performance
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested