Welcome to the Memphis-Shelby County Low Impact Development page

Click here for a list we are compiling of all known LID sites in the region.   

Click here to learn more about rain gardens. 

Rain Garden Installation for Peggy W. Edmiston Administration Building (2015)

On June 20, 2015, the Shelby County Engineering program in partnership with Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability with support from Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (TNASLA) installed four green infrastructure demonstration rain gardens at the Peggy W. Edmiston Administration Building (one of the largest Shelby County Government offices) and will offer multiple educational sessions to homeowners in the fall.  A TDEC Green Development Grant was received for $20,000 for this project.  See video of the rain garden as it was installed here and press release here.   Article here.  

Rain Garden Installation for Three Shelby County School Buildings (2015)

City of Memphis Engineering program in partnership with Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability installed three green infrastructure demonstration rain gardens, one each, at Belle Forest Community School, Hickory Ridge Middle, and Kirby High.  In addition to these installations done by Michael Hatcher & Associates and True Green, lesson plans developed by Clean Memphis, were designed for these schools to incorporate rain gardens into the curriculum.  TDEC Green Development Grant was received for $25,180 for this project that was completed in June 2015. 


Memphis-Shelby County Low Impact Development Competition (2014)

Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability launched the Low Impact Development Design Competition in April 2014 with completion in September 2014.  This was an opportunity for design firms to showcase their skills with Low Impact Development and the winning teams received $21,000 in awards. 

Low Impact Development (LID) is a way to treat stormwater runoff in a way that mimics the natural hydrology of the site instead of the traditional method of piping the water directly off the site.  The impetus for this competition is the updated regulations that will affect all municipalities as their stormwater permit gets renewed over the next few years. 

A competition is an innovative way to encourage professionals to use Low Impact Development (LID) as a way to treat stormwater on site through natural infiltration.  In 2010, the first LID design competition was launched in Houston, Texas on flat, clay land.  Over the past few years other cities have followed their lead.  Houston’s competition entries showed a 5%-30% reduction in development costs and by 2011 the area saw more than 100 LID-based projects submitted for development up from zero the previous year.  Firms that participated in the competition then became the leaders in the new LID marketplace, changing their previous way of doing business.  Today they continue to foster a long-term collaborative relationship with other team members.  If this same result can be extrapolated to the Memphis-Shelby County area, the movement will also trend toward LID designs.

Background & Funding:

Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability received a $21,900 Green Development Grant from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and their partners Tennessee Stormwater Association (TNSA), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).  With this funding, the office hosted a two-day conference on Low Impact Development (LID), March 6-7, 2014.  Over 100 design professionals in the fields of engineering, landscape architecture, planning, architecture, development, and others attended.  It was a free conference and open to the public.  Presentations from the March 2014 conference can be viewed here:

The Design Challenge:

The 12.5 acre competition project site is located near the intersection of McLean Blvd. and James Road in Frayser.  It is within United Housing Inc.’s Wolf River Bluffs Planned Development, north of the existing single family units.  Design teams consisted of at least one licensed engineer and one licensed landscape architect, with a minimum of one being local.  Other team members could be architects, planners, developers, construction and homebuilding disciplines, and students.  Using LID techniques for stormwater design, teams submited a site layout of the property for senior living townhomes and a small building for community gathering. 

“United Housing is really excited to be a part of the LID Design Competition,” said Tim Bolding, Executive Director of United Housing.  “Green, sustainable development is the goal for Wolf River Bluffs and this project fits in perfectly by creating quality living spaces, managing stormwater in an environmentally sensitive manner, and meeting a real need for older adults in Shelby County.” 

Round 1 & 2 Judging:

Eleven teams representing 28 firms submitted their designs (each is a link below to their round one submitted design).  The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability is grateful to all teams for participating in this competition.  By participating, the teams are all helping to advance the practice of Low Impact Development in the region.  At the bottom are the three documents the teams used for this competition: Registration Form, Rules, and Design Challenge Site (containing links to all site documents).  Participating teams included: 

Round one judging was conducted by expert professionals in Low Impact Development that are members of the Houston Land/Water Sustainability Forum.  The top teams received 80% of their score by these judges moved on to the final round of judging for their remaining 20%.  Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability announced on August 11, 2014 the three teams who moved to the second round of judging. In the final round, a local jury of 17 civic leaders, design professionals, developers, and other decision makers judged the teams on their project and overall presentation during a live event.  Final awards event (round two of judging) took place Sept 4, 2014 at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens to a crowd over over 100.  Introductory presentation by Christine Donhardt can be viewed here.  Presentations of the finalists are below (the second round submission):  

Click here for photos of the final jury and awards ceremony event.

Round Two Celebrity Jury Panel (for 20% of the score):

  • Mark H. Luttrell, Jr., Shelby County Mayor (ceremonial vote)
  • Bob Martineau, TDEC Commissioner
  • Jim Strickland, City Council Chair (ceremonial vote)
  • Mark Billingsley, County Commissioner (ceremonial vote)
  • Don Green, LEED AP, President Elect TNSA & Water Quality Supervisor, City of Chattanooga
  • Tom Needham, PE, Director of Public Works, Shelby County
  • Manny Belen, PE, Deputy Director of City Engineering, City of Memphis
  • Chip Saliba, Land Use Controls Manager, OPD
  • Mike Flowers, PLA, Administrator of Parks, City of Memphis
  • Rick McClanahan, PE, Director of City Engineering, Bartlett
  • Tim Bolding, Executive Director United Housing Inc.
  • Ron Belz, President Belz Enterprises
  • James Rasberry, President Rasberry CRE
  • Gary Thompson, ASLA, Vice President Boyle Investment
  • Steve Hodgkins, Past-Pres Memphis Area Home Builders Assoc.
  • Kim Elorriaga, ASLA, Project Director Shelby Farms Park Conservancy
  • Brian Waldron, PE, Groundwater Institute University of Memphis 


Thank you to generous partners who made this possible:

Memphis-Shelby County Office of SustainabilityUnited Housing Inc., City of Memphis Stormwater ProgramShelby County EngineeringULI MemphisTennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (TNASLA), Tennessee American Planning Association (TAPA), West Tennessee Branch-American Society of Civil Engineers (West TN ASCE), Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Dixon Gallery & Gardens, and Simmons Land Company.  Competition funds are provided by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Stormwater Association (TNSA), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).


Post Competition Press:

LID design contest targets stormwater pollutants - High Ground News

UHI development/LID competition - Fox 13 

Dalhoff Thomas Design team wins local low-impact development design competition - Memphis Business Journal

LID Design Competition Sparks Development Changes in Memphis, Shelby County - United Housing blog

Corradino Group team wins design competition - Louisville Business Journal

Memphis-Shelby County Announce LID Design Competition Winners - WEF: Water Environment Federation

The Family Plot: Gardening in the Mid-South interview - WKNO / PBS

Blurb about the competition - Memphis Daily News

University of Memphis hosted LID winner for Sustainability Lecture Series - DTD Blog

Remarks from a LID winner - Blair Parker Design Blog 

New Stormwater Requirements - TN Public Works Magazine (page 26)