Advice: Achieving Landscape Architecture Objectives

By Steve Gregory, PLA, ASLA

Steven Gregory Eriksson Engineering.

Nowhere else is it more important to set expectations with your client than on the landscape architecture component of a project. In my nearly three decades as a Professional Landscape Architect, I’ve been consistently asked to help my clients find what I abbreviate as, “ELM”; environmentally friendly, low-cost, and maintenance free solutions.  Although this acronym is short, solving these project objectives is often not as straightforward. To help your client get as close as possible to meeting these goals, I offer the following suggestions:

Environmentally Friendly: All that is green is not always green. Going green does not mean installing turf grass lawn and letting it fend for itself. Closely examining the long-term care and watering requirements should be central to the design of any landscape. Where turf grass is desired, look for varieties that require less water and maintenance than traditional lawns.

Another way to make the landscape more environmentally responsible is to use as many native plant species as possible. Native plants do require more patience than traditional plantings. Since it takes a few seasons until they peak and look their best, it is important to communicate this timeframe to your client from the beginning.

Low Cost: This is probably the easiest goal to address with most clients since they already have an understanding of costs. Once the project meets the municipal requirements and the client’s direction, then try matching locally sourced plants to the site’s microclimate. This alone will greatly decrease project costs. The key is to include large plants from a quality nursery so that the landscape has a visual impact and can be intuitively understood by the users from first glance.

Maintenance Free: This is where you have to deliver some bad news to the client. There is no such thing as a maintenance-free landscape; however you can offer lower maintenance plants such as native perennials in lieu of decorative annuals. The trick is balancing the lower maintenance and watering requirements of the perennials with the showy exotic plants of more traditional landscapes. Establish with your client the look they are trying to achieve and manage the expectations of decision makers and maintenance staff when incorporating lower maintenance native plants.

EEA incorporates these principles into our designs whenever possible. We simply call it smart design – a holistic approach to site planning and design. Our in-house site consulting services allow us to fully-examine a project site through our team of civil engineering, traffic and parking, and landscape architecture experts.

View our Landscape Architecture Brochure

Steve Gregory, PLA, ASLA is EEA’s Director of Landscape Architecture and Planning.

Ben Ahring Joins EEA as Senior Project Manager

Ben Ahring, P.E.

Ben Ahring, P.E.

EEA is pleased to announce Benjamin Ahring, P.E. has joined the firm as Senior Project Manager.

Ben brings 16 years of civil engineering project management experience and will be based in EEA’s Chicago office. He has led the design of urban redevelopment and public sector projects, including park facilities, schools, police stations, and municipal buildings.

 “Ben’s diverse project portfolio and wealth of expertise make him a valuable addition to our team,” said Mike Renner, Vice President of EEA and leader of the firm’s urban redevelopment and recreation markets. “He takes site design one step further by considering the aesthetic value and the pedestrian experience; addressing the project needs of clients and owners.”

 In his new role, Ben will provide civil engineering project management and site design services to the firm’s clients across several market areas.

Ben graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Ben serves on the Advisory Committee for the Metropolitan Watershed Management (MWRD) Ordinance. He is a licensed professional engineer in Illinois.

EEA Receives Canstruction Chicago Award for Second Year in a Row

Canstruction website collage final

EEA and team partners, ECS Midwest, Power Construction & Fitzgerald Associates Architects received the 2016 Structural Ingenuity Award at the ChicagoCAN Canstruction Awards Reception on Aug. 30 for the team’s “Eroding Hunger” canstructure.

Canstruction Chicago judges were asked to make the selection based on the sculpture that, “Pushes the limits of gravity and physics to turn a basic can of food into a structure that makes you say, “Wow, how did they do that?”
This is the second consecutive Structural Ingenuity award the team has received.

Eroding Hunger, “Is designed as three eroding pillars. Designed with daring structural appearance in mind, we hoped to evoke the precarious situation of hungry citizens in our community. Throughout the design process we studied volumes that would not stand in isolation. Yet, when supported by others, the group stands together. The shape opens toward the audience, exposing the sculpture’s interconnected structure as a nod to how we must support each other’s efforts to erode and eradicate hunger in our community.”

Through careful planning, team work and your support we were able to donate 5,350 cans to the Greater Chicago Food Depository!

On behalf of EEA, we would like to thank our supporters and team sponsors for their generosity.

Watch our team’s build night video!

Also see our team featured in Builtworld’s“AEC Rallies to Feed the Hungry” 

Tom Petermann Appointed President of SMPS Chicago

Tom Petermann, P.E.

Tom Petermann, P.E.

EEA Principal and Director of Client Relations, Tom Petermann, P.E., was recently named President of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Chicago Chapter.

Tom kicked-off his one-year term at the SMPS Chicago Annual meeting held on Aug. 25 by delivering a presentation introducing the new Board of Directors and his goals for the 2016-2017 Chapter year.

To learn more about the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Chicago, please visit

Chris Keppner and Tom Petermann Promoted to Principals of EEA

Chis Keppner, P.E.

Chis Keppner, P.E.

EEA is pleased to announce Chris Keppner, P.E. and Tom Petermann, P.E. have been promoted to Principals of the firm.

“Expanding EEA’s leadership team reflects our continued focus on client service and future growth into additional markets and service lines to best serve our client’s needs,” shared Glen Eriksson, President of EEA. “We look forward to the significant contributions Tom and Chris will make for many years to come.”

Chris Keppner joined EEA in 2013 as the Chicago Operations Manager. Chris has been responsible for growing EEA’s Chicago office and expanding the firm’s market areas. Under his leadership, the firm’s Chicago office has transformed into a collaborative space supporting nine full-time associates.  As the Operations Manager, Chris has mentored staff and managed projects focusing on urban redevelopment. Chris has also grown EEA’s industrial portfolio, a market he worked in for 15 years prior to joining the firm.

Upon promotion to Principal, his goals include positioning EEA’s Chicago office for future growth and continuing to expand EEA’s industrial and urban redevelopment market presence.

Tom Petermann joined EEA in 2013 as a Senior Project Manager and became the Director of Client Relations shortly thereafter in 2014.  Tom has been tasked with growing EEA’s portfolio with a special focus on higher education.

Tom Petermann, P.E.

Tom Petermann, P.E.

In his dual-role, Tom has skillfully provided design leadership on projects while simultaneously managing, developing, and enhancing client service.  During his three years at EEA, he has quadrupled the firm’s higher education project work, launched multiple business development initiatives.

As he steps into the Principal role, Tom will utilize his 18 years of experience to lead EEA’s focus on client service, while maximizing growth of institutional projects and markets beyond the Chicagoland area.

EEA Provides Services for 271,200-square-foot Industrial Development in Barlett, IL

EEA consultants completed design and permitting for a new warehouse building project in the Brewster Creek Business Park, located in Bartlett, IL. Learn more about the project from last month’s article in REBusiness Online.  

Ridge Development

EEA Technical Director Presents at Illinois ASBO Conference

EEA Technical Director, Thomas Hill Jr. EEA’s Technical Director, Thomas Hill, Jr., P.E., presented at this month’s Illinois Association of School Business Officials’ (ASBO) Facilities Professionals Conference. Hill’s presentation, “Synergies Between Stormwater Management Requirements and Sustainability”, discussed how facility managers can get involved in the design process and successfully collaborate with owners, operators, designers, permitting agencies and other shareholders.

Mike Renner Joins IAPD/IPRA Distinguished Accreditation Committee

Vice President of EEA, Mike Renner.Vice President of EEA and Cary Park District Commissioner, Mike Renner, was recently invited to join the Illinois Association of Parks Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park & Recreation Association’s (IPRA) Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Program Committee.

Renner became Commissioner of Cary Park District in 1995, and has helped the district facilitate the design/construction of sites including athletic facilities, neighborhood parks, pedestrian/bike trails, dog parks, skate Parks, community center expansion, maintenance facility renovation, golf course and golf course club house.  Collectively the park district is now comprised of 46 park sites over 862 acres.


Other accomplishments:

  • 2013 IAPD Mike Cassidy Commissioner Community Service Award recipient (
  • Directed Cary Comprehensive Master Plan Update
  • Secured $1 million in grant funding

IAPD is a not-for-profit organization serving park districts, municipal park and recreation, forest preserves and special recreation agencies. Members of the Distinguished Accreditation Program Committee strive to improve the lives of the people of Illinois by recognizing agencies that are dedicated to serving their residents with quality park and recreation services through a formal accreditation process.

“I am excited for the opportunity to meet and network with other board members and district staff from across the State of Illinois.  I am hopeful that during the process of reviewing other agencies’ facilities, programs, and administration, it will reinforce the policies and procedures that our board has established in my home district in Cary.”

Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA) provides civil engineering, traffic & parking, and landscape architecture services for architects, owners and developers throughout the Midwest. EEA consultants focus on the overall project goals and advocate on behalf of clients through the municipal and public review process. To learn more about EEA, visit

Adopting the MWRDGC Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO)

Back in 2013, EEA shared some changes to the WMO effective October 4, 2014 and possible project implications. As we mentioned, although this ordinance has the potential to improve regional flooding and reduce water pollution, it could also result in increased project costs. Before May 1, 2015 there was still an opportunity to permit projects under the old ordinance to avoid increasing project costs, pending municipal acceptance. Since that window closed, now all projects falling within the MWRD jurisdiction are required to adhere to the WMO.

The Criteria: Who is impacted and how does your project stack up?

The MWRD is a government agency that oversees the treatment of wastewater and stormwater management in Cook County. The WMO provides requirements and regulations for stormwater management.

Detention considerations:

  • Projects located in suburban Cook County (including combined sewer areas)
  • Multi-family or non-residential projects—Property size exceeding three acres
  • Single-family residential project—Property size exceeding five acres
  • Proposed improvements disturb (consume) more than 0.5 acres

Volume Control (Best Management Practices) Considerations:

  • Projects located in suburban Cook County (including combined sewer areas)
  • Multi-family or non-residential projects— Property developments larger than 0.5 acres except those that contain an area where there are improvements are less than 0.1 acres in size
  • Single-family project – Property size exceeding one acre

We have to do that? We never did before”

So what revisions did we find most surprising? Generally, changes involving volume control, detention and wetland delineations near developments. Below are the ten most impactful changes you should be aware of:

  • An MWRD permit is required prior to any mass grading or foundation installation
  • Disturbance area is a criterion  for MWRD permitting. The permit is no longer dependent upon sanitary sewers or prior permits
  • Stormwater detention is required in combined sewer areas
  • Volume control (infiltration) is required on developed or redeveloped properties more than 0.5 acres
  • Volume control is required in both separate and combined sewer areas
  • Volume control is required for all new pavement/building areas, regardless if it is replacing an existing hard surface area
  • There must be elevation separation between groundwater elevation and the bottom of the volume control system in combined and separate sewer areas
  • Infiltration is required regardless of soil types- clay soil is not an exception
  • Soil testing may be required to determine the permeability of the soils
  • The MWRD now has jurisdiction over erosion and sediment control measures
  • The detention requirement will automatically become even more restrictive in approximately three years

How we can help navigate these changes

EEA has permitted dozens of projects under the WMO. Our team has helped clients use the nuances of the ordinance to make key design decisions that meet the requirements in cost-effective and innovative ways, while incorporating green infrastructure. The following is a sampling of recommendations on how to best utilize the ordinance:

  • 25% reduction in volume control with every 5% reduction in imperviousness
  • Synthetic turf athletic fields are not considered impervious
  • Reduce or eliminate additional detention where minimal changes affect an existing basin
  • Eliminate the need for conveyance of off-site flow by incorporating it into site stormwater facilities at a net reduction in cost
  • Eliminate an increase in detention for on-site flow that cannot be captured by offsetting it with equivalent upstream areas

EEA is a resource in guiding consultants and owners through the intricacies of the WMO. For more information, please contact us at or at (847) 223-4804.

EEA Featured in Building Design and Construction Magazine

EEA was recently mentioned in “8 Trends Sparking the Hospitality Sector” in the December issue of Building Design and Construction Magazine. EEA was part of the design team for the Hampton Inn Hotel located near Loyola University in Chicago.

8 Trends Sparking the Hospitality Sector

Eriksson Engineering Associates and Team Partners Receive “Structural Ingenuity” Award at Canstruction Chicago 2015

EEA Chicago Canstruction 2015

Teammates from Eriksson Engineering Associates, Fitzgerald Associates Architects, ECS Midwest and Power Construction participated in the Canstruction Chicago 2015 can building competition benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository and received the “Structural Ingenuity Award” for the team’s sculpture “__ in 6.”

Judges were asked to make the selection based on the sculpture that, “Pushes the limits of gravity and physics to turn a basic can of food into a structure that makes you say, “Wow, how did they do that?”.

“_ in 6” attempts to reach to the bounds, but leaves space between food deserts, perhaps, or underfunding. The void in “_ in 6’s” center— 5’-0” in diameter, here— represents 1/6th of our build-able area and, more importantly, the 1 in 6 people who are hungry in and around Chicago. We hope that with attention and ever-increasing efforts, the gaps will be closed, the voids will be filled, and the hungry will be fed.

The team’s structure was built with 8,000 cans that were donated directly to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

On behalf of EEEA, we would like to thank our supporters and team sponsors for their generosity.

EEA Welcomes Design Engineer

AaronBruder38Eriksson Engineering Associates is also pleased to announce the addition of Aaron Bruder. Aaron previously interned with EEA’s design team and was recently brought on as a full-time Design Engineer.

Prior to completing his degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois, Aaron attended the prestigious Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy where he graduated with his high school diploma at the age of 16.

Aaron is based in EEA’s Grayslake office and will support the design team with engineering design and construction monitoring.

Although Aaron has strong engineering and technical skills, he also has a background in marketing. While at the University of Illinois, he worked as a marketing intern and assisted with the development and administration of several online marketing campaigns.

As a Grayslake native, Aaron is very excited to kick off his engineering career back in his home town. Outside EEA, he continues to volunteer for his Fraternity of Alpha Kappa Lambda on both a local and national level.