case study

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

"RainWise fits perfectly with our mission - to be a good example to our neighbors, housed and unhoused, and to the Earth."
- Britt Olson, Vicar at St. Luke’s Church
Project Facts
Aster Rosa Ecology
6 cisterns, 1 rain garden
Roof Captured
16,650 square feet
Amount Rebated
Project Summary

Located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church’s mission is to love all their neighbors. They provide several community services, such as the Edible Hope meal program, which serves about 2,000 meals per month, and the St. Luke’s Urban Garden (SLUG), a neighborhood P-patch. They also provide shelter for the surrounding homeless population through the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE). St. Luke’s commitment to their community expanded to protect the environment by joining the RainWise Program. Their installation includes six cisterns and a beautiful rain garden, managing rainwater runoff from a total of over 16,600 square feet of roof area. The project

  • keeps nearly 84,000 gallons of stormwater out of the combined sewer system every year,
  • allows the church community to be a part of the solution for stormwater pollution,
  • captures and filters stormwater run-off from the roof, and
  • protects Lake Union and the Ship Canal from combined sewer system overflows.

The project was completed in February 2018, with a total of $64,765 covered by the RainWise rebate program.

Environmental Stewardship

The idea to get RainWise started in St. Luke’s Urban Garden (SLUG). This community garden has plots for neighbors to grow vegetables, a gathering space, a Little Free Library, and a flower-and-herbs cutting garden open to all. Britt Olson, St Luke’s Vicar, found out about cisterns when asking about best practices for summer irrigation. Parishioner Susan Young just installed a RainWise installation at her house from Roseann Barnhill of Aster Rosa Ecology. The three worked together to install six cisterns and one rain garden on St. Luke’s property. The project not only beautifies the landscape, but also helps with storm water management and serves the greater community.

Aster Rosa Ecology partnered with DIRT Corps (Duwamish Infrastructure Restoration Training) to install the large-scale project. DIRT Corps members checked rain garden calculations, shoveled dirt, maneuvered wheelbarrows, conferred in English and Spanish, and planted plants. DIRT Corps grew most of the plants as part of a horticultural training module. They divided sedges, started plants from cuttings, and nurtured bare root plants.

“I chose aspens for a couple reasons: they are tall and narrow, so you can see through them, which keeps the rain garden open and less habitable. Also, they are so community-oriented and resilient, just like St. Luke’s they share a root system, and are connection points in landscapes – an aspen grove is a Northwest oasis.”

– Rosanne Barnhill, Aster Rosa Ecology

The finished rain garden serves as a beautiful focal point for the central courtyard and is visible from the street as well.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church uses their RainWise installation to promote green infrastructure in the local community. They encourage other congregations to learn more about RainWise and to go through the program. Project partners include church leadership, Seattle Public Utility staff, RainWise outreach staff and the creative design talents of the RainWise contractor, Aster Rosa Ecology.