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Global Architecture Firm, HDR, Awards Sustainable Princeton Grant to Build Downspout Planters in Neighborhoods Across Princeton


Elana Berk
Communications & Outreach Manager
Sustainable Princeton
(609) 454-4757

James Burton
Design Principal/Project Sponsor

Global Architecture Firm, HDR, Awards Sustainable Princeton Grant to Build Downspout Planters in Neighborhoods Across Princeton

Downspout planters reduce flooding from stormwater runoff and introduce native plants to overburdened neighborhoods

[Princeton, New Jersey] – Sustainable Princeton was awarded $12,741 by the HDR Foundation to support the construction and installation of galvanized steel downspout planters filled with native plants in neighborhoods across Princeton. The grant helps Sustainable Princeton fulfill two of its strategic focus areas – increasing community resilience to climate change and protecting the local ecosystem. As climate change brings more extreme flooding events, the downspout planters, filled with native, pollinator-friendly plants, will help collect stormwater runoff and help reduce flooding in vulnerable neighborhoods. The downspout planters will be installed at properties located within the Witherspoon Jackson Neighborhood, at properties owned and managed by Princeton Community Housing (PCH), and at a property managed by Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP).

“Every time we experience an extreme weather event, like a storm or a flash flood, we see firsthand how vulnerable our community is to flooding and it’s essential to support our neighbors that are the most impacted,” said Christine Symington, Executive Director of Sustainable Princeton. “We are grateful to our neighbors in the Witherspoon Jackson Neighborhood, PCH, and HIP for working with our team on this project and also to HDR for providing the funding and expertise in the construction and design of the planters to make this project a reality.”

This project plans to install at least 20 downspout planters – a type of green infrastructure – that can retain roughly 100 gallons of stormwater each. The native plant species selected do well in planters, so the property owners won’t have to do much to maintain them once they are established.

“For many years, it has been my desire to find an appropriate project for HDR and Sustainable Princeton to pool our resources, and this small grant and the volunteer effort that will accompany it seems the perfect opportunity,” said Jim Burton, Design Principal and employee sponsor. “Clearly, HDR’s stated objectives based on the Three Design Pillars align very closely with Sustainable Princeton’s mission. Sustainable Princeton is a well-known and important organization in the Princeton area; for HDR to partner with them is the most natural proposition and will be to the very clear benefit of both groups.”

Project Planning is underway and construction is projected to begin this June and finish by the fall.

About Sustainable Princeton

Founded in 2012, Sustainable Princeton is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire the community to develop and implement solutions that positively impact the environment. We envision Princeton as a model town that examines every action through the lens of sustainability, ensuring a healthy environment, a strong economy, and the well-being of all community members now and in the future. Our office is located at 1 Monument Drive, Princeton, New Jersey. For more information, visit

About HDR
HDR is a 100% employee-owned professional services firm. Founded over a century ago to bring electricity to a changing world, we are now a global company specializing in architecture, engineering, environmental and construction services. Our success in built and natural environments continues as we collaborate to solve our clients’ and communities’ most complex challenges. 

About the HDR Foundation
The HDR Foundation provides grants to qualified organizations that align with HDR’s areas of expertise: education, healthy communities and environmental stewardship. As an employee-funded and employee-driven foundation, preference is given to organizations located in communities in which HDR employees live and work, and those with strong employee involvement. Since its inception, the HDR Foundation has provided more than $9 million in grants to over 350 organizations. 

Featured in photograph:

From left to right, Elana Berk (Communications & Outreach Manager, Sustainable Princeton), Christine Symington (Executive Director, Sustainable Princeton), James Wisniewski, (Managing Principal, HDR) and Jim Burton (Design principal and project Sponsor, HDR)

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