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GZA honored by CT Green Building Council for “living shoreline” project at Hepburn Family Preserve

At a Glance


Left to Right- Kai Starn, CTGBC Chair and Steven Winter Associates; Annie Procaccini, SumCo Eco-Contracting; Robert Gay, Lynde Point Land Trust; Alicia Dolce, CTGBC Executive Director; Katie Lund, CIRCA; Steve Lecco, GZA; Jonathan Gawrys, SumCo Eco-Contracting, Rhea Drozdenko, Connecticut River Conservancy, Wayne Cobleigh, CTGBC Finance Chair and GZA (accepting for Dan Stapleton, GZA)


GZA has been named as part of a multi-organization team as winner of the Connecticut Green Building Council’s 2022 Resilience Award of Honor for the Hepburn Family Preserve Living Shoreline project. GZA designed the project and applied for the award on behalf of the team of clients, funders and the contractor.

Honored along with GZA for the shoreline resiliency project in the Borough of Fenwick were the Lynde Point Land Trust, SumCo Eco-Contracting, LLC, the Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), and the Connecticut River Conservancy.

For decades, the 450-foot-long strip of beach and dune known as the Hepburn Dune next to the family estate of the legendary film actress Katharine Hepburn experienced significant erosion from coastal wave action, with the threat that a breach of the barrier spit could damage both improved property in the estuarine area of the Connecticut River and the recently restored Lynde Point Marsh and Crab Creek located upland of the spit.

Beginning in 2017, GZA GeoEnvironmental worked with the Borough of Fenwick and Lynde Point Land Trust to develop a nature-based living shoreline solution to mitigate erosion that includes a nearshore wetland sill to attenuate prevailing wave heights, new fill and tidal wetlands between the sill and the beach, reshaping of cobble beach, and dune restoration with a quarrystone-reinforced, planted dune above the Coastal Jurisdiction Line. The project also entailed realigning Crab Creek and replacing an aging culvert to promote proper tidal flushing. The project was completed in 2021 during the founding of GZA’s Design with Nature Studio.

“Living shorelines are an innovative solution to restoring damaged coasts and providing a green way to adapt to a changed climate,” said Ron Rhodes, Connecticut River Conservancy’s interim director. “We are incredibly grateful for the generous support and wonderful project partners that helped restore this coastline and protect it into the future.”

CIRCA Director of Engagement Katie Lund said: “Through our Municipal Resilience Grant Program, CIRCA was pleased to support the initial design for the Hepburn Dune living shoreline project. This pilot project demonstrates shoreline stabilization strategies to mitigate shoreline erosion, which has been an on-going and chronic issue at this site for many years.  In addition to creating transferable ideas for project design, our CIRCA grant helped support important partnerships between the Borough of Fenwick, NGOs, and consultants – partnerships that are critical to advancing living shoreline projects in the state.”  
Jonathan Gawrys, SumCo Team Lead – Ecological Restoration, said: “SumCo is excited to have been a part of an award-winning team for the construction of the Hepburn Family Preserve Living Shoreline. A worthy challenge to construct from beginning to end, receiving recognition for having implemented the cutting-edge design of such an important coastal resiliency project is a humbling reward. Hopefully, this project sets the bar for at-risk properties along coastlines in the northeast for years to come.”

GZA President and CEO Patrick Sheehan said: “Developing nature-based solutions to promote more resilient coastline environments is a core strength for the GZA team, and I am pleased and proud to see all the work of our colleagues and their partners to protect this uniquely beautiful spot on the Connecticut shore win such well-deserved recognition from the Connecticut Green Building Council.”

GZA and its partners were formally presented with the award at a ceremony held by the Connecticut Green Building Council earlier this month.