VICENZA, Italy- As Del Din prepares to open in the second half of this year, outfitting of the facilities is in full swing and goes well beyond the singular structures. Providing Soldiers an attractive, well-organized landscape design plays an important role in the sustainability strategies of an installation that aims at being a model for the stewardship of natural resources.

Caserma Del Din will in fact be the first of its kind to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating for a campus-wide project.

"We are serious about protecting and improving the environment and have spared nothing to ensure that Del Din, a project authorized by the Italian government, is seriously green," said Col. David Buckingham, U.S Army Vicenza garrison commander during a treeplanting event at Del Din Feb. 5.

The entire installation covers an area of 145 acres, of which nearly one-third is open green space. The open space contributes to the LEED Gold rating by implementing water efficient landscaping and use of indigenous plants that thrive on site with minimal care and reduced maintenance costs.

"The Del Din landscaping plan is designed to enhance the visual character and the environmental quality of the installation," said Buckingham. He explained that the variety of flora, carefully selected by landscape experts, maximizes use of native plants to guarantee the conditions for plant growth and success. Most importantly, he said, the overall green concept was to ensure that Del Din fits pleasantly into the beautiful Vicenza area.

"We have already planted over 600 of the 1,100 large trees we have on hand and are planting as part of the Del Din landscape," Buckingham said. "In addition to the trees, we are planting 5,000 shrubs and over 82,000 ground cover plants and grasses that grow naturally in Northern Italy, and that we purchased from local nurseries."

He said this is just part of "our commitment to make the new base one of the greenest installations in the Army, and offer our Soldiers a healthier, cleaner and more enjoyable place to live and work."

The principles of landscape development adopted for Del Din aim at creating an impression of unity, balance and rhythm in order to frame and enhance the visual impact of the different types of buildings, said Bruno Manea, engineer technician in charge of landscaping and urbanization for the Navy resident officer in charge of construction.

As a tangible example of the comprehensive planning, a variety of large ash trees is already on site and will become the backbone of the green north-south axis of the base. An endless row of thriving ashes will provide shade to the lawns of the company operation commands while groupings of maples, holly oaks, oaks, common alders and hornbeams are being beautifully scattered around the buildings as well as dozens of other medium trees, including yews, cypresses, magnolias, pines and Judas trees.

To understand the magnitude of the ongoing green landscaping endeavor, Manea said that over 20,000 durable creeping perennials are being planted that will border the sidewalks of the two barracks courtyards alone.

With spring just around the corner, thousands of bushes of creeping junipers, spurges, periwinkles and roses will soon brighten the pathways of an installation that is mostly pedestrian and in which traffic access will be limited to emergency and service vehicles. Of the $307 million of the MILCON project, $1.6 million was devoted to the Del Din landscaping.