[Posted on August 26th, 2015 by: Barry Stiles]
Up to the present time, roadways and parking lots have largely been developed with asphalt and concrete, using methods that are relatively harmful to the environment and ignore the principles of water conservation. In addition, the surfaces of these roadways and parking lots get baked by warm weather sunshine, and add to the general overheating of cities and towns.
While these commercial paving methods were accepted in the past as the best available construction practices, commercial paving now and in the future must take a more responsible approach to satisfying the requirements of commercial paving while also safeguarding our planet.
Here are 10 reasons why commercial paving methods now and in the future should have at their foundation green strategies which are mindful of long-term environmental impact.
#1 Low Impact Development (LID)
Low-impact development is a planning and engineering design approach whose chief aim is to accomplish a construction project with a view toward maintaining the environment to the greatest extent possible in its pre-construction state. Methods used will be those causing minimal impact to the environment, with the least disruption to both the local environment and local citizenry. In addition, strategies include those which prevent pollution from water runoff on paving surfaces, and instead allow for conservation of freshwater. Low impact development is the best approach to provide for enhanced natural resource protection.
#2 Cost effectiveness
Because permeable paving materials make use of recycled plastic, the cost of materials used is typically lower than other, traditional paving materials. Installation methods are also less costly because they don’t involve the use of as much heavy equipment or the large crews that are typically necessary for paving with asphalt or concrete. Using the green permeable paver approach, the total cost of a paving project can be as much as 50% less than the cost of comparable asphalt or concrete paving project. Even better, the end result is far friendlier to the environment.
The plastics used in permeable pavers are derived from recycled materials that would otherwise have taken up space in local landfills, and would eventually become an eyesore rather than a useful part of the local infrastructure. After recycling, these reclaimed plastics can support an incredible amount of weight, especially when configured as a grid.
#4 Pollution avoidance
When storms rain down on traditional paved roads and parking lots, the water runoff can easily become polluted with surface materials and find its way into the local groundwater. When a permeable paver system is installed, storm water has no harmful surface materials to hit and carry off into the water supply. Instead, rainwater seeps directly into the ground in the most natural manner possible, with no harmful surface substances.
#5 Water quality and collection
Instead of heavy rains causing erosion and possible floodwaters, water can easily seep through the upper levels of permeable pavers, typically composed of gravel or porous rock, into the sub-level and on into the groundwater. This collects water of a much better quality than surface runoff water, and allows water to easily enter the local groundwater system. Forward-thinking communities can even enhance this natural process by installing water collection systems during construction.
#6 Heat island effect
In the heat of summer, blazing sunshine strikes the surface of traditional paved roads and parking lots and reflects back up into the local atmosphere. During the daylight hours, this can create a significant cumulative effect, multiplying the impact of heat waves and creating a greenhouse atmosphere across the city landscape. This is not true of permeable paver systems, which do not reflect the warmth of the sun back up into the air. When the impacts of all roadways and all parking lots in a given city or town are added together, the heat gain can be enormous, creating an island of heat.
#7 Mud and dust control
In the midst of any dry spell in a town or city, the dust raised from normal traffic can be a cause for concern both for visibility and for breathing air. Conversely, during periods of very wet weather, water runoff from traditional road surfaces and grassy overflow parking lots can create mud holes which also cause problems. Neither of these two situations occurs with the use of permeable paver systems.
#8 Grass paving
Grass paving can be a very effective engineering approach, especially in the case of overflow parking lot areas. By using a plastic permeable paver base with grass fill, even the very heaviest weights can be supported, while the parking area remains aesthetically appealing. Since any heavy rain would seep directly into the ground and on into the groundwater system, the possibility of creating a mud pit in the parking area is avoided.
#9 Maintenance costs
Typical asphalt or concrete roadways and parking lots inevitably require maintenance and repairs, especially in areas where heavy snows occur, and road treatment and plowing services are required. In these communities, the Department of Transportation often maintains a summer crew of workers dedicated to such repairs, and local paving contractors are likewise kept busy. By contrast, maintenance costs for permeable pavers are virtually nil because they do not crack or degrade, and no potholes ever need filling.
Because permeable paver solutions are modular in design and can easily be put together after analysis of specific local requirements, they can be adapted to almost any set of circumstances in any environment. Traditional methods are far less flexible, and often simply cannot provide an adequate solution for local requirements.
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