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December 18, 2005 

Paving Success with Stormwater

Chuck Taylor lives for rain. Sure, he's heard the comments about not having enough sense about his habit of standing outside during a downpour. His preference for rain isn't that this contractor enjoys the smell of wet clothing, Taylor's fascination with inclement weather comes from the satisfaction while seeing his company's workmanship perform.

Evidence is today's shower at The Morton Arboretum. Even after this heavy daylong rain in late fall, the parking lot constructed in late 2003 looks dry. Every puddle-free parking space is testimony to the important, increasing acceptance of pervious interlocking pavement. This is especially true when the venue is an influential ecological setting.

The Morton Arboretum, located in Lisle, Ill., 35 miles west of Chicago, is a 1700-acre expanse of carefully designed landscaped projects. Nature conservators and landscape architects worldwide come to view trees and plants in carefully sculptured settings. About three years ago, the director decided to use a planned parking lot expansion as a test of pervious systems he had seen in Germany.

The paving project has been a watershed for Advanced Pavement Technology (APT), Taylor's recently formed pervious pavement design/build firm in Oswego, Ill. An APT-certified contractor was the installer on this high-profile project. Pervious pavers were selected for their ecological advantages. Late last year, the nature conservators, the paver manufacturer, installer, and others, hosted a symposium to acquaint architects and city and building officials with the system.

Taylor believes this market has much growth potential. And the industry seems positioned for more growth even with a strong overall paver market. The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) recently reported their annual concrete paver sales in North America for 2003. (See graph on page 32.)

Paver sales in North America totaled 615 million square feet in 2003, with the United States accounting for 530 million square feet. The market is growing at more than an 8% annually.

"This growth shows the continued strength of the segmental concrete pavement market in North America, especially in the residential and municipal markets," says Steve Berry, ICPI's chairman. The residential market continues to account for almost 75% of total paver sales, with commercial at 18%, and municipal at 3%. Unfortunately, ICPI was not able to supply any current information on the size of the pervious pavement market.

Green lights ahead

Land developers, architectural engineers, and building owners are recognizing ecological paving systems as important elements to their new projects, according to Taylor. They find these systems ecological, as they improve a site's water quality because they allow rainwater infiltration and natural groundwater recharge.

Property owners are finding flexible pervious paving systems to be economical. Since these systems often comply with the EPA's Phase II Rule, zoning officials who are aware of the benefits may waive the requirement for retention or detention ponds. For less than the additional cost of a flexible pervious paved parking lot, developers quite often discover they can reduce construction costs by eliminating or reducing the size of drainage and retention systems. "But most owners focus on the benefit they receive from the greater efficiency in land-use," says Taylor.

Another factor in the increasing focus on flexible pervious paving systems is its inclusion in the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for new commercial construction. The committee responsible for overseeing the nation's fastest-growing building ecological rating system has made stormwater containment a high priority when assessing a site's environmental performance.

Designers usually can receive LEED credits for selecting pervious paving systems in several categories. Reviewers can award credits for using pervious paving systems in stormwater management if it reduces runoff (SS credit 6.2). Designers also can be rewarded when they use a pervious system to help treat water before release (SS credit 6.2). In some cases, using a pervious paver system can earn a credit because some pervious service designs also help reduce potential soil loss and contain the release of suspended solids.

Public work officials also are recognizing the ecological benefits, as reported in the December 2004 issue of PUBLIC WORKS, THE CONCRETE PRODUCER's sister magazine. The movement is spreading from large communities to small towns.

"The use of permeable pavers is increasing all across the United States," said Donna DeNinno, director of marketing for UNI-GROUP U.S.A., an association of UNI Paver manufacturers. "Areas such as the Chesapeake Bay, Minnesota Lakes region, Pacific Northwest, New England, Florida, and California are at the forefront, as they have increasingly restrictive guidelines regarding construction and pollution impact on surrounding surface waters." In 1995, the city of Wilton Manors, Fla., installed UNI-GROUP's UNI Eco-Stone concrete pavers on more than 30,000 square feet of a parking lot serving a recreational

While Taylor has been encouraged by his odyssey in promoting flexible pervious paving systems, he's concerned with industry unity. He believes fully developing the pervious surface market may be more of an effort than many producers are willing to make. He's concerned many paver producers are too busy to deal with the complex marketing. Developing the residential market and selling to large home center stores have hurt the ability to develop the commercial market. But soon they'll find a silver lining, he says.

Subsurface marketing

Taylor says for the industry to profit from the commercial demand for ecological paving systems, paver producers should turn their attention to marketing and promoting to the large contractor. His boss agrees.
Bill Schneider, owner of Decorative Paving Co., of Franklin, Ohio, and LPS Pavement, of Oswego, has specialized in the interlocking pavement contracting business for 30 years. Schneider was involved in pavers before there was an ICPI. Schneider had been part owner of a paver production plant. Now, he backs Taylor's quest to grow the pervious pavement market.

Schneider first wants to reconnect with contractors who are capable of performing the type of work needed for a successful pervious pavement operation. Producers need to recognize that contractors involved in pervious designs should focus on this highly technical paving process. "A pervious paver project requires greater skill than installing a driveway or patio," says Taylor.

With Schneider's backing, Taylor began APT two years ago. The consulting company helps producers by acting as an intermediary between the owner/designer and the contractor.

Taylor believes pervious paver installers need more design options. There currently are predominately two pervious flexible pavement systems with their own marketing efforts in the United States. Both have a common German-based design history and a well-established and successful set of licensees across North America. But Taylor believes the success of these systems also has been a limiting factor in growing the ecco-paver market.

There needs to be more research on designs suitable for North American installations. "Most of the support research for design of pervious flexible pavements has a strong European bias," says Schneider. He believes it's time to refocus research to North American soil conditions, designs, and construction practices.

APT has helped by developing the Bio-Aquifer Storm System (BASS), a flexible, segmental paver system. Project engineers can use the BASS method of construction to expand the base design and to integrate specifically designed pavers into an engineered system that allows for collecting stormwater runoff and supporting heavy axle loads for roads and parking lots.

In addition, due to the types of aggregate used, a natural filtration process will occur, and pollutants that are removed from the runoff will be broken down by bacteria contained in the aggregates. The system complies with the EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, Phase II stormwater program.

Taylor's firm can help installers move to that next level. APT has aligned itself with properly trained paver installers across the country, and has helped complete municipal, commercial, and industrial segmental installations. These include manual and mechanical projects such as the Port of Oakland and the Marshalling Yard at Port of New Orleans.

Shape counts

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