Sustainable Building & Development - Permeable Paving
Storm water runoff is an expensive and difficult problem facing many municipalities. Pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins are washed into streams, rivers and bays, contaminating those precious resources and endangering wildlife and drinking water supplies. In addition, the sheer amount of runoff can overwhelm municipal systems.
Permeable paving is a method of paving low-traffic roads, walkways and parking lots in a way that permits air and water to move through the surface, reducing surface runoff from storm water and other sources. Permeable paving systems use materials such as durable, porous concrete, asphalt or plastic load-bearing surfaces over a bed of crushed stone.
While many new permeable paving products are virtually indistinguishable from their traditional cousins, their impact on the environment is dramatically better.
The EPA's Office of Water conducted some field tests of permeable paving systems for storm water management. Their two page report shows the results of various paving systems.
A more detailed report from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation on storm water management can be found on their web site. Buried deep inside their Design Manual, Chapter Nine (pages 9-37) is an excellent report on permeable paving with guidance for siting, installation techniques and costs.
The Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council has a fact sheet explaining permeable paving, how it works, what types are available, and the benefits and drawbacks of permeable paving.