Permeable Pavement

What Is Permeable Pavement?

When you think of paved surfaces, the term “eco-friendly” may not immediately come to mind. But new advancements in paving technology have, in fact, produced types of pavement that actually are considered to be environmentally sound. Permeable pavement – also referred to as “green pavement” – is paving material that allows rainwater to run through it instead of running off it or accumulating in potholes or depressions in the pavement. These materials include a gravel reservoir sublayer where water is stored and then allowed to slowly seep into the soil below. The gravel actually acts as a natural filter for the water, clearing it of all pollutants before allowing it to infiltrate the soil underneath the surface.

This type of permeable pavement provides several advantages, including the following:

  • In hot climates, permeable asphalt and concrete stays cooler during the summer due to the circulation of the rainwater through the paving mix, as well as the lighter color of the mixture.
  • In colder climates, ice doesn’t form as readily on the paved surface since precipitation seeps through the pavement instead of accumulating on top of the pavement. This makes parking lots, walkways, etc. much safer during the winter months.
  • The permeable asphalt and concrete mixes can be made from recycled materials. Of course, there are also some disadvantages that come with “green pavement”:
  • Permeable pavement is more expensive to install than traditional asphalt and concrete.
  • This new type of paving material isn’t as durable as conventional pavement. For that reason, it is not yet suitable to use in areas that experience a lot of heavy traffic, such as airport runways or freeways, for example.
  • Permeable pavement needs to be maintained regularly in order to function properly.

Although the technology is somewhat new, and will likely evolve over the next several years, permeable pavement holds much promise for the future. In addition to permeable concrete and asphalt mixes, both plastic and concrete pavers are available that incorporate the same principle as permeable pavement. And while this revolutionary paving material is primarily used right now for sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, its use will undoubtedly expand in the future as the technology is fine-tuned and researchers find a way to increase the strength and durability of the pavement.

If you thought that all concrete and asphalt are created equal – or that technological advances don’t take place inside the paving industry – think again! Permeable pavement is just one example of how research and ingenuity are playing a role in creating more eco-friendly paving solutions for the future.