Sustainable Benefits of Permeable Concrete Pavement

Recently I attended an American Society of Civil Engineers Northern Utah Branch luncheon about permeable concrete. Jonathan Bowers, LEED AP from PSOMAS Engineering was the main presenter, and Dr. Steve Burian from the University of Utah also contributed to the presentation. Jonathan Bowers and PSOMAS Engineering has created a permeable concrete mix design that has been used on multiple projects in Utah.

The use of permeable concrete has many sustainable benefits. First, the use of permeable concrete decreases the runoff of stormwater events. The porous nature of permeable concrete pavement allows rain events to drain through the pavement instead of running off the pavement to traditional stormwater detention/retention systems. This allows project engineers to reduce the size and complexity of on-site stormwater systems, resulting in potential cost savings.

The second benefit of permeable concrete pavement is the ability to recharge the groundwater aquifer. Areas that traditionally had little to no groundwater recharge can find significant recharge benefits with the installation of permeable concrete pavement as the water is allowed to drain into the natural aquifer.

Attendees of the luncheon also had some concerns with the application of permeable concrete: (1) Are the recharge of groundwater from parking lots potentially contaminating the aquifer? (2) Will the permeable concrete pavement maintain the structural integrity through the freeze-thaw cycles that are present in areas such as Utah? Jonathan and Dr. Burian both presented data pertaining to current permeable concrete pavement projects in Utah that have maintained structural integrity through a full year of Utah’s climate, showing that it can be sustained through the freeze-thaw cycles.

The presenters expressed the importance of training contractors to understand how to correctly install permeable concrete. Few contractors within Utah understand and have received the necessary training to correctly install the product, but the pool of knowledgeable contractors is currently growing.

Overall Civil Solutions Group supports the use of permeable concrete pavement in certain applications. The enhanced benefits to the stormwater system and the groundwater aquifer are too great to ignore the possible application of permeable concrete pavement.

More information pertaining to permeable concrete pavement can be found in this article.