Construction has a long-standing history of contributing tons of harmful gas emissions. Over the years, vast improvements have been made to reduce the damages to our ecosystems and atmosphere. But, one material, in general, has remained unchanged — asphalt. Asphalt has a longstanding reputation for being environmentally friendly. There are a couple of ways by choosing asphalt you are “going green.”
WHY GREEN ASPHALT IS IMPORTANT In today’s society, we have two environments: the natural and the built. The natural environment recycles rainfall organically. The water will become absorbed by the soil and filter into water systems like a stream, lake, pond, or underground aquifers. A built system, by contrast, interrupts the natural process. The building materials can act like a sealant and prevent the rain from filtering appropriately. Instead, water levels rise because there is nowhere to go completely sidestepping the filtration nature intended. It can take with it contaminants that can cause issues within the system.Fortunately, there are stormwater management tools such as porous pavement. Site planners have been implementing this type of construction material since the 70s and have been proving their worth ever since. Through proper design and installation, porous asphalt not only provides a practical solution for managing stormwater but is also cost-effective and long-lasting. Proper installation will improve the quality of water, encourage appropriate infiltration, and sometimes remove the need for a detention basin. As the water passes through the pavement, many contaminants are removed allowing the water to cycle through appropriate microbial action.
HOW POROUS ASPHALT WORKS Success is giving the water the option to go somewhere. Other, non-porous materials, will allow the water to sit. It’s terrible for the pavement and the environment. The building materials utilize an open-graded system giving the water the ability to seep down to a stone bed. From there it’s absorbed into the soil. The key to success is the depth of the subbase. At 18 to 36 inches, the stone bed is thick enough that even with heavy rains, the water will not rise back to the surface. When it’s not sitting on the surface, water doesn’t have the opportunity to mix with harmful products like gas or oil.
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IMPROVING WATER QUALITY We’ve been talking a lot about how beneficial and environmentally friendly the product is, but let’s take a closer look. Research on the product has been conducted since its inception. The University of New Hampshire conducted studies that showed large removal rates for “total suspended solids” such as metals, oil, and grease. The treatment performance for porous pavement has been so great it “consistently exceeds EPA’s recommended level of removal of total suspended solids, and meets regional ambient water quality criteria for petroleum hydrocarbons and zinc. Researchers observed limited phosphorus treatment and none for nitrogen, which is consistent with other non-vegetated infiltration systems.”The studies went on to illustrate 99% of suspended solids were removed, and there were significant improvements to winter maintenance. Salt used for deicing roads can be quite harmful to the environment. With porous pavement, the salt needed was reduced to 25% or some instances not needed at all.
HOW LONG IT LASTS Porous pavement lasts in two ways: construction and infiltration. Water can deteriorate materials at an alarming rate. It would suggest then that the porous material would be subject to the same fate. However, studies show that this type of blacktop can last over twenty years and not suffer from cracking and potholes. Throughout 25-year precipitation, research showed that a parking lot at a Pennsylvania State Visitor center never had issues with infiltration. That means that water was readily absorbed into the asphalt and then the soil. Throughout that timeframe, there was no discharge found on the surface after a storm. To further illustrate the effects of a porous asphalt we can look at a parking lot in Massachusetts that was built in 1977. Since its installation, the pavement has not been repaved once nor has there been issues with the absorption rate.
RECYCLING AND ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY ASPHALT SOLUTIONS There is more than one way to stay green when it comes to asphalt.
FULLY RECYCLABLE Asphalt construction materials are entirely recyclable. And, since it’s used all over the world, it makes it one of the most recycled materials on the planet. Because it can be recycled, there is a significant reduction in waste sustaining healthier environments.
NEEDS LESS REPAIRING Concrete doesn’t hold up as well to temperature fluctuations as well as a blacktop. It will often crack, and repairs are challenging with that sort of material. Pavement is more flexible and stands up to heavyweight, friction, and weather. The need for patching, cracking filling, and resurfacing dramatically reduces.
USES LESS ENERGY Laying asphalt takes less time than others in its category. It doesn’t require days to cure which means it’s only a matter of time before the roads can be used again. There is less equipment involved showing a reduction in energy consumption just to get it in place. There is also evidence that the surface will continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time.
GREEN ASPHALT NASHVILLE It’s easy to do your part to reduce your carbon footprint with asphalt. By choosing porous asphalt or recycled materials, you can ensure you are doing your part to keep our environment healthy. Contact Roadbuilders to learn more.
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Categorised in: Asphalt, Green Asphalt