Standing in the middle of a parking lot on a bright sunny day can play tricks on your senses. It looks like a parking lot. It feels like a parking lot. It even sounds like a parking lot.
Go out there while rain is falling, though, and you realize something different: that parking lot is actually a stormwater management system. Unfortunately, many lots make all that stormwater somebody else’s problem by simply dumping runoff into the sewer system.
Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Ill., decided its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability demanded a greener approach to its parking lots, especially because the local sewer system was already capacity-challenged.
They invested in a 400-car permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) parking lot. PICP is a system that includes layers of aggregate material beneath the concrete pavers that let stormwater trickle down while pollutants are filtered out.
“Using PICP allowed us to eliminate unattractive and space-consuming detention ponds,” explains Jay Womack, ASLA, LEED AP, who recommended the system to the college; he was director of sustainable design at Wight & Company, Darien, Ill., and is currently director of landscape and ecological design for WRD Environmental in Chicago. “We were designing a new LEED Registered (Silver) residence hall for the college, and making the hall’s parking lot ‘green’ by using PICP just made sense.”
PICP systems can also save money by negating the need for a separate water detention facility.
Have you used PICP in your own parking facilities? Was it for new construction or a retrofit? And what has your experience with it been so far? All comments are welcome.