Words like “sustainable” and “responsible” continue to grow in importance with today’s consumers as we collectively become more conscientious about how our actions affect the world around us and the legacy we leave behind. However, we still wish to enjoy our time on this planet.
Enter the permeable paver. Permeable pavers give homeowners the opportunity to create eye-catching, livable outdoor spaces that actually improve the environment and allow us to leave the world better and more beautiful than we found it.
The technology is ingeniously simple. Permeable pavers are laid on multiple layers of crushed stone, and the joints between each paver are filled with smaller aggregate. This design allows water to instantly drain through the joints and percolate through the layers of aggregate below, where any impurities are trapped before water seeps into the ground and returns to local waterways. To create the ultimate sustainable patio, driveway or walkway, the system can be designed to collect and recycle rainwater for irrigation and other purposes.
And here’s the best part…in many states and municipalities with water conservation and stormwater management initiatives, there are often grants or tax incentives available for installing permeable pavers or a water harvesting system, which makes the idea of installing a permeable patio, walkway or driveway all the more attractive.
At the 2017 Hardscape North America tradeshow held in Louisville, Kentucky, the U.S. and Canada hardscape industry judged residential and commercial hardscape designs from across North America for the 2017 HNA Awards. These awards are the industry’s top honors for contractors designing and installing projects using concrete pavers, segmental retaining walls, clay brick, porcelain, and combinations of these hardscapes. Belgard was pleased to have products showcased in 12 of the honored designs, placing in 10 of the 16 categories. Homeowners planning an outdoor living makeover in 2018 can pull inspiration from the award-winning and innovative designs from these residential categories. Click on the galleries below to view slideshows of photos from each project.
WHIMSICAL PAVER PATIO
PROJECT CREDITS Category: Concrete Pavers, less than 3,000 SF (WINNER). Contractor: Paver Designs, LLC. Designer: Justin Hampton. Product: Dublin Cobble®.
In colder climates, it’s not uncommon for driveways, walkways or patios to be installed with either a heated pavement system or a permeable pavement system to help control ice buildup. This homeowner, however, chose to combine the two systems into one to create the ultimate ice-management pavement system.
Benefits of a Combined Heated/Permeable Pavement System
With a heated pavement system, snow and ice melt immediately to prevent accumulation, but if the surface is not graded properly, or if the pavement settles or degrades over time, there can be pooling or other issues. In comparison, a permeable system allows melting snow to drain into the joints and down into the subsurface rather than remaining on the surface and refreezing into ice. Typically, a plow clears the bulk of the snow, ice melt is applied, and the water goes away. However, with a combined heated permeable pavement system, no plowing or ice melt is needed. All snow or freezing rain that hits the surface melts and drains immediately. Plus, concrete pavers are more durable than poured concrete or asphalt, ensuring increased longevity of a properly working system. After two winters, the homeowners report that the system is performing beautifully, with no water or snow accumulation whatsoever.
How Does It Work?
Heating cables are laid out in the bedding layer, beneath the pavers. Two heat/moisture sensors, each about the size of a tennis ball, are installed in the pavement to automatically turn the heating cables on when there is both precipitation and a below-freezing temperature. When the system is on, it takes a lot of electricity to heat the 4,300 SF drive and walkway, necessitating the addition of a 400-amp pedestal to operate the system. However, because the sensors require both moisture and freezing temperatures, the system is rarely on.
Installing the System
Although, the system was planned to include only 18” of excavation, abnormal site conditions required 36” of excavation. A variable base of aggregate was then installed – 27” of #2 stone, 4” of #57, and 2” of #9. A heating cable was installed within the #9 stone layer. In order to maximize the amount of heat transferred from the heating cable to the pavers, the stone separating the cable and pavers needs as much contact with both as possible. Crushed stone with fines transfers the most heat, but doesn’t drain, so it isn’t used in a permeable installation. Instead, the heating cable manufacturer, Warmzone Radiant, recommended smaller drainage stone (#9) because it has more contact with the cable and transfers more heat than larger stone. A layer of sand was then installed over the aggregate to create a cushion between the heating cable and the pavers. This was done to prevent potential paver movement from wearing through the cable’s protective coating over time, which could short out the entire system. The crew also took extra care during the handling and installation of the cable to safeguard the protective coating and ensure long-term functionality of the system.
2014 HNA Project Award Winner – Residential Concrete Permeable Pavers
Design/build Contractor: Grindstone Hardscapes, Josh & Kristen Graczyk, Owners
Location: Grand Island, Nebraska
For over a decade, the gradual trend has been for homeowners to transform the formerly open backyards of existing homes into definable “outdoor living” spaces. In new home construction, however, this phenomenon has grown exponentially in more recent years to the point that outdoor living has becoming a standard feature at just about any price level. Although upgraded outdoor living spaces are more common at higher price levels, new construction home buyers at all levels want to know that they’ll be able to live in and enjoy their outdoor spaces. According to builders, realtors and landscape architects, some definable trends have emerged as being “highly desirable” to potential buyers.
Indoor/Outdoor Convergence: For several years, the trend has been to create outdoor living areas that mimic indoor living. This has evolved in a way that with many new home designs, there is no distinct separation between the indoor and outdoor spaces, but more of a fluid separation between the two areas. These types of designs might incorporate floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls, stackable doors or floor materials that contribute to that sense of flow. For example, Belgard Porcelain Pavers were designed for outdoor use, but coordinate with a line of interior porcelain tile, which allows for the same flooring aesthetic to be used both inside and outside of the home.
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Fully Functioning Kitchens: Although this trend is more typically seen in higher priced homes, smaller homes are jumping on the outdoor kitchen bandwagon, even if on a smaller scale — like with a simple built-in grill. But for mid-level homes and above, buyers want an outdoor kitchen with all the conveniences of an indoor kitchen, and then some. In luxury homes, the outdoor kitchen often costs more than the indoor kitchen, with amenities that incorporate everything from dishwashers to brick ovens. In many cases, the outdoor kitchen also functions as an outdoor bar and includes items like roll-top beverage coolers, kegerators and wine refrigerators.
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Integrated Audio/Visual and Lighting: New homes of every price range are incorporating outdoor televisions and sound systems, even if on the smaller scale of an outdoor-rated bluetooth speaker system. Mid-level homes and above are taking the trend to the next level with outdoor sound systems that are integrated with the interior of the home so that the same music can be played inside the home as outside, which follows the indoor/outdoor convergence trend. With the rapid advance of smart phone technology, this can be taken to an even higher level with systems that can operate off of a mobile app to control every electronic aspect of the outdoor living space, including TVs, sound systems, lighting, fire features and pool equipment.
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Intimate Outdoor Spaces: Home buyers are interested in having a relaxing outdoor living area where they can socialize and unwind, creating a trend towards more cozy seating areas, often incorporating a fireplace or fire pit. Some experts relate this trend to the fact that there’s typically a TV in every room of the house, so a cozy outdoor space away from a TV can be a place to escape. Unlike expansive outdoor kitchen spaces, which may be limited to luxury homes, an “outdoor retreat” can be created on a smaller budget and appeals to buyers at all levels. In fact, a cozy outdoor space can easily be created by adding a freestanding wall or two. With the help of a few staged furnishing, potential buyers can get a feel for how they would live in the outdoor space.
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Sustainable Design: According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, this year’s top trends in landscape design include both rainwater harvesting and the use of permeable pavers. Although a standard permeable paver installation simply allows water to filter through the paver joints into the ground below, a permeable paver system can be designed to also harvest and recycle rainwater, converging these two trends into one and allowing the reclaimed water to be used for garden irrigation and other uses. Current top landscape trends also include native plants and low-maintenance landscaping.
The use of permeable pavers in driveway construction is growing exponentially across the country, particularly in areas with water use restrictions or strict stormwater management guidelines. Not only do permeable pavers boost your curb appeal, they also positively impact the environment by decreasing stormwater runoff and improving the water quality of local waterways.
How, you ask? It’s ingeniously simple, actually. Permeable pavers are installed over a gradient bed of aggregate, with tiny aggregate filling the joints between each paver. As rainwater falls onto the pavers (or drains onto the pavers from another surface), the water percolates through the paver joints and down through the base materials below. There, the water is filtered by the aggregates, removing a number of pollutants before the water makes it’s way into the groundwater supply or returns to local waterways. The rising trend is to incorporate an underground cistern with a pump under the paver system so that the filtered water can be captured and recycled. A number of states and municipalities offer grants or tax incentives for these types of rainwater harvesting systems. The recycled water can be used for irrigation, water features, or other greywater uses.
Constructing a driveway with permeable pavers can also provide a number of other solutions for homeowners. For example, for steep driveways, permeable paver construction is safer during rainy weather conditions than traditional impervious surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, because rain can permeate through pavers instead of pooling on the surface, thus improving traction.
In areas prone to heavy snow, a heating system can also be installed under the sand base of the pavers so that snow or icy rain immediately melts and drains away, eliminating snow shoveling or ice accumulation. The sand acts as a buffer between the pavers and the coils, preventing damage from any shifting caused by automotive traffic.
What happens when kids get involved in the design of a playground? Amazing things! Just ask the community surrounding Atlanta’s Chastain Park. The only public playground serving the 85,000 school-age children within a 5-mile radius, the park’s playground had not been renovated since 2000 and was in dire need of an upgrade. The existing playground had a lot of deficiencies, primarily in that it really only appealed to a small demographic (ages 5-12). The majority of the play structures were too dangerous for smaller children, yet not challenging enough for older children.
Enter play specialist consultant Cynthia Gentry, an expert in childhood development who met with school children from the surrounding community to begin the design concepts. Kids were asked to imagine what they’d like to see on the playground and put that imagery into drawings, which became the inspiration for the all of the designs.
Gentry then enlisted the help of another consultant, Robin Moore, who specializes in nature-based play, currently a strong movement in childhood development circles. Together, Gentry and Moore conducted a charrette, or meeting of the minds, with representatives from the private school located inside the park’s grounds, local public schools and pre-schools, civic associations, the Parks Commission, and various members of the community. At the charrette, the group reviewed all of the children’s drawings and synthesized them into rough design concepts. A second charrette was held at NC State to compound all of the concepts into one overall design.
Landscape Architect Bill Caldwell took the ball from there, handling permits and turning the master plan into design documents for drainage, utilities, elevation, landscaping, hardscaping, and construction of the restroom pavilion. Caldwell contracted renown water resources engineer consultant, Bill Jorden, to develop the stormwater management plan to meet all of Atlanta’s ordinances for stormwater runoff quality and quantity.
“Our goal was to not create a detention pond on a beautiful site of rolling hills and historic oak trees. I also didn’t want to have to convert the flat spaces currently used for open play. Belgard products helped us to avoid these traditional stormwater management strategies,” Caldwell said.
“Because the playground was being built into a hillside, the project required substantial retaining walls, which initially called for poured concrete. We got two Mega-Tandem Walls for the price of one poured concrete wall. Also, using the Mega-Tandem allowed us to value-engineer the pavilion and reduce the amount of poured concrete needed for the foundation. Overall, we saved over $200,000 on the project, factoring the cost savings on the pavilion and the site walls,” Caldwell said.
In addition, the 9,000 square feet of permeable paver walkways controls the amount of rainwater runoff that rolls downhill, which alleviates erosion problems. “An impervious system would have caused a concentration of water flow to the lower elevations, which would have generated more runoff than the original site,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell also notes that the Belgard permable pavers and retaining walls allowed him to create the playground out of what was formerly unusable space. “I love the fact that we took a hillside with a 12-15 degree slope that was basically non-functional and turned it into a 1-acre parkland that is a highly functional and usable space and has become a high-value component of the park,” he said. “We created something out of nothing.”
And what Caldwell considers the best part…this playgound was designed by kids for kids, regardless of age or abilities. The entire playground is ADA compliant, with multiple handicap accessible play elements. “Even the texture of the permeable paver walkway adds a sensory element for children with sensory disabilities, which is not something they would get with a smooth poured concrete sidewalk. Addressing disabilities of multiple spectrums was always part of the discussion from the beginning,” Caldwell said.