Ever since the first asphalt streets were laid in Sydney in the early 1930s, the use of concrete has become the default choice for high pedestrian and vehicular traffic spaces throughout Australia’s urban landscape. Now with an increased focus on sustainability throughout design and the wider community, an attitude shift has occurred with people now looking at alternatives to traditional building methods.
Grass pavers are a sustainable and functional alternative to medium-traffic spaces that would traditionally be concreted such as emergency access, overflow parking, home driveways, golf buggy paths and for slope stabilisation. Grass pavers provide a wide range of environmental, aesthetic and commercial benefits.
Initiatives such as the national 202020 Vision, which aims for 20 percent more green spaces in urban areas by 20202, as well as the National Water Initiative, Australia’s blueprint for water reform, have identified the need for greener urban development and how pervious grass surfaces can play a significant role in achieving these goals.
Here we look at the benefits of grass paving and the challenges faced with its use in regularly trafficked areas.
The environmental benefits of turf over concrete, and its contribution to the sustainability of our environment are enormous.
Hardscapes such as concrete or paving can cause wide ranging environmental issues. These can seal off sections of the earth surface and become heat sinks, absorbing large amounts of energy and then radiating that heat energy back into the surrounding areas. In addition, these impervious hard-surfaced areas can create storm water overflows when it rains which can lead to local flooding problems.
Stormwater runoff and permeability
As part of its Urban Stormwater Management Plan, The Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage list four key principles for water sensitive urban design:
- Minimising impervious areas
- Minimising use of formal drainage systems
- Encouraging infiltration
- Encouraging stormwater use
Key water sensitive design techniques to implementing these principles include substituting the use of impervious surfaces with alternatives such as grass pavers for applications such as car parks, as well as creating grass swales to replace kerb and gutter and piped drainage systems.
The benefits of using pervious surfaces such as grass pavers include:
- Reducing the amount of rainfall runoff, thereby eliminating or minimising the extent of the stormwater drainage system
- Reducing or avoiding downstream flooding
- Recharging and maintaining aquifers and the natural groundwater
- Trapping pollutants that would otherwise contaminate groundwater or drainage systems
Permeable surfaces and soil compaction
Permeable grass solutions are generally overlooked for vehicular access spaces in favour of concrete, due to the latters’ ability to withstand traffic for long periods of time without much impact. High foot traffic and especially vehicle traffic can result in soil compaction in these spaces.
Compaction occurs when a force compresses the soil and pushes air and water out of it so that it becomes denser. Soil compaction can restrict root movement, infiltration, drainage and air circulation and erosion, rendering the environmental and aesthetic benefits of the grass totally void.
One solution that can be used to help with these issues is TurfPave XD grass pavers from Elmich, which have been developed to provide architects and designers the ability to create stabilised grass areas with a 100% permeable solution. This area can then effectively support loads imposed by large vehicles and protect grass roots against compaction, providing designers and developers with a grassed alternative to concrete and asphalt surfaces.
TurfPave XD distributes loads from pedestrian and vehicular traffic to the base course below, this protects grass roots against compaction. The interconnected cells allow roots to develop with minimal restriction, resulting in a durable and stable grass surface. With high water permeability, TurfPave XD helps to reduce stormwater run-off, reducing dependence on stormwater systems and promoting sustainable groundwater recharge.
Article supplied by Elmich Australia
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