You may have heard that asphalt is already an environmentally friendly choice for pavement when compared to materials such as concrete. Typically, the ease of recycling is cited as a chief reason for this superiority. But in practice, the eco-friendliness of your parking lot depends a lot on design and specific details.
Here are some ideas to help you extend your eco-friendly building design to your paving job.
1. Use Recycled Asphalt
If you use recycled asphalt rather than all-new materials, you’re helping the environment in a variety of ways. For instance, the energy needed to mine the new materials, any pollution from the mining, the transportation fuel, and the processing needed to manufacture the asphalt product are bypassed when you use recycled content.
Recycled asphalt isn’t just a great way to go green; it offers other benefits as well. For instance, you could save money by using a lot of recycled material and your pavement could actually turn out stronger than if you’d used all-new materials. Talk to your contractor about using the highest possible percentage of recycled content or your new paving job.
And if your paving job is a replacement rather than a new pavement, don’t forget to have the old asphalt material recycled as well. In fact, some contractors can actually crush the old pavement onsite and reuse it for your new parking lot.
2. Consider Warm Mix Asphalt
If you choose warm mix asphalt over hot mix asphalt for your pavement installation, you could end up saving quite a bit on energy and emissions. While the benefits are most obvious in huge road projects, a warm mix asphalt installation can also be more eco-friendly when used for your parking lot.
The reason warm mix is an eco-friendly option is because less fuel, energy, and emissions production is required. That’s because the lower temperatures are easier to achieve with less energy required, saving energy both during the job itself and at the manufacturing stage.
3. Design to Reduce and Process Stormwater Runoff
Your parking lot doesn’t just affect the environment at the manufacturing and installation stages. Throughout the lifetime of the pavement, stormwater runoff will occur. This runoff may be contaminated with substances such as engine fluids that have dripped onto your pavement or petroleum products found in the pavement itself.
Several potential technologies, such as a type of asphalt that produces relatively harmless runoff and a type of asphalt that’s permeable so water flows through, may be available to help reduce the amount of runoff. Talk to your contractor about these and other methods of mitigating runoff.
Depending on the codes in your area, you may need a bioretention pond to manage your parking lot’s runoff. Simple ways to increase the processing and reduce pollution from your parking lot’s runoff include:
- Make the retention pond as large as possible (10% of the parking lot area is recommended)
- Design drainage to avoid erosion as water heads toward the pond
- Include plenty of filtration layers to remove contaminants from the water
- Include plenty of appropriate native plants to help process the water
These methods can help you design your wastewater management process thoughtfully with the environment in mind.
4. Consider Light-Colored Sealcoat
Sealcoating is a commonly recommended maintenance step for asphalt pavement since it helps protect the asphalt surface and improve performance. If you choose a sealcoating product that also helps lighten the color of your pavement, you could help to mitigate the excess heat that a dark-colored asphalt surface can collect.
Asphalt tends to absorb and hold the sun’s heat, which allows it to contribute significantly to the heat island effect in your area. Reducing the asphalt’s temperature allows you to reduce your parking lot’s contribution to the urban heat island effect. Cutting back on this effect is eco-friendly since the heat island can affect water quality and increase greenhouse gases.
These ideas can help you think through and mitigate your pavement’s impact on the environment, making it a more eco-friendly installation. For more information on parking lot installations and other pavement services, get in touch with Arrow Blacktop & Masonry, Inc., today.