The “green” movement has focused more attention on storm water runoff and the environmental effects of impervious surfaces. Increasingly, permeable systems that incorporate brick pavers in the installation are what both commercial and residential customers want: a filtration system without losing the aesthetic appeal of genuine clay pavers.

At the same time, industry observers point out that homeowners are more often embracing green building materials, products, and processes, both in new construction and remodeling projects, including outdoor spaces.

“Homeowners are reconnecting with their outdoor space, often in creative and imaginative ways,” said Perry Howard, FASLA, president of the American Society of Landscape Architects. “More and more landscape architects see a demand for incorporating and quantifying sustainable design, especially on the commercial side.”

In the commercial marketplace, clients are increasingly focusing on earning the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification. Many are concentrating on porous paving systems and other methods to manage runoff.

An answer

Renee Lawson, marketing manager of Pine Hall Brick, reports that clay brick pavers meet all of those challenges. To match this market need, the company has introduced RainPave and StormPave, which are genuine clay pavers for use in a permeable paving installation system. The system enables rainwater to filter back into the soil, instead of going down storm drains and picking up pollutants along the way.

RainPave is a Rumbled brick paver for residential use, and StormPave is an English edge paver for commercial applications. Both products look similar to pavers Pine Hall has offered for decades.

They differ in the spacing between the pavers and the inclusion of a specially constructed paving system underneath the surface, which enables water to filter through instead of flowing over the units. Rather than a gravel and sand base and sand swept into the joints, a #2 stone is used as a sub-base. Then, a base of #57 stone is used, followed by a bedding layer of #8 aggregate, which is also swept into the joints.

The two products are particularly useful among residential customers and developers who are concerned with the environment. In commercial applications, these permeable pavers contribute to a best practices installation that can qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification points under Credit 6, Sustainable Site - Stormwater Design.

In cities like Atlanta, for example, the development of larger houses on smaller lots has led to local ordinances limiting the size of impervious areas, like concrete or asphalt driveways, that don't allow water infiltration. “A permeable driveway made of RainPave pavers allows for a larger house footprint, while giving the classic appearance of a Rumbled brick driveway,” said Lawson.

In appearance, StormPave units are designed to look like traditional English Edge pavers, but have larger spacer nibs. The product works well in institutional and commercial projects where joint openings need to meet Americans with Disabilities Act restrictions, impervious surface restrictions apply, and onsite retention/infiltration is mandated. For some commercial applications, the permeable pavements replace retention ponds, enabling developers to build on more land.

“Clay pavers are inherently green, embracing the idea of sustainable design,” said Lawson. “They have an unsurpassed life cycle, are energy efficient, are made of Triassic shale (the most abundant raw material on the planet), have minimal waste in their manufacture, and have countless recycling options.”

Lawson also noted that because brick is produced in 38 of the 50 states, it is normally transported no more than 175 miles to a jobsite, so transportation costs are relatively efficient, qualifying for LEED certification under Credit 5.1, Regional Materials: Extracted, Processed, and Manufactured Regionally.

Clay pavers don't require packaging, and the amount of energy needed to mine, manufacture, and transport one standard brick is 14,000 Btus, which is less than concrete, glass, steel, or wood.

In addition to sustainable design, ASLA is predicting that both commercial and residential clients will continue to incorporate more gardens, walking paths, and similar designs, which are intended for relaxation and enjoyment of the outdoor environment.