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Benefits  > Stormwater Management
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In an undeveloped, forested site, storm events are moderated by the processes of infiltration into surfaces, evaporation from surfaces, and transpiration from vegetation. Very little stormwater, less than 1%, leaves the site in the form of runoff.

stormwater manament

Pre-development hydrology moderates rainfall. (Photo courtesy of AHBL)
However as a site is developed, increases in impervious surface due to roads, rooftops, sidewalks, and parking areas cause significant changes in the ability of the site to handle stormwater. More water runs off the site – as much as 20-30% -- and far less water is infiltrated, evaporated or transpired. In addition to the increased volume of runoff, it is the speed with which it travels that causes concern.
Runoff can erode soils, change stream patterns, and cause flooding. It can also pick up pollutants along the way. Sediments, toxic metal particles, pesticides and fertilizers, oil and grease, pathogens, excess nutrients, and trash are common stormwater pollutants. Polluted runoff, if not diverted, ends up in waterways. A final concern is that the water is often heated as it flows over paved surfaces and the temperature change in a stream can harm wildlife by both exceeding the temperature range that they tolerate and decreasing the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Post-development hydrology produces erosion and pollution. (Photo courtesy of AHBL)
In urbanized areas, stormwater is frequently diverted to combined sewer systems. This means rainwater is getting treated to same degree (and at the same cost) as raw sewage. In heavy rains, these systems can get maxed out, and raw sewage ends up in the receiving waters, untreated. Even in separated systems, increased volume of stormwater during heavy rains can result in high levels of pollutants ending up in waterways.
Since the primary cause of stormwater runoff is increased impervious surface, sustainable site design seeks to minimize impervious surface as a first step. The second step is to manage the stormwater so that as little of it leaves the site as possible.
This generally requires creating conveyance and storage features that slow, disperse absorb, filter, and inflitrate the water.


Section of interlocking concrete paver

Section of permeable interlocking concrete paver system. Graphic courtesy of Gary Anderson.
Concrete has played a significant role in conventional surface water management by providing conveyance and treatment infrastructure that is durable and impermeable. With the movement toward managing water on site, concrete continues to play a major role, as it is frequently the material of choice to help construct flow control and treatment facilities on site.

With sustainable design, there is considerable interest in mimicking pre-development hydrologic functions as much as possible. This has resulted in a focus on using strategies that emphasize conservation and use of on-site natural features integrated with small-scale

Precast retention system

Precast concrete stormwater retention system typically used beneath pavements.

hydrologic controls. Combined these strategies are known as Low Impact Development or LID. Four LID strategies use concrete:

Pervious Concrete: Pervious concrete is cast-in-place using a mix that leaves significant voids allowing water to percolate through.
Permeable and Grid Paver Systems. Interlocking pavers can allow water to pass through gaps in the blocks or in grid openings designed to provide both structural support and space to hold either grass or gravel.
Green Roofs. Vegetated roofs absorb and release water slowly through evaporation and delayed run-off.
Rainwater Catchment Systems. Concrete cisterns capture water from rainfall and store it for later use in non-potable (not for drinking/eating) use, either toilet flushing or irrigation. Treatment systems can make it suitable for drinking, bathing, etc if warranted.

In addition to providing a more naturalistic solution to stormwater management, LID can reduce the need for large (and frequently expensive) stormwater facilities such as detention ponds. These strategies increase infiltration and can help achieve points under LEED Sustainable Sites Credit 6.


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 Pervious Concrete
Concrete Technology, August, 2007
A properly designed pervious concrete pavement system can reduce the environmental impact often associated with development. This overview discusses the hydrologic design of pervious concrete, both passive and active mitigation systems and the important consideration in design for storms. The article includes a link to a publication on pervious paving design as well.
Located at BookstoreBackyards & Boulevards (2004)
Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, #75300, 192 pages
Available for $25 members, $29.95 non-member. The endless possibilities for residential, commercial and municipal applications fill this book with over 300 pictures. They demonstrate how paver patterns, colors and textures enliven backyard patios, plazas, shopping centers, recreation facilites and residential and commercial districts. This book is a source for design inspiration for manufacturers, contractors and design professionals. This publication is availbale form the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institue.
Located at BookstoreComplete Business Manual for Concrete Paver Contractors (1998)
Charles Vander Kooi, Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, #75100, 240 pages
Available for $60 member, $100 non-member. A comprehensive guide on estimating, bidding, people and company management and planning. This book has the keys to business success for all sizes of concrete paver contracting companies. This publication is available for a fee from Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institue's bookstore.
Located at BookstoreConcrete Pipe Design Manual (2004)
American Concrete Pipe Association, #01-101, 330 pages
Available for $45 member, $22.50 non-member. An indispensable tool to help engineers select the type, size, and strength requirements of pipe. It eliminates the lengthy computations previously required. The manual includes standard installations using the indirect design method. More than 330 pages of tables and figures covering hydraulics of sewers and culverts, live loads and earth loads, supporting strengths and supplemental design data are listed. Detailed example problems of specific applications illustrate the use of the time saving design aids included in the manual.
Located at BookstorePermeable Interlocking Concrete Pavements (2002)
Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, #76602, 54 pages
Available for $10 member, $20 non-member. A guide for design specification, construction and maintenance of pervious pavement made with concrete pavers. Guides designers on using this best management practice for control of stormwater runoff and nonpoint source water pollution.
Located at BookstorePervious Concrete Pavements (2004)
Paul D. Tennis, Michael L. Leming, and David J. Akers, Portland Cement Association, Item Code EB302, 36 pages
Available for $25. Pervious concrete as a paving material has seen renewed interest due to its ability to allow water to flow through itself to recharge groundwater and minimize stormwater runoff. This introduction to pervious concrete pavements reviews its applications and engineering properties, including environmental benefits, structural properties, and durability. Both hydraulic and structural design of pervious concrete pavements are discussed, as well as construction techniques.
Located at BookstorePorous Pavements (2005)
B. K. Ferguson, Portland Cement Association, Item Code: LT 291, 557 pages
Available for $160. This text book on pervious pavement technology covers concrete, asphalt, paving blocks, and others. With its clear explanation and evaluation of each type, it allows landscape architects, civil engineers, and contractors to review and choose materials to meet site-specific conditions. Installation methods, performance levels, and appropriate applications are all addressed. Numerous case studies are included.
Located at BookstoreProject Profiles - Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavements (2005)
Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute
Available for $1. Twelve-page color brochure with 33 pictures and tables showcases eight permeable interlocking concrete pavement projects across North America. The profiles demonstrate that permeable pavers work in practically every climate and soils, addressing local, state and national mandates to reduce runoff and water pollution. Several projects are also profiled in our case study section.
Located at BookstoreThe Patio Portfolio (2004)
Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, #75400, 128 pages
This publication is available for $16.95 members, 19.95 regular. This award-winning publication includes over 200 photos of the finest patio projects designed to inspire design professionals, contractors and homeowners.
Located at BookstoreUK research into the performance of permeable pavement, reservoir structures in controlling... (1995)
...stormwater discharge quantity and quality, C.J. Pratt, J.D.G. Mantle and P.A. Schofield, Water Science and Technology, Volume 32, Issue 1,Pages 63-69,
The paper reports on a field study on a permeable, reservoir pavement constructed in 1986 at Nottingham, UK; surfaced with permeable, concrete block paving; and with a different sub-base stone-type in each of four reservoirs, from which the discharges were monitored for quantity and water quality. Hydrological relationships involving rainfall, outflow, outflow duration and antecedent conditions are presented. Water quality parameters are shown to be stable in value after some six months, by which time surface contaminants on the sub-base stone had been washed out of the construction. As outflow volume is reduced and water quality parameters (SS and Pb) are low in value, pollutant outflow loadings are significantly lower than with traditional, impermeable surfaces.
Download DocumentAchieving LEED® Credits with Segmental Concrete Pavements—Part 1 (2006)
Rob Burek, P.Eng.-ICPI Director of Engineering, Interlocking Concrete Pavement Magazine, May, 2006
This 3 page article reviewed the U.S. and Canadian Green Building Councils LEED® versions for new construction. It provides the why behind LEED®, i.e. a project checklist used voluntarily that aims to reduce construction, energy and water-related operating costs while reducing environmental impacts. It also explains how permeable interlocking concrete pavement can contribute LEED® points through Sustainable Sites (SS) via stormwater management. In addition SS points can be earned through reducing urban heat island on parking lots and roofs, by reducing construction waste, reusing pavers and by using recycled materials, using materials made from within the region as well as proposing innovative design and using durable materials. Applications: Stormwater Design and Management, Heat Island Reduction, Recycling, Regional Manufacturing, Waste Management.
Download DocumentConcrete in Practice No. 38 - Pervious Concrete (2004)
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, 2 pages.
Available for free. Concrete In Practice-Pervious Concrete is a one-page information sheets on important technical topics, written in a non-technical "What, Why and How?" format.
Download DocumentFreeze Thaw Resistance of Pervious Concrete (2004)
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, 17 pages
Available for free. There have been several pervious concrete pavement projects in dry and wet freeze areas demonstrating good field performance over several years. Recommendations for successful performance of pervious concrete pavements under the various freeze-thaw conditions have been provided. There is limited experience of performance of pervious concrete pavements in hard wet freeze areas. Therefore, in such areas utmost care must be taken. Pervious pavements should be placed by an experienced installer and the pavement structure and surrounding details should be designed to accommodate the anticipated water flow and drainage requirements.
Download DocumentNo Pipe Dream: Concrete Serves Water Users Best (2000)
Environmental Council of Concrete Organizations, #EV23, 4 pages
Available for free. Manufactured for endurance. Concrete pipe is the recognized leader in service life among buried pipe products. This four-page bulletin describes why water users are best served by concrete transmission and distribution systems.
Download DocumentNorth Carolina State University Evaluates Permeable Pavements (2006)
David R. Smith, Kelly A. Collins and William F. Hunt, III, Interlocking Concrete Pavement Magazine, November 2006
The Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department at North Carolina State University is taking a second look at permeable pavements at a test site in Kinston, NC. The project evaluates runoff from four types of permeable pavement and asphalt. Preliminary results show substantial runoff volume and peak flow reductions, the verdict is expected to confirm the effectiveness of permeable pavements in water quality improvement.
Download DocumentPervious Concrete Mixtures and Properties (2004)
Portland Cement Association, CT043, 8 pages
Available for free. Pervious concrete is ideally suited as a solution to stormwater management issues with added environmental benefits. The large void content designed into this specialty concrete allows water to pass through rapidly, minimizing runoff and recharging groundwater supplies. Also known as permeable concrete, porous concrete, gap-graded concrete, no-fines concrete, and enhanced porosity concrete, pervious concrete can be used in a wide range of applications, although its primary use is in pavements.
Download DocumentPervious Concrete Pavement: A Win-Win System (2003)
Dan Brown, P.E., Portland Cement Association, CT032, 9 pages
Available for free. Use of Pervious Concrete Pavements Helps Owners and the Environment.
Download DocumentUnderstanding Pervious Concrete (2005)
Dan Huffman, Construction Specifier Institute, December 2005, 9 pages
Available for free. While pervious concrete pavement has been around for more than 20 years, it has only recently garnered much attention due to increasingly stringent stormwater management guidelines that now position the product as a sustainable building material. Pervious concrete provides the potential for environmentally responsible site use and lowered construction costs in projects ranging from a simple sidewalks, driveways and patios, to major pedestrian plazas and full-blown multi-acre parking lots for national commercial big box builders.
Located at External Web SiteChanges In Store (2006)
Wal-Mart showcases green concrete technologies at its store in Texas.
This 4 page article was originally featured in the May 2006 edition of Concrete Producer Magazine, by Hanley Wood. Wal-Mart testing a range of green strategies at this prototype store in McKinney, TX. Along with other green strategies, concrete was used as interior finish flooring, reducing VOC's and maintenance, and pervious pavement in the parking area to improve ground water quality and quantity.
Located at External Web SiteConcrete's Contrubition to Sustainable Development
Concrete is the most widely used building material on earth. It has a 2, 000 year track record ofhelping build the Roman Empire to building today's modern societies. As a result ofits versatility, beauty, strength,·and durability, concrete is used in most types ofconstruction, including homes, buildings, roads, bridges, airports, subways, and water resource structures. And with today's heightened awareness and demandfor sustainable construction, concrete performs well when compared to other building materials. Concrete is a sustainable building material due to its many eco{riendly features. The production ofconcrete is resource efficient and the ingredients require little processing. Most materials for concrete are acquired and manufactured locally which minimizes transportation energy. Concrete building systems combine insulation with high thermal mass and low air infiltration to make homes and buildings more energy efficient. Concrete has a long service life for buildings and transportation infrastructure, thereby increasing the period between reconstruction, repair, and maintenance and the associated environmental impact. Concrete, when used as pavement or exterior cladding, helps minimize the urban heat island effect, thus reducing the energy required to heat and cool our homes and buildings. Concrete incorporates recycled industrial byproducts such as fly ash, slag, and silica fume that helps reduce embodied energy, carbon footprint, and waste.
Located at External Web SiteExpanded Shale, Clay, and Slate Institute
Resource for information on structural lightweight aggregate that can be used in greenroof construction
Located at External Web SiteGreen Roofs for Healthy Cities (2005)
Green Roof Industry Association
Located at External Web SiteGreenroofs Information - Concrete Advantages for Green Roofs (2005)
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
Information source for areas on waterproof concrete for use in greenroofs.
Located at External Web
Industry resource portal for green roofs
Located at External Web SitePavement - Concrete Parking Website
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
This link takes you to the environmental benefits section of, where you can learn about the range of technology to reduce storm water problems and urban heat island effects.
Located at External Web SiteSedimentation of Pervious Concrete Pavement Systems
Pervious concrete pavement systems (PCPS) are a unique and effective means to address important environmental issues and support green, sustainable growth, by capturing stormwater and allowing it to infiltrate into the underlying soil. Sedimentation leading to clogging is a potential problem in serviceability of PCPS.