Most Green Building programs will talk about the permeability of the lot a house is being built on. This is because what happens to the water that falls on your property during a storm has far-ranging effects. If you live near the water – even small streams and bayous – any pollutants (like fertilizer or motor oil) runs off your lot directly into the water, where it can harm delicate ecosystems. In addition, any water that falls on a hardscape (your driveway, sidewalk, and usually your roof) will most likely end up in the storm sewer. In some locations, the storm sewers have been enlarged, at great expense, to handle all that rain. In other locations, towns have not made that large investment and the roads flood.
One way to mitigate some of the rain water that flows into the storm sewers is to increase the permeability of your lot. This means that more of the water that falls on your property stays on your property for longer. When you incorporate features like permeable paving into your site, the water has time to seep into the ground and go through the natural filtration systems that the Earth was designed with before heading to the nearby stream or lake. Permeable paving also allows the water that falls on your lot to water your trees, reduces foundation problems by keeping the ground around your house moist, and is great around pools, where ponding water often creates a slip hazard.
There are many different kinds of permeable paving. Some pavers look just like non-permeable pavers, and some allow a hard surface for driving on while still allowing the grass to grow in between the paving material. There are a wide variety of options, and many companies in Texas who provide permeable paving options. Whatever look you’re going for, be sure to check out permeable paving options. Your trees, lakes, and city water officials will thank you!
GreenHouse Integration provides Green Building & Building Science services to Houston. Caroline performs energy testing of new homes and provides green building expertise to home builders and homeowners who want to build healthy & environmentally-friendly homes. GHI also provides deconstruction and reclaimed materials services to the Houston area. Caroline frequently speaks to audiences, both large and small, about a variety of topics, including Green Building and living sustainably.