At UNH, Even The Parking Lots Are Green
By Beth Potier, Media Relations
August 8, 2007
Robert Roseen, director of UNH Stormwater Center, demonstrating water running through the new pervious parking lot by Williamson Hall
New Pervious Concrete Surface Aims to Treat Polluted Stormwater
The first major pervious concrete parking facility in New England is
being installed at UNH this week, replacing the surface of a parking
lot by Williamson Hall. The project is being overseen by researchers
from the UNH Stormwater Center, who plan to study its effectiveness as
a stormwater management tool.
“Pervious concrete lets stormwater drain through the parking lot,
so it can be filtered and scrubbed of pollutants, rather than letting
it pool on the surface, or be collected in detention ponds,” says
Robert Roseen, director of the Stormwater Center. “It’s an
effective, cost-saving solution to stormwater pollution, but no one’s
been sure it can work in our cold New England climate.”
Nonpoint source pollution carried by stormwater is one of the greatest
threats to water quality nationwide. The concept of using pervious concrete
to capture and treat polluted runoff is not a new one, but it has met
resistance in New England due to concern over its performance during
the freeze and thaw of the region’s winters.
With this parking lot, researchers aim to demonstrate that pervious
concrete can work in cold climates. At the same time, they want to provide
communities with a new way to tackle the problem of containing and treating
polluted stormwater runoff by capturing it on-site and treating it naturally.
The research team, led by the Stormwater Center, will look at the pervious
concrete’s performance with regard to treating water quality, reducing
the volume of runoff, and minimizing the need for salting and sanding
in winter. They also will track how well it stands up to wear and tear.
“Parking lots made from impervious pavement typically last 12
to 15 years, while pervious pavement lots can last more than 30 years,” says
Roseen. “The reconstruction of this lot is more costly than repaving,
but over the long term, UNH will see a return on this investment. UNH
Transportation Services understood this from the beginning, and their
commitment has been key to making this technology demonstration happen.”
The Stormwater Center is also working with the Northern New England
Concrete Promotion Association, the Northeast Cement Shippers Association,
and PCI Systems, which has contributed materials and installation costs.
“We’re pleased to play a part in this important project,” said
Jonathan Kuell, executive director of the Northern New England Concrete
Promotion Association. “We’re hopeful that this research
will show municipal officials, engineers and local policymakers that
pervious concrete can help manage stormwater and protect water quality.”
As communities, particularly coastal ones, prepare to meet Phase II
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act next
year, pervious concrete could shape up to be an important tool for improving
stormwater management practices that impair water quality and contribute
to flooding across the coastal U.S.
The UNH Stormwater Center (www.unh.edu/erg/cstev/) is dedicated to the
protection of water resources through effective stormwater management.
The Center operates a first-in-the-nation field research facility, where
scientists test the performance of different stormwater treatment systems
and offer workshops for stormwater managers in New England and beyond.
More than twenty treatment systems have been examined in a side-by-side
comparison, under strictly controlled conditions.
Primary funding and support for the Stormwater Center is provided by
the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology
(CICEET), a partnership of UNH and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). CICEET develops tools for clean water and healthy
coasts nationwide. The center is part of the Environmental Research Group