Pounding the Pavement: Choosing the Best Driveway

What's best for the environment when building a driveway?


| March/April 2005


What’s best for a driveway: concrete, gravel, or pavers? It depends on your soil, landscape, and aesthetic sensibilities, say experts Ron Jones and Sara Gutterman of Green Builder, a national development and consulting firm.

Choose porous materials that permit water to seep into the ground, helping with stormwater management. Impervious surfaces require floodwater to be channeled into gutters, curbs, or other conduits, washing pollutants such as pet waste, fertilizers, and pesticides into local waterways. Porous walks and driveways allow runoff to filter into the soil, where it benefits your garden, lawn, and trees.

ASPHALT AND CONCRETE

Pros:
• Durable, low maintenance, reliable strength
• Cost effective
• Good for high-traffic areas or where people use wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, tricycles.
• There are porous versions made (not suitable for environments where sand may fill surface pores).

Cons:
• Concrete contains a high level of embodied energy; asphalt contains petroleum products.
• Not very permeable; poor for use in storm- water management.
• Create heat islands ­(especially asphalt)
• Reflect harsh sunlight

PAVERS (brick, blocks, natural stone, paver grids)





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