New techniques are coming up everywhere in order to make cities more sustainable and their features more economical. For instance, as told of by the Dirt Blog on the ALSA website, new methods to combat storm water runoff are being implemented everywhere in Philadelphia, even in playgrounds. The post, called Unpaving Philadelphia, describes how impervious surfaces that keep water from soaking into the ground and rather push the water into storm drains can “overwhelm the city’s sewage system,” leading to many adverse affects. However, a solution is available.
To combat the problem, the city has started to rip out the impenetrable surfaces and replace them with soft earth—one playground mentioned is cutting down the schoolyard’s run-off by 80%. The Dirt Blog says this playground is using a method that cuts down 50% of the pavement used, all at the borders, to let the rain soak in naturally from all sides. A system such as this reduces water runoff and reuses the water to hydrate shrubbery that will be at the borders, furthering the environmental cause. Other practices that can be put into place such as using wood fiber (wood chips/bark) in place of concrete or asphalt areas, which will let the rain soak into the ground beneath them.
According to B-sustainable.org, the “built environment, increases the number of roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and rooftops,” all of which have impervious surfaces which make it impossible for water to seep back into the ground. Because schools have a large surface area, including all of the building rooftops and pavement covering the schoolyard, it is more important than ever to incorporate more permeable surfaces because in places like Philadelphia, as stated in the Unpaving Philadelphia blog post, a” stormwater tax” will be implemented in 2010. Eventually, a similar tax could be implemented in California so landscape architects and designers should incorporate runoff sustainability into the design of their new construction projects—not only to prevent financial burdens on their clients, but also to prevent environmental destruction.