A new idea gaining momentum in the green movement is permeable pavement. Permeable pavements allow water and air to flow freely through the pavement, instead of pooling on the surface and creating runoff.
There are three main methods of permeable paving – pavements that are themselves permeable but look like normal asphalt or concrete, impermeable paving stones that have
permeable spaces between them, and “grass pavers.” Grass pavers use a short turf surface on top of stones or gravel to filter runoff while still creating a surface that can be driven on.
Permeable pavements are designed to allow water to flow through the system instead of pooling on the surface, which causes dangerous conditions as well as harmful environmental effects. Permeable pavement can filter out 70-80% of rainwater in a year, which cuts down on erosion and allows for plant growth surrounding the pavement. This can be particularly effective in urban areas, where it is hard to get soil and water to be stable enough to allow tree growth. These pavements also filter the water from oils, heavy metals, and other toxins that would otherwise be washed and accumulated into watersheds.
While permeable pavement has yet to become very common on a large scale, it is becoming more common for private builders and construction to opt for permeable pavement. However, as of now it is a much more expensive option that traditional paving techniques. Permeable pavement is still a step in the right direction though, and maybe someday we can reduce our environmental impact by not only changing what we drive, but what we drive on.