Announcing their $10 million commitment for the Concrete Sustainability Hub at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, RMC Research & Education Foundation and Portland Cement Association cite the facility’s potential to ease compliance with prospective Environmental Protection Agency regulations
DON MARSH, EDITOR
Announcing their $10 million commitment for the Concrete Sustainability Hub at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (note separate article), RMC Research & Education Foundation and Portland Cement Association cite the facility’s potential to ease compliance with prospective Environmental Protection Agency regulations Û especially ones centered on cement plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
Without commenting on EPA initiatives or action on climate change bills that might follow the push on Capitol Hill for nationalized health care, PCA President Brian McCarthy affirmed how cement and concrete are part of the sustainability solution, whether global warming is a problem or not: The greatest opportunity for the industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may lay in the development of more durable and energy-efficient roads, houses, and buildings.
MIT staff has begun initial Concrete Sustainability Hub research on materials and product life cycles, bringing more credibility to a discussion critical to the industry. As cement and concrete interests seek to improve regulators’ knowledge base, EPA is bringing resources and credibility to other sustainability research. A 10-year investigation of pervious concrete, permeable interlocking concrete, and porous asphalt pavement has commenced at EPA Region 2’s Edison Environmental Center, located in a New Jersey town named for a guy who knew electricity, cement milling, and concrete housing from monolithic pours. The pervious concrete section was placed with ready mixed from Weldon Materials, Westfield, N.J., with the contractor following National Ready Mixed Concrete Association mix design and finishing specifications. The permeable interlocking concrete section consists of ECO Pavers from E.P. Henry Co., Woodbury, N.J., with the installer following Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute specifications.
Runoff from parking lots and driveways is a significant source of water pollution and puts undo stress on our water infrastructure, especially in densely populated urban areas, EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou noted in a late-October announcement of the New Jersey porous pavement investigation. By evaluating different designs and materials, this study will help us develop strategies to lessen the environmental impacts of parking lots across the country and make our communities more sustainable.
The 43,000-sq.-ft. Edison Environmental Center installation is part of a study pinpointing ways to reduce pollution that can run off paved surfaces and improve how water filters back into the ground. EPA will evaluate the effectiveness of each pavement type and companion rain gardens in removing pollutants from stormwater, and how they help water filter back into the ground. The parking lot will be in service to accurately reflect how different pavement types handle traffic and vehicle-related pollution like leaking oil.
EPA’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory, among the Edison Environmental Center occupants, will evaluate the pavements as they relate to stormwater management practices on a national scale. While the installation of such systems has become more prevalent, agency officials contend there is a lack of full-scale, real-world permeable pavement research projects. Leading up to this undertaking, EPA had listed pervious concrete, permeable interlocking concrete and porous asphalt pavements among National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System best management practices.
The Edison specimens’ side-by-side placement, condition monitoring, and measurement of runoff volume and flow rate to subbases will enable EPA to further validate pervious concrete and permeable interlocking concrete pavement value propositions. Permit wise, EPA notes, The results will provide much needed design and performance information to the regulated community to enable better decisions associated with stormwater management programs.