Friday, September 11, 2009

Building Green one driveway at a time...

There are a lot of new driveways slowly getting built around the city these days. More calls and questions about permeable paving and our ecogrid then ever before. I'm really pleased to see Torontonians are looking at the ecogrid for their driveways. Although we're getting a lot of calls from people who are looking at fixing up their driveways with the e40 - I've been answering more and more questions about alleyway parking areas.
I walk everywhere - don't own a car - which isn't really necessary for me personally in the city of Toronto. It means I get to see a lot of back alleyways, cross a lot of parks, and see things at a walking pace.
And wow do I see a lot of alleyways here in Toronto that are really in need of fixing up. The City of Vancouver really seems to get it .... terrafirm has done a lot of work with CoV. And then Chicago is really making the move too. Hopefully Toronto will get the idea - because to be honest - its much much easier to build a green driveway then to build a green roof.
Usually parking areas in the city are fairly small - and some are terribly neglected. A lot of the houses in my area are 50-90 yrs old. The laneways are about 50 yrs. And most of them are crumbling chunks of pavement, broken asphault and deterioating cement. If they aren't that - they are probably like my landlords: compacted gravel and weeds.

There's a pretty simple solution for most laneways, alleyway parking and parking pads. Dig up the old stuff - excavate it out - put down some fresh gravel, some e40 (or e50) Ecogrid - fill it up with more gravel. It lasts indefinately. Think about that.. eliminate ruts and potholes - and don't worry about it for 20 yrs. Now that's sustainable green living! (plus hey - its 100% recycled materials - and it can be recycled too - not bad!).

Or better yet - look at building a green parking area. Most of the time you only park there at night. The grass has hours of sunlight in the day. It soaks up the rain and gets rid of the mud. Suddenly, that ugly patch of concrete becomes a green spot. Put in one of the new low-mow grasses so you don't have to worry about cutting it as much - and now there are some really sturdy, drought resistant grasses that are tough.

Thats the plan too. Turn the driveways of yesterday into green areas. As far as a company goes, really, its a simple and beautiful idea. Simple to install. Simple design.
It would likely save so very many of the trees too. I've spent most of the past weeks talking to various tree-companies. yay for Arborists! They usually look at our ecogrid - like the e50 - and realize how it works. Smart bunch. I think they have the best grasp of what permeable paving does - and how easy it is. I've been impressed. Maybe its something about the trees and finding a solution that works so well with the ecogrid? I suspect so.
Whenever I walk through the streets and alleys of Toronto - I have become keenly aware of the pools of water. I look at them and see the standing water - or see it slowly finding its way into the drains. Its a shame. That water heading to the stormwater drains could be filtered - it would go through the permeable paving grid - and sink into the soil. The ground would eventually filter it. All those trees would get a bit more water - which is why I guess the arborists get the solution so quickly.

So that's part of my life. The rest of it is making steampunk jewelry - recycling watches, computer parts and whatnot - but the other half is talking about digging up driveways. To be honest I scratch my head on this one... but hey. Its green. So I'm happy.

But to be honest... I love talking to people even after having done 10 yrs of tech support - and this really feels different. I know that when someone commits to replacing their crappy asphault driveway and replacing it with Gravel - or GRASS! - then I feel like the world just got a bit greener. And of course it has.