Did you know that using pervious concrete in your next construction project could help you earn LEED certification?

It’s true. The use of pervious concrete can earn points in several categories, most notably the area of Sustainable Sites. We’ll explain how below.But first, a LEED primer.

Photo credit: USGBC

Photo credit: USGBC

The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. In 2000, the U.S. Green Building Council published a series of goals that, when achieved, make a building more sustainable and resource-efficient. Construction products can be LEED-certified at four levels: platinum, gold, silver and certified.

LEED certification contains six main categories in which projects earn points for achieving certain benchmarks: Location & Transportation, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality. Each category is divided into credits that describe the intent, requirements, technologies and strategies for meeting each credit. Those credits are further broken down into individual points.

Something new in LEED v4 was that runoff from precipitation isn’t even referred to as a waste product anymore. Gone is the “stormwater” appellation; it’s now simply referred to as rainwater. (LEED v4.1 is the current version, released in 2018. You can find a great guide to LEED v4.1 credits from the U.S. Green Building Council here.)

“Managing rainwater on-site restores natural hydrologic conditions, reduces the possibility of flooding and creates opportunities for on-site water reuse in applications such as irrigation and landscape features,” according to the USGBC.

In explaining the Sustainable Sites category, the USGBC cites a study from the Washington State Department of Ecology that claims that rainwater runoff from roads, parking lots and other similar features carries around 200,000 barrels of petroleum into the Puget Sound every year — more than half of the total from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

pervious_concrete_work_of_the_Huntington_St_-_test_area_for_the_phosphorous_reduction_project_2.jpgSo, how can pervious concrete help earn you LEED credit?

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association offers some great information on concrete and LEED credits. Here are the highlights:

  • The Site Development―Protect or Restore Habitat credit in the Sustainable Sites category aims to conserve existing natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Using a pervious concrete parking area to store and treat rainwater, thereby eliminating or minimizing land required for detention ponds, helps protect and restore habitat.
  • The Rainwater Management credit in the Sustainable Sites category aims to reduce runoff volume and improve water quality by replicating the natural hydrology and water balance of the site using low-impact development. Because pervious concrete pavement increases infiltration, it can improve the rate, quantity and quality of stormwater runoff.
  • The Outdoor Water Use Reduction credit in the Water Efficiency category requires the reduction of outdoor water consumption through the use of landscape that does not require permanent irrigation or through the use of alternative water sources. Pervious concrete systems and other concrete stormwater management systems, such as culverts and pipes, can be used to capture stormwater for collection into cisterns for irrigation purposes.

There you have it: A brief overview of how using pervious concrete can help earn LEED credits for your project. For more information or to get started, contact the pros at Custom Concrete, who have years of experience installing pervious pavement in Bellingham, throughout Whatcom County and around Northwest Washington.