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The Problem with Stormwater & Innovative Permeable Solutions

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The problem with stormwater is that it has to have somewhere to go, ideally back into the ground. Over the past few decades, permeable paver systems have risen in prominence as a sustainable solution to the pressing problem of excess stormwater. In contrast to impervious surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, and highways, which dominate modern urban landscapes, permeable pavers offer a more environmentally friendly alternative by allowing rainwater to be absorbed back into the ground. This reduces the amount of runoff that flows into storm drains, which could otherwise pose risks to both local waterways and public health.

Some communities use separate systems for sewage and stormwater, however, older urban communities use combined sewer systems that allow for overflow from the two inputs that release directly into local rivers and coastal waters when the system is overloaded. This allows for millions of gallons of raw waste and other pollutants are able to flow into the waters where we swim, fish, and boat, and that may also serve as sources of drinking water. Storm frequencies, intensities and duration are shifting and, in many regions, more severe storms occur more frequently than expected. Increased rainfall and snowfall will place increased demands on stormwater sewer and flood control systems, so it is vital to employ systems that can manage these weather events, filter out pollutants and reduce runoff.


The Evolution and Innovation of Permeable Pavers

In 1991, Unilock paved the way by introducing the first permeable paver to North America in the form of the Eco-Stone®. Since then, we have continued to lead the charge, with the broadest selection of permeable pavers on the market. Our extensive involvement in permeable pavements and long-standing international alliances have allowed us to gain valuable knowledge, experience and best practices that we can share with clients to help ensure their projects are a success. Here are just a few standout permeable pavers we have introduced over the years:

  • 2006 – Eco-Optiloc™: A rectilinear multi-stone shape that can be machine installed at a rate of 8,000 sq. ft. per day. It has dual-axis engineering that is able to withstand heavy-duty vehicular loads and offers a 7.3% void space.
  • 2008 – Eco-Priora™: Available in a rectangular shape and can be customized with a variety of surface textures and colors. It has 3mm micro-bevel edges for ADA compliance and offers a 7% void space.
  • 2011 – Hex / City Park Paver™A hexagonal shape that is appropriate for vehicular or pedestrian applications and offers a 4.3% void space.
  • 2012 – Town Hall®: Reala™ surface texture technology is combined with Ultima™ concrete technology to replicate North American clay street pavers while providing superior strength. This permeable paver offers a 6.5% void space.
  • 2013 – Eco-Line®: A bundle of 8 long, linear shapes that can be mechanically installed at a rate of 6,000-7,000 sq.ft. per day. This permeable paver is appropriate of heavy-duty applications and offers a 5.8% void space.
  • 2014 – Eco-Promenade®: This popular plank paver shape is perfect for pedestrian and vehicular applications. It is available in a variety of surface textures and colors and offers a 9.3% void space.
  • 2017 – Tribeca Cobble™: Modelled after natural granite cobbles, Tribeca Cobble can be installed in vehicular or pedestrian application and offers a 5.6% void space.

If you are interested in receiving samples of any of these products, submit a request here.


Reducing Runoff and Enhancing Urban Design with Permeable Pavers

The Fuse Condominium project in Cambridge, MA, set out to create a new residential community in a very walkable neighborhood, close to major highways and public transportation. However, its location next to the Alewife Brook Reservation, a designated wetland, created unique challenges.

The project called for three distinct paver applications: one at ground level and two roof deck amenity spaces. Water needed to be managed at all three applications in order to reduce runoff to the neighboring wetland. The amenity courtyards and open spaces at ground level in this residential community were designed to provide an ideal setting for a high quality of life, with vibrant colors and patterns created using special-order Unilock Eco-Priora™ pavers. These pavers were also utilized on a roof deck, creating patios and dining areas for mid-sized groups with intimate spaces nestled into the edges of a large central lawn, all installed on a granular base. Larger scale, 2’x2’ Skyline™ slabs were installed on pedestals to create a pool surround, lounging and dining areas on the second roof deck space. Both permeable roof decks reduce stormwater runoff, and the lighter colors chosen, along with plant life, help reduce heat island effect.


With our commitment to innovation, quality, and sustainability, we offer high-quality permeable pavers that are designed to enhance the beauty and functionality of any outdoor space. If you wish to learn more about the extensive line of permeable paver products available in your market, connect with a local Unilock representative.




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