Red Pill or Blue Pill

For some, the 1999 sci- movie The Matrix accurately characterizes a world with two realities. The story is about a giant matrix of interrelated computer programs that creates a machine-based manipulated world; the other world, the real world of humans, is tormented by the machines and forced underground to survive. Their means of entering and leaving the Matrix is via airships that travel through the underground utility chambers packed with sewer pipes. At times the humans disrupt and reprogram Matrix computer codes to survive. Eventually a savior, Neo, emerges to tame out-of-control machines disguised as humans. His biggest revelation is that the Matrix is a fabricated, digital reality. He learns how to operate above and outside it, so that he can eventually defeat the wayward machines.

This dual reality seems to exist in the stormwater management world. The Matrix exhibits itself as soulnumbing impervious pavements like sidewalks, plazas, parking lots and streets, mostly supporting petroleumfueled transportation, mostly computer generated. This reality is that big institutions support such pavement. The reality of the stormwater community, the smaller and less inuential folks who try to reduce stormwater runoff, seems to be slowly nibbling away at the programmed path of the Matrix. This begins with permeable pavement, often energized by runoff regulations, and when deployed, the Matrix programming seems to yield.

This magazine issue demonstrates some evidence. The feature article on permeable interlocking concrete pavement sidewalks and a parking lot in downtown Raleigh, NC, could have gone conventional under the inuence of the Matrix. However, a human intervened and redened the surface, reduced runoff, and increased the possibilities for friendlier urban places. Another Raleigh space is shown in the photo, a green alley between two buildings just blocks from the Governor’s house. Again, someone intervened and reprogrammed this part of the Matrix.

Two other things might reprogram the Matrix: research and specications. These can point it toward the humanizing reality of permeable pavement. An article in this issue notes the ICPI Foundation is supporting permeable pavement research. While research results support the stormwater community, the transportation folks (i.e., local and state DOTs) will only condently embrace permeable pavements for applications beyond lowspeed residential roads when structural testing and design charts for base thicknesses become available. The article notes that research on this is about to start at the University of California at Davis, and this effort is supported by the California concrete paver and cement industries.

Another reprogramming of the Matrix lies with dissemination of experiencetested specications placed into state transportation agency manuals and municipal construction guidelines. The challenge is that each specication is written in the language of each agency with references to their materials and test methods. Each specication requires technical review to minimize transportation agency risks. That’s a lot of specs taking a lot of time to change.

However, the Matrix at its core is a multiplicity of interconnected networks. And like the conclusion of The Matrix trilogy, the ultimate transformation of transportation agencies to permeable pavements will be viral. For now, the stormwater management world and the concrete paver industry are building the programming to make that happen.


Permeable Design Pro

As the demand for permeable pavement increases, designers rely on design tools like Permeable Design Pro to develop structural and hydrologic solutions for permeable interlocking concrete pavements (PICP). The program integrates two areas of civil engineering that typically are separated in training and practice; pavement design and hydrology. Since permeable pavements are designed to infiltrate water into the soil subgrade, they experience greater exposure to saturated soils than conventional pavements. The weakened condition must be considered in designing the base thickness especially when the pavement supports vehicular traffic.

The worst case design situation is when the soil subgrade is saturated for several days over PICP subject to vehicular traffic loads. Permeable Design Pro software allows the user to design for this critical condition by simulating weakened, saturated soils. This helps reduce the risk of rutting from traffic by calculating a thicker subbase layer. The thickness calculations for the subbase layer thickness are based on the AASHTO flexible pavement design method.

Since most slow draining soils that maintain a saturated state are clays, the user can input the soil gradation (sampled from the site), and input this into the software program. The program models soil infiltration (at saturation) and forecasts the number of hours or days required to drain that soil given a rainstorm depth. If the soil drainage is very slow, the user can introduce perforated drain pipes and the program recalculates the time required to completely drain the soil of water, thereby limiting the number or hours the soil is saturated, and rutting risk. This powerful and handy feature is unique to Permeable Design Pro software. It is especially handy since most permeable pavement projects are built on slow-draining, clay soils.

Permeable Design Pro software has many other design features for PICP designs for parking lots and low-speed roads. The features can save designers time and money while greatly reducing risks and providing clients with a cost-effective PICP solution. To learn more about the software, a webinar introducing Permeable Design Pro hosted by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Visit to register. Participants receive a copy of the software program.


Why Specify an ICPI Certified Installer

When developing specifications for the installation of interlocking concrete pavement, it is important to qualify the contractor that will do the work. By specifying that the contractor must have ICPI Certified Installers on site, you can be assured that those certified installers have received training on the latest standards and best practices related to the installation of interlocking concrete pavement as well as having met minimum installation experience requirements. Currently ICPI issues the ICPI Certified Installer certification which may or may not be supplemented with the Commercial Technician and/or PICP Specialist designations. However, given recent changes, it is more important than ever to use the correct terminology when including in a specification.

Over the last year, the ICPI Certified Installer Program has undergone some major changes. The reasons for the changes were to 1) bring the program in line with latest standards for certification within the construction industry and 2) document and streamline the administration of the increasing number of specialized courses being provided by ICPI to interlocking concrete paver installers.

Currently, ICPI is offering three courses as part of the ICPI Installer Development Program.

  1. ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Course (
    This is an Installer level or introductory course. The purpose of the course is to provide a broad foundation of knowledge related to all aspects of the installation of interlocking concrete pavements. This is a two-day classroom based course which is immediately followed by an exam.
  2. ICPI Commercial Paver Technician Course (
    This is a two]day Technician level course. Technician level courses are designed to focus on a single market. The ICPI Commercial Paver Technician Course provides more specific knowledge regarding the use of interlocking concrete pavement in the commercial, industrial, municipal and institutional markets.
  3. ICPI PICP Specialist Course (
    This is a day and a half Specialist level course. Specialist level courses are designed to focus on a single application. This is the most focused training ICPI provides to concrete paver installers. The purpose of the PICP Specialist Course is to provide detailed information regarding the standards and best practices related to the installation of permeable interlocking concrete pavements (PICP).


Although these courses are designed and intended for contractors, design professionals can also benefit from attending. The knowledge gained will enable them to develop better designs and specification because of their understanding of the technology and installation practices used with interlocking concrete pavements.

ICPI recommends that persons (installers, specifiers and hardscape industry personnel) taking the ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Course have one year of installation experience before taking the course, so they can relate to and thereby get the most out of the information presented.

ICPI also recommends that students have completed the ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Course prior to taking the ICPI Commercial Paver Technician Course or the ICPI PICP Specialist Course. To successfully complete any one of these courses, a student is required to attend the specified training, complete the exam and receive a passing grade. After completing a course, ICPI will provide the student with a Record of Completion for that course.

A concrete paver installer who has a Record of Completion for the ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Course can apply to become an ICPI Certified Installer by submitting an Application for Certification. This document details their concrete paver installation experience which must meet or exceed the required minimum. ICPI will then issue the applicant an ICPI Certified Installer document and they will be listed on the ICPI website.

An ICPI Certified Installer can supplement their certification credentials by earning additional designations. The Commercial Paver Technician designation is earned by obtaining the Record of Completion for the ICPI Commercial Paver Technician Course and submitting an experience record which demonstrates that the applicantfs experience meets or exceeds the minimum amount of installation experience required for the designation. Similarly, the PICP Specialist designation is earned by obtaining the Record of Completion for the ICPI PICP Specialist Course and submitting an experience record which demonstrates that the applicantfs experience meets or exceeds the minimum required for the designation. Once a designation is earned, a Certified Installer will be provided with a Statement of Designation. These designations will be indicated in the individualfs record on the ICPI web site.

To remain valid, an ICPI Certified Installer must renew his or her certification every two years by paying a renewal fee and providing documentation showing that they have completed the minimum amount of required continuing education related to the hardscape industry.

It should also be noted that ICPI Certified Installer status is only granted to an individual; certification does not apply to a company.

In the future, ICPI plans to expand the ICPI Installer Development Program by adding additional courses at the Technician and Specialist levels.

When developing specifications for interlocking concrete pavements, make sure the installation contractor is qualified for the job by ensuring that the labor on site includes individuals with one of the following classifications. The different classifications currently available include:

  • ICPI Certified Installer
  • ICPI Certified Installer, with Commercial Technician designation
  • ICPI Certified Installer, with PICP Specialist designation
  • ICPI Certified Installer, with Commercial Technician and PICP Specialist designations


If you are interested in learning more about the ICPI Installer Development Program, please visit


Win-Win Situation

Leaders in the concrete paver industry co-host special event to showcase the benefits of sustainable paving options.

In an effort to advocate increased adoption of permeable pavement solutions by the environmental protection and transportation agencies, EP Henry and ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute) jointly hosted a special event and demonstration for U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) yesterday at the Woolwich Township Municipal Building in Swedesboro, NJ.

Sustainable paving options, such as permeable interlocking concrete pavers manufactured by EP Henry and other ICPI members, allow water to infiltrate into the surface through joints between the interlocking paving units and into a stone base that stores and infiltrates water into the soil. Unlike most paving systems, such as asphalt or concrete with impervious surfaces, environmentally friendly permeable interlocking concrete pavers reduce stormwater runoff, as well as pollution of our waters, and help control flooding.

Permeable pavers can help meet local stormwater regulations, contribute to earning potential LEED® credits, and reduce drainage costs compared to conventional retention ponds. Additionally, permeable pavers are highly attractive, durable, easily repaired, require low maintenance and can withstand heavy vehicles, making them an ideal paving solution for large-scale transportation projects.

“Concrete pavers play an important role in local construction projects and our small business-driven economy,” said Congressman LoBiondo. “In addition to laying the foundation for safe infrastructure and beautiful communities, they are helping to grow our economy while finding innovative ways to help protect our environment. Whether it’s technology to help overcome flood control problems or improving water quality via stormwater filters, it’s a win-win situation.”

Congressman LoBiondo is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The House Committee was instrumental this summer in passing MAP-21, a comprehensive transportation bill that authorizes the expenditure of $105 billion for highway and other transportation construction, research and demonstration projects throughout the United States. MAP-21 is the most important federal legislation influencing transportation policy in America.

Earlier this year, ICPI succeeded in lobbying Congress to include in MAP-21 first-ever permeable pavements provisions conceived by ICPI and offered for consideration on Capitol Hill. The new permeable pavement provisions are intended to help state and local governments—including those in New Jersey—overcome institutional barriers to adoption, so that permeable pavers can be used in projects to help reduce stormwater runoff and flooding.


PICP Fire Truck Demo

It’s a rainy day in Louisville, so the pavement surfaces are already saturated. The nearby asphalt pavement is pooling rain water on the surface, while the newly installed permeable interlocking concrete pavement shows no surface water pooling. To show how permeable pavers aid in water runoff, 1,800 gallons of water was sprayed on the surface by the Louisville Fire Department. The water infiltrated the surface almost immediately. Learn more about Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavement at