River City Green

The Midwest is no stranger to the use of interlocking concrete and permeable pavement solutions for many private, commercial, municipal and educational projects. In particular, municipalities with rivers that overflow seasonally and those receiving polluted stormwater are increasingly deploying permeable interlocking concrete pavements (PICP) for their projects and enjoying the benefits.

In St. Louis, the challenges of an aging combined sewer system and new stormwater requirements mandated in 2006 by the City’s Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) led to the implementation of PICP in alleys, parking lots, sidewalks, trailheads and many other applications. Multiple projects including a series of green alleys constructed since the MSD mandate demonstrated concrete pavers as a trusted solution for many City initiatives, as well as for private projects. While often used to reduce stormwater pollution, the successful performance and aesthetic appeal of concrete pavers in projects across the city has led to their popularity and continued use.

Eco-Installation: Lewis and Clark Community College – National Great Rivers Research and Education Center

At the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center at Lewis and Clark Community College in East Alton, IL, it’s all about green. Established to lead research, education and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers and their communities, being “green” was non-negotiable for the center’s construction. The first of two phases of construction began in 2008 with a field center to drive research and serve as a home base for educational programs.

The project secured a total of $6.8 million in construction funding with an additional $16.3 million designated by former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. From the project’s inception, the goal was obtaining the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED credit-earning components for this project include: sustainable heating and cooling systems; a detention basin for stormwater quality control; plus permeable interlocking concrete pavement, as well as other pervious pavement systems.

The paver portion of the project includes a plaza, sidewalk and main access road totaling more than 25,000 sf of manually and machine-placed pavers, installed in less than one week’s time. Speed of installation was a factor in the project’s success because it quickly opened the roadway (unlike other pavement options that require downtime while curing), thus enabling multiple construction efforts to occur simultaneously.

“The facility is a showplace for green building that incorporates multiple types of green paving systems,” says Dave Godar, P.E. for Sheppard, Morgan & Schwaab, Inc. Material reuse was accomplished by using fly ash in the cast-in-place concrete and in the modified soil road base.

Also, the project had to consider the historic flood levels from the nearby Mississippi river. “We didn’t want permeable pavement where the flood level is, because it could clog,” Mr. Godar says.

The sidewalk portion of the project covers about 875 square yards; another 2,500 square yards makes up the roadway. The system uses 3-1/8 in. thick concrete pavers, 2 in. of bedding aggregate, 4 in. of open-graded aggregate base and 12 in. of larger aggregate subbase over filter fabric or geotextile.

“There are two schools of thought about using filter fabric,” Mr. Godar says. “Some say that over time the filter fabric can become clogged and prevent the rainwater from soaking into the ground. This site had sand material as the subgrade. We opted to go with filter fabric to prevent the underlying sand material from migrating up into the voids of the subbase aggregate, which could cause settlement of the pavers.” 

To reduce labor costs, project design included machine installation for the interior pavers. “It was all kind of new,” Mr. Godar says of the plans created in 2009. “We hadn’t done anything like this before, although there were some examples out there.”

Funding for the project included some federal highway money, which meant all approvals had to go through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Because many of the components were not standard and were not covered by IDOT specifications, some of the materials were considered experimental. The project took most of the 2010 construction season to complete. “The idea was for this to be a showplace,” Mr. Godar says. “It is open to the public, so if we had clients who wanted something similar, we could point them to the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center.”

Health Appeal: Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital


At Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, about 15 miles northwest of St. Louis, permeable pavers satisfied the hospital’s stormwater requirements, providing an overall healthy feel to the campus. Coined a “bridge” hospital, the facility staff works to help children transition between hospital and home. With a history of expansion and growth, the hospital was built in 1941 as the Ranken-Jordan Home for Convalescent Crippled Children. In the 1960s, it expanded to accommodate more patients and staff, and in 2002, moved to a new 62,000 sf, 34-bed facility in Maryland Heights, MO. Several years later, the facility required more parking for patients and visitors.

When the organization first looked into expanding its parking capacity in 2009, stormwater requirements came into play immediately. The facility includes bio-retention basins and rain gardens. PICP met the MSD’s stormwater reduction requirements.

“At the time it was fairly cutting edge,” says Ted Spaid, co-founding principal of SWT Design, based in St. Louis, which led design for the project. “The MSD had just started enacting water quality management regulations for the region.” Rather than using underground stormwater tanks and other solutions, the design team decided on PICP to meet the requirements.

The first of Mr. Spaid’s projects with PICP took place at SWT’s office as an early test run right when the pavers first became available. Having successfully worked with them, SWT decided to use them in the hospital project. The pavers were manually installed between September and October of 2009, but required some special design attention because the parking lot presented a challenge with its radial layout. The designers addressed this by taking advantage of the paver pattern. The contractor installed the entire parking lot in a herringbone pattern, which can accommodate radial layouts, and saw cut the edge pavers to fit the non-uniform shape.

Another unique design element used pavers in contrasting colors to designate parking stalls rather than paint lines on the pavement. “The installation itself was a month-long process,” Mr. Spaid says. But the outcome was several-fold, for the 20,980-sf installation. First, it satisfied required municipal green elements by draining to rain gardens to help with bio-filtration. And while there was additional expense due to the paving materials, the aesthetic appeal was a positive payback.

“Many clients are timid about wanting to spend the extra money on permeable pavers, but then they realize it delivers more than stormwater management. If you can turn stormwater management into a positive aesthetic attribute, it’s much nicer. There are multiple layers of savings by using the pavers correctly and strategically.”

For example, the parking lot design allowed for surface runoff to sheet-flow over the asphalt and infiltrate into the permeable pavers. Eventually, that water would go to a centrally located rain garden or bio-retention area, and would flow to a larger detention basin as needed to prevent downstream flooding.

“This design replaced the need for typical drainage structures and piping system that you would find throughout a parking lot,” Mr. Spaid says. “Based on a cost-benefit analysis, a traditional stormwater infrastructure design was comparable to the cost of the permeable paving system. Furthermore, the permeable pavers provided the required stormwater management to decrease the flow of runoff and help control sediment.”

The pavers and rain garden also decreased the size of the necessary detention basin and preserved land for future expansion. The project is maintained with annual vacuuming and regular cleaning. MSD requires an annual inspection report that includes dates of inspections and cleaning methodology. Additionally, the report must confirm that all stormwater structures are functioning and that watersheds have not been disrupted by pavement clogging or erosion. The report must demonstrate that all best management practices (BMPs) and landscapes are functioning as designed.

In a care setting, particularly one focused on children, the sub-story is aligning construction materials with quality and health, Mr. Spaid says. “It’s a healthy living story,” he says. “Here we are at a pediatric care facility and we want to show quality care for children. Through stormwater management and rain gardens, there’s a story to be told about water quality and creating an environment not only contributing to a healthy planet, but to human well-being and aesthetics.”

Trailhead Series: Great Rivers Greenways


Concrete pavers may be “green,” but they’re not often found in the woods. The Great Rivers Greenway (GRG) District is an exception. The network spans more than 100 miles of trails and greenways among 1,400 acres through St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County that support hiking, biking, walking and other outdoor activities. Established in 2000, the GRG initiative set out to improve health, reduce pollution and stabilize communities, among its many goals.

That’s where PICP comes in. In 2006, the organization extended one of its trails, which involved installing two new trailheads. Given the stormwater restrictions then recently passed by the MSD, the Great Rivers Greenway project managers and designers crafted a proposal for PICP as the surface for the new sites. A handful of other trailheads and parking areas built in the following years also realized the benefits from PICP.

“We considered leaving it asphalt,” recalls Carey Bundy, project manager for GRG. “It would be cheaper on the front end,” she says, “but PICP would count toward water quality credits. We went with pavers mainly because if something did go wrong later, they are much easier to get into and work on.”

Because it spans the city and two counties, funding for GRG projects comes from various sources, including tax dollars and federal grants. GRG resources are used to build and improve the trail network and then projects are turned over to the municipalities for maintenance. Working with pavers required a lot of testing, partnerships on design elements and determining performance requirements that would satisfy the mission of the trails.

The installations were not easy. “The most challenging part is the location and site accessibility,” says Scott Rozier, president of St. Louis-based Rosch Company. “The trails go through the middle of the woods, or across old abandoned tracks, and it’s very challenging logistically to get the subbase installed and place everything where it needs to be.”

In spite of the challenges, GRG found that the PICP systems with additional green elements such as plantable walls and reclaimed water systems have performed well. So well in fact, more projects are in the design and planning stages as a result. “Initially, people said they wanted to go with the traditional route and didn’t want to try this new but different material,” Ms. Bundy says. “But it’s on the ground now in a lot of places. Getting a pilot installed so people can see what it is, that is very helpful.”


Larry Nicolai, Senior VP

Larry Nicolai, Senior VP of Pavers by Ideal, Westford, MA


Where do you see the industry, and ICPI’s role in it, in the next 20 years?

In many ways, we have a long way to go. If you look at the per-capita consumption of North America, you have less than two square feet, and that’s in contrast to Europe, which is more like 10 to 15 square feet per capita. So, there’s a lot of opportunity for growth, that’s for sure. We need to continue to validate the long-term performance of concrete pavers, not only to the design community, but also to the larger buyer who may be thinking about industrial applications.

To get more traction, we’ll need to continue to build on our membership, and keep investing in the type of research that allows us to offer facts supported through studies, instead of refining a sales pitch by a regional producer. ICPI has served an important role in substantiating concrete pavers to the design and engineering communities, and I think the organization’s role will be even greater in the next 20 years.

Part of ICPI’s role is to help members recognize opportunities as well as trends that might be happening. For example, storm water management will continue to be a major topic in the next 20 years and beyond, so we need to build awareness going forward about how permeable pavers can help. ICPI will contribute to this awareness with research as well as regulatory agency work on the local, state, regional, and federal levels. As we face mandates that may be onerous, ICPI will step in to be an advocate for us and for the industry’s future.

In general, we’re all working toward a future where interlocking concrete pavement can be seen as a first choice for projects. We definitely haven’t reached that point yet and maybe we won’t even in 20 years, but who knows? With the level of effort brought by ICPI and the commitment of those in the industry, we could get to that point. I think people in this industry work well together, and work well with ICPI, and I believe the next 20 years will bring us all even more success.

return to the Back to the Future article


LEED v4 Review

Released in November 2013, LEED v4 continues support of segmental concrete paving products to earn credits toward certification as a sustainable project. There are, however, some significant changes under familiar credit categories. The table below lists credit categories and credits that can be supported by using segmental concrete paving products. Detailed information can be found in ICPI Tech Spec 16: Achieving LEED Credits with Segmental Concrete Pavement available at


Credit: Open Space

This credit recognizes designs that use open space to encourage interaction with the environment and other people, as well as passive recreation and physical activities. Segmental concrete pavements can be utilized in the design of such spaces.

Credit: Rainwater Management

Gone are separate points earned for stormwater management quality and quantity. Pollution and volume reduction are now combined into one credit. Credits are earned based on management of the 95th or 98th percentile rain event, or by matching pre-development conditions. Management means on-site detention and/or infiltration, which virtually requires the use of permeable pavements such as permeable interlocking concrete pavements (PICP).

Credit: Urban Heat Island

Requirements continue for roof surfaces having minimum solar reflectance indices (SRI). The minimums have been increased from 29 to 39 and a three-year (aged) minimum of 32 for low-sloped roofs. For non-roof surfaces, minimum requirements for reflectance have changed from an SRI method to a solar reflectance (SR) measurement method based on using a different ASTM test method than that for SRI. SR measures outbound (reflected) radiation divided by inbound radiation, both measured at four specific wavelengths. The initial SR required is 0.33 with a three-year aged minimum of 0.28. This means that SR (as well as SRI) requirements benefit the use of lighter paver colors. Concrete grid pavements continue receiving points so this benefit essentially remains unchanged. The grids need to be at least 50 percent “unbound,” meaning turf grass or light-colored aggregates.

Credit: Water Efficiency

Capturing and reusing runoff for irrigation with PICP or other means no longer earns points. LEED v4 makes this condition a project prerequisite to qualify for participation in their program. If the project has no landscaping, then this requirement is not applied.


The MR structure has a four-pronged approach: life-cycle assessment; toxic chemical avoidance; building reuse; and waste management. This credit category is restructured to address a more holistic, life-cycle view of creation, use and disposal of construction materials, rather than just recognizing recycling as in previous LEED versions. Here are the credits relevant to the concrete paver industry:

Credit: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)

This new credit requires EPDs to be supplied on at least 20 different products in a project and to be cradle-to-gate impact assessments for various pollutants, including carbon emissions and energy use. EPDs can be paver-industry averages typically reported by an association or product-specific EPD reported by a paving product manufacturer.

Credit: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials

Multiple criteria from LEED 2009 credits have been combined into this credit. Some old criteria are folded into other MR credits, such as Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction and Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations. Here are the options under this credit heading:

  • MR Credit Resource Reuse: Materials reused on-site are no longer required to be repurposed.
  • MR Credit Recycled Content: The requirements for recycled content have not changed; however, this criterion is now combined with other criteria in a single option.
  • MR Credit Regional Materials: The 500-mile (800 km) radius requirement was decreased to 100 miles (160 km). The definition of regional has been expanded to include the distribution and purchase location, and now includes all points of manufacture.

Credit: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients

This is a new credit with three options for earning points:

  • Material ingredient reporting: Paver manufacturer reporting of ingredients, reporting via health product declaration or cradle-to-cradle certification.
  • Material ingredient optimization: Manufacturers undergo a “green screen” assessment, a more rigorous cradle-to-gate certification, or certify that products have no substances of “very high concern” according to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program Published by the European Union.
  • Product manufacturer supply chain optimization: Supply chain providers to a concrete paver manufacturer meet certain criteria for environmental, health and safety protection.

Credit: Construction and Demolition Waste Management

This has changed from LEED 2009. Reuse of segmental concrete paving products can be part of a demolition/reuse plan if the paving products are reused or recycled. This is achieved through either 50 or 75 percent diversion of project waste from a landfill. A third option sets a limit on the pounds (2.5) of waste generated per sf of building floor area.

LEED v4 continues credits and points issuance for innovation in projects and credits for participation of a LEED AP in a project who specializes in particular credit areas. In addition, credits can be earned for “regional priorities.” For example, if groundwater aquifer recharge is a regional priority, then points could be earned by using PICP.


LEED v4 Credit Category Total Available Points Maximum Points Using Segmental Concrete Pavement
Sustainable Sites

  • Open Space
  • Rainwater Management
  • Heat Island Reduction
10 1
Water Efficiency

  • Outdoor water use
11 Prerequisite (no points)
Materials & Resources
  • Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations
  • Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials
  • Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients
  • Construction and Demolition Waste Management
  • 13 1




    Innovation 6 6
    Regional Priority 4 4
    LEED Accredited Professional 1 1
    Range of potential points 45 – 50 25 – 30


    2014 HNA Hardscape Project Awards

    The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute with the Brick Industry Association and National Concrete Masonry Association are pleased to announce the 7th Annual HNA Hardscape Project Award winners in recognition of outstanding hardscape projects, including residential walkways, patios, driveways, commercial plazas, parking lots and streets. One hundred entries were judged on project intent, design, quality of construction and craftsmanship, compatibility with related construction materials and systems, construction innovation, detailing and overall design excellence.

    1. Eco-Healing Retreat Center

    • CATEGORY: Combination – Commercial – Less than 20,000 SF
    • LOCATION: Victoria, MN
    • SIZE: 5,500 SF
    • INSTALLER: Mom’s Landscaping & Design, LLC
    • PRODUCTS: Belgard pavers; natural stone from US quarries; local concrete
    • DESIGNER: Becca Bastyr



    The client’s main goal for this project was to pay homage to the 146-acre forested land by incorporating “natural” (stone) products. The project’s objectives: create pleasant walkways (some had to be ADA compliant); increase parking space; and improve drainage. The natural stone retaining walls and paver driveway sweep drainage from the hillside by directing water away from the two upper buildings. Cutting through and down two hillsides increased parking stalls from 4 to 15 using 2,000 sf of concrete with natural stone parking stripes. Dry- and wet-laid walkways of approximately 3,500 sf were installed and multiple retaining walls were built or restored.


    2. Trinity Academy Sports Complex


    • CATEGORY: Combination – Commercial – More than 20,000 SF
    • LOCATION: North Wichita, KS
    • SIZE: 33,600 SF
    • INSTALLER: Elevated Paver Systems
    • PRODUCTS: Pavestone
    • DESIGNER: Elevated Paver Systems



    Segmental retaining walls and concrete pavers were used to create a look similar to ancient coliseums. Elevated Paver Systems (EPS) designed and constructed the stadium portion of the project, a unique opportunity for the design to be based on a contractor’s perspective. The result was a segmental project with little field fabrication required. To efficiently construct the project and minimize excess excavation, EPS coordinated with the civil contractor to sequentially build the area below and behind the seating area as each seat wall was built.


    3. Savageau Residence


    • CATEGORY: Combination – Residential – Less than 4,000 SF
    • LOCATION: Omaha, NE
    • SIZE: 3,000 SF
    • INSTALLER: Paver Designs LLC
    • PRODUCTS: Pavestone/
    • Earthworks, Techniseal NuLook
    • DESIGNER: Jim and Justin Hampton



    Paver Designs LLC developed a renovation plan for a patio and pool deck, a deteriorated mishmash of stamped concrete, old concrete pavers, clay pavers and a rotting cedar tie wall. The plan included a water/fire feature flowing into the pool, a grill/bar island, stone fireplace and a fire boulder. Planters were cut into the walls to create character and soften the hardscape, and a flowing inlay design connected the patio nook area to the pool deck. A sealer was used to differentiate colors for the inlay. LED uplights highlight the walls and fire features.


    4. Wayne Pool


    • CATEGORY: Combination – Residential – More than 4,000 SF
    • LOCATION: Wayne, NJ
    • SIZE: 4,200 SF
    • INSTALLER: Monello Landscape Industries
    • PRODUCTS: Techo-Bloc
    • DESIGNER: Joe Monello



    Design elements and features include six multi-level paver patios, three permeable paver patios and a sunken pool bar and kitchen with seating inside and outside the pool. The project also includes a 20-ft double waterfall, three built-in bistro tables, a 20-ft high boulder wall system featuring perennial garden plants and floating boulders built into the pool. Trenching was so extensive under and around the hardscape areas that 1,500 cubic yards of soil had to be removed and replaced with compacted clean stone so there was no threat of future settlement.


    5. Nemours Auto Court


    • CATEGORY: Concrete Paver – Commercial – Less than 15,000 SF
    • LOCATION:  Wilmington, DE
    • SIZE: 7,200 SF
    • INSTALLER: Pickering Valley Landscape Inc.
    • PRODUCTS: Hanover Architectural Products Inc.
    • DESIGNER: Oasis Design Group



    A bituminous-set paver cross section was chosen for the parking area with a reinforced concrete base. The three colors selected for the concrete pavers were Super Black, Limestone Gray and a Matrix with black, gray and white aggregate. The paver surface is a sandblasted Tudor finish. Parking spots are a 45-degree herringbone pattern with Limestone Gray and Super Black while the drive-through area is a 60/20/20 ratio of Matrix, Gray and Black. The two paver fields are separated by a 20-in. wide soldier-sailor-soldier band of Super Black and Matrix.


    6. Alfa External Paving


    • CATEGORY: Concrete Paver – Commercial – More than 15,000 SF
    • LOCATION: Jumairah Village Circle, Dubai, UAE
    • SIZE: 21,500 SF
    • INSTALLER: DUCON Industries FZCO
    • PRODUCTS: DUCON Industries FZCO
    • DESIGNER: DUCON Industries FZCO



    The location of this driveway and parking lot project is developing into a newly established city. In order for the property to be rented, a paver design project was initiated to complement the building and add practical value. The project achieved these requirements with a pathway that reflects the building theme and logo. The logo spans 15 meters in diameter, the largest done by DUCON. The details of the logo and the associated font were achieved with high accuracy as the complete job was done in-house.


    7. Sierra Nevada


    Brewing Company

    • CATEGORY: Concrete Paver – Permeable – Commercial
    • LOCATION: Fletcher, NC
    • SIZE: 147,000 SF
    • INSTALLER: Rivertop Contracting, Inc.
    • PRODUCTS: Belgard
    • DESIGNER: Glen Walters and Drake Fowler, Design Workshop, Asheville, NC



    The client emphasized “green” practices, including a 147,000-sf permeable paver system in the parking area. The chosen paver withstands heavy vehicular traffic, has a favorable reduction in water runoff and meets ADA requirements. Colors include Ardennes Grey, Slate Grey, Westerwood Blend and Limestone for LEED certification. A variety of shapes and the untumbled texture are complemented by a 90-degree herringbone pattern.


    8. Permeable Paradise


    • CATEGORY: Concrete Paver – Permeable – Residential
    • LOCATION: Grand Island, NE
    • SIZE: 4,300 SF
    • INSTALLER: Grindstone Hardscapes
    • PRODUCTS: Belgard
    • DESIGNER: Grindstone Team



    The goal of this new driveway, patio and front entrance project was to create a maintenance-free system with extreme curb appeal. The entire project is permeable and heated to melt snow. The paver field was laid at a 45-degree angle to the house, a solution to the challenge of the road not being square to any entrance on the driveway or walk. Snow and sleet drain through the joints upon touching the heated paver surface. The heat tapes were fastened to wire mesh on top of the rock base to hold it in place, and then the bedding layer was screeded over it.


    9. A Slice Of Paradise


    • CATEGORY: Concrete Paver – Residential – Less than 3,000 SF
    • LOCATION: Strongsville, OH
    • SIZE: 2,700 SF
    • INSTALLER: Rock Bottom Lawn & Landscaping
    • PRODUCTS: Unilock
    • DESIGNER: David Hemme



    The homeowner requested an area for hosting large parties without feeling crowded. The separate design elements allow for more intimate gatherings within the overall project and include a partially covered outdoor kitchen/bar, large dining area, covered pavilion and fireplace patio, in-ground swimming pool with accompanying pool deck and a raised gas fire pit patio bordered by a curved seat wall. Large pavers were chosen to fit the grand scale and style of the project, but also create a smooth surface along the pool deck.


    10. Reno’s Circular Whirlwind


    • CATEGORY: Concrete Paver – Residential – More than 3,000 SF
    • LOCATION: Reno, NV
    • SIZE: 3,600 SF
    • INSTALLER: Hain Enterprises
    • PRODUCTS: Basalite Concrete Products
    • DESIGNER: Mark Hain



    A homeowner challenged his contractor to design a patio environment incorporating as many circles as possible and create a unique visual experience. The contractor designed one-of-a-kind patios, walls and planting areas utilizing concrete paver circle kits. Among many challenges was how to continue the arc of the varying circles’ sizes through the connecting pathways. To accomplish this, the contractor installed only curvilinear courses of pavers that appear to run off the pathways and rejoin later. In total, 14 paver circle kits were used and approximately 3,600 sf of pavement.


    Honorable Mentions



    Back to the Future

    For the past 20 years, this magazine reported on new and innovative projects constructed with all types of segmental concrete paving products. In addition, it reports on new ICPI resources for design professionals and contractors. The magazine doesn’t spend much time discussing ICPI itself. While we take every opportunity to note in project articles when ICPI members were involved, we avoid touting ICPI’s events and accomplishments as an organization.

    Along somewhat different lines, we asked some ICPI members to reflect on ICPI’s 20th anniversary this year, briefly assessing the overall trajectory and value of the organization’s research, advocacy, and technical support of the industry. Looking back, they lend insight on ICPI’s past contributions and offer a glimpse of the future.

    As ICPI drives forward into the next 20 years, it will be with two hands firmly on the steering wheel. We’re not interested in patting ourselves on the back while driving—that’s just dangerous. The future is here and a challenging road is ahead.

    David Quinn   Dave Hein
    Ed Fioroni   Chuck Taylor
    Larry Nicolai