Environmental stewardship driving force behind new, unique parking lot

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
Parking lots don't have to be vast expanses of water-shedding, heat- reflecting pavement.

A new 22-vehicle parking lot at Robins incorporates two environmentally friendly concepts intended to reduce water runoff and protect waterways from the drain-off that can come from standard parking lots.

In the new lot, the parking spaces themselves are all grass, with a drainage system constructed underneath to ensure cars can park there in rainy weather without getting stuck, or even muddy. The drainage system includes a bed of large crushed stone topped with a layer of gravel.

The center part of the parking lot is permeable pavement, which, unlike standard parking-lot asphalt, allows water to seep through it and into the drainage system underneath. There, the water goes right into the ground, filtered by the earth and directly recharging aquifers without going into the streets and storm drainage system. That reduces the chances of flooding, said David Noel, a civil engineer in the 778th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Completed in September after two months of construction, the parking lot has been put to a good test with recent heavy rains. "It drained perfectly," Noel said. "I couldn't have asked for better."

The parking lot is located in front of Bldg. 359, the environmental division of the 78th Civil Engineer Group, on Robins Parkway. The parking lot is designed as a display, Noel said. As a practical matter, it would either be all grass or all permeable concrete, but it was built with both so that people could see how both work.

As to whether any more "green" parking lots will be constructed at Robins, Noel said that will be a matter of funding. One drawback is that it is considerably more expensive than a standard parking lot. He estimated that building a standard parking lot the same size would cost about $85,000. The green parking lot cost $221,000.