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Grasscrete®
Grasscrete©

These are some of the reasons why we like Grasscrete®.

1) Grasscrete® can make for a fantastic alternative to traditional municipal stormwater management.

In urban areas, stormwater management system usually involves collecting and disposing stormwater as efficiently and quickly as possible. Once “run-off” is generated by sidewalks, streets and parking lots, it is immediately conveyed to storm sewers and then to discharge points. When there is a major storm event, large volumes of water get funneled out in a relatively short amount of time.

In non-urbanized areas such as woodlands and farmlands, however, there are three ways for the water to drain off the land: (a) by simply flowing out on the surface; (b) by infiltrating the soil and seeping into the groundwater; and (c) through evapotranspiration. During a similar major storm event, what doesn't get sucked in and evapotranspirated by the vegetation takes its sweet good time leaving.

To simplify things a bit here, let's take an empty flowerpot. It's our metaphorical city--all hardscapes, all impervious surfaces. Pour a bottle of water into it, and the water drains in a torrent in seconds flat, making a watery mess on your table and floor. If the table and floor are metaphorically your downstream neighbors, then they would all have drowned.

Pour the same amount into a pot with soil and plants, and the water will trickle out over a longer period of time. There might still be a watery mess, but that will be manageable.

What makes Grasscrete® a fantastic alternative, then, is that it mimics the condition of the second scenario. It decreases the amount of surface area taken up by hard paving as well as the area of land served by storm sewers.

But most importantly, it can mitigate the destructive force of floods.


2) Grasscrete® can save lives.

See the last sentence in #1.


3) Grasscrete® can save you money.

See the last sentence in #1.


4) Grasscrete® can save you lots and lots and lots of money.

Most new developments require extending sewer lines beyond their current limit. This obviously costs money. And maintaining it again costs money. But by allowing stormwater to seep into the ground, Grasscrete® may preclude the need for new drains and detentions. If sewers are built nonetheless, Grasscrete® can theoretically divert all the rainwater away from the sewers, thus reducing wear and tear and minimizing maintenance cost.

Moreover, with less severe floods, levees and other flood protection may no longer be needed while existing ones would require less repairs.

In some major metropolitan areas, such as Chicago, billions and billions (and billions) of dollars have been spent to construct huge underground tunnels to temporarily store stormwater. There are still neighborhoods in Chicago that flood, even after mild thunderstorms. Perhaps a less monumental, less costly system should have been considered.


5) Grasscrete® can reduce pollution and improve water quality.

Roofs and streets are full of shit, literally. Rainwater that may or may not already be corrosively acidic will surely turn toxic the minute it hits pavement.

And where does the water end up? In our rivers, lakes and drinking water.

Since Grasscrete® has a vegetated void that can be planted with hardy phytoremediating grasses rather than the standards, it may filter out some of the pollutants.

Of course, for these phytoremediating grasses to clean the run-off, the water needs to sit still for a bit, something that you don't want on the streets. In which case, super-phytoremediating transgenic grasses will be used instead.


6) Grasscrete® can improve the quality of life.

See #1-#5.

Additionally, not only is it aesthetically beautiful, or at least less of a strain on the eyes than huge swats of Wal-Mart asphalt, the reintroduction of vegetation into former concrete jungles should counteract the urban heat island effect.


7) Grasscrete® looks utterly vampiric. Landscape on a rampage, sucking the concrete out of buildings, highways and dams. It's the anti-Architecture kudzu reigning supreme in the Edenic Apocalypse.

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Biopaver by Joseph Hagerman
19 COMMENTS —
  • Silus Grok
  • September 22, 2007 at 1:21:00 AM CDT
  • But it's so ugly...

    And I grew-up in a town that used this stuff all over the place: it's hard to maintain and the grass dies.

    This is good thinking... but bad execution.

    Sorry.


  • Alexander Trevi
  • September 22, 2007 at 1:38:00 AM CDT
  • Then they need to plant a transgenic species that's hardier, grows short so no mowing needed, drought resistant, as fluffy as a kitten and as verdantly green as possible.

    It's all about the vegetation, I suppose.


  • Silus Grok
  • September 22, 2007 at 1:47:00 AM CDT
  • That's part of it... but for me, it will probably always be about the strange combination of concrete and greenery — a combination that is hard to make look like anything short of a weedy accident.


  • fakeisthenewreal
  • September 22, 2007 at 8:50:00 AM CDT
  • Reason #7 made me crack up, and it's 9:45 on a Saturday morning, so that's a good thing. Go Grasscrete.


  • Alexander Trevi
  • September 22, 2007 at 12:46:00 PM CDT
  • fake: When Pruned goes on an extended hiatus, I may take a stab at a career in stand-up comedy and base all my material on "hydrologically naturalized municipal stormwater management system".

    And Silus: There are lots of landscaping company who specializes on turf. In fact, one such company is featured in this month's Landscape Architecture Magazine. So perhaps it won't be hard trying to find one who can do a proper job with the planting. And I see where you're coming from. Excuted poorly, and the landscape can look unattractively weedy, like a middle aged guy desperately clinging to that one hairy spot. But then again I don't have any problems with weedy accidents.


  • Silus Grok
  • September 23, 2007 at 11:29:00 PM CDT
  • Hehe.


  • Anonymous
  • September 24, 2007 at 6:56:00 PM CDT
  • grass isnt cool. It gets cut too short so it cannot produce oxygen, it only consumes it. It requires maintenance, pesticides, fertilizers. look at the poor chump who has to mow it with a mower on a rope. his life could be spent doing something so much more meaningful. It sounds hghly fantastical, but it would be nice if we could naturalize our natural systems, and quit trying to engineer them. I suppose I should continue dreaming.


  • Anonymous
  • October 5, 2007 at 4:13:00 AM CDT
  • It doesn't feel nice underfoot and it makes environments look faker than they already are. I worked in an Ando building which used the stuff. But as you pointed out, it's a hell of a lot better than massive sewer pipes. I say there are places for it and there are places which could do without it. Your first six points addressed its technical properties, the last its urban properties. So for my money we should use it in culverts, but not to replace paving.


  • Anonymous
  • October 19, 2007 at 8:56:00 PM CDT
  • Permeable pavings are a useful method to manage stormwater. There are many systems for permeable paving, surface stabilization and permeable subsurface water storage, each with their own pros and cons.

    Not to suggest one manufacturer over another, but to keep things brief, here is one link to a variety of products:

    http://www.invisiblestructures.com/


  • Anonymous
  • October 29, 2007 at 8:26:00 PM CDT
  • I have to second the nomination for the Grasspave product over Grasscrete. Concrete is also another source of C02 and it has the undesirable characteristic of wicking water away from the grass, into the concrete, which is the main reason why the grass often dies. Grasspave, on the other hand, is made from recycled milk bottles. The little rings of the mat pretty much disappear and the water stays in the soil. No engineered system like this is going to be perfect, but as permeable paving goes, this one is pretty darn good.


  • bobh
  • November 23, 2007 at 10:47:00 AM CST
  • And this guy's not even on the payroll..

    Don't confuse pre-cast concrete or plastic systems with Grasscrete, neither will give you long term durability and performance under regular use. How do I know?..we make and sell them as well. Complaints about concrete systems usually relate to pre-cast blocks that settle under load and lose soil under vibration.

    Grasscrete's not hard to maintain, it's ridiculously easy infact. In return it helps to maintain a natural balance that can help to reduce the incidence of flooding etc etc.

    Bob Howden
    Managing Director
    Grass Concrete Limited


  • Terry Grimble
  • November 28, 2007 at 6:27:00 PM CST
  • The robustness of Grasscrete has not been discussed here. This is the primary difference between concrete and plastic or other products that rely on the root structure of the grass or the type and condition of the soils beneath them for their performance.

    The C02 emissions from the production of portland cement is far offset by the durabiity of the final product - especially if you replace a large portion of cement with a recycled material such as fly ash or granulated blast slag.

    It is all about lifecycle - 2000 year old concrete structures prove out that Grasscrete is sustainable. We look so often at the short term or near future and do not look at lifecycle costs or sustainability. Terrazzo flooring costs more than carpet to install initially but carpet has to be replaced in a commercial setting an average of once every 5 to 10 years while some terrazzo installations have survived for centuries.

    The idea that you install a cheap product made from plastic (which by the way is an oil derived material) that performs adequately for the short term but fails to perform over a long period time is why we have the carbon emission's mess in the first place. It takes carbon producing energy to produce the oil, transport the oil, refine the oil, to transport the plastic beads, to heat the beads to moldable state, to transport the plastic product, and to install the plastic product. Then one has to remove the plastic once it has been compromised by a heavy truck or plow and on and on the cycle goes. Break the cycle of cheap throwaway products and install a robust product if you want to make a difference in this world.


  • Anonymous
  • December 1, 2007 at 5:07:00 PM CST
  • Actually, Grasspave is rated at a higher load capacity (5270 psi, http://www.invisiblestructures.com/GP2/GP2Compared.htm) than Grasscrete (3000 psi, http://www.concretenetwork.com/grasscrete/construction-details.html). Also, Grasspave is 100% recycled plastic- petroleum based yes, but relying on material already in the waste stream. Fly-ash in the Grasscrete mixture would be perhaps 80% at best and relies on recycling from an even worse source than petroleum- the burning of coal. The warranties on both products would seem to suggest that both are durable- there is plastic pipe that has been in the ground for 40 years.


  • Terry Grimble
  • December 10, 2007 at 3:36:00 PM CST
  • You have to love marketing. 5720 PSI is 205,920 pounds per tire based on a standard 36 square inches per tire found on a firetruck as an example. The entire truck may only weigh 75,000 pounds and have 10+ tires or require a whopping 208 psi product to support it. Concrete can be ordered from your local ready mix company in the 8,000 psi plus range the same day you need it. High performance concrete used for bridge decks,high rise structures and the like is regularly 12,000 psi. Big deal.

    The ability to carry load is far more important than the compressive value of the product. In general terms if something is thin and hard does it carry weight better or worse than something that is thick and hard? They carry weight the same - provided that the product supporting them is hard. If it is not such as soil, then what happens? The thinner product that can not spread the load over a greater distance fails as it is displaced into the soil while the thicker product does not. If thin and hard where the answer then why would we pour 12" of concrete for our freeways? Seems like money foolishly spent if you could pour it 1" thick and get the same load bearing capacity and durability. You can't which is why we don't.

    As to flyash be aware that the vast majority of flyash in this country currently sits in landfills. Yes it produced by the burning of coal which how we get the majority of our electricity in the country. I do not advocate that we burn coal to gain a source for a cement replacement, I advocate we take a product currently going into landfill and use it as a cement replacement. The only energy consumed in the use of flyash is hauling to the ready mix plant.

    www.bomanite.com has more information on Grasscrete as well as comparative information with products such as those manufactured by invisible structures.


  • Mike Giguere
  • December 17, 2007 at 6:17:00 PM CST
  • Hey Terry! E-mail me (mgiguere37@yahoo.com)

    Mike


  • Chris West
  • April 23, 2009 at 6:31:00 PM CDT
  • Grasscrete is by far the best solution for Fire Truck Access and Heavy Duty Urban Drainage. Please check out our page for yourself: http://www.clubbgrading.com/grasscrete.html

    Regards,

    Chris West
    Clubb Grading|Grasscrete
    http://www.clubbgrading.com


  • Chris West
  • April 23, 2009 at 11:01:00 PM CDT
  • I noticed the link is not a link:

    Grasscrete|Clubb GradingPlease, if you need any info about Grasscrete, we are more than happy to inform you.

    Best Regards,

    Chris West


  • Concrete artist
  • May 3, 2009 at 4:43:00 PM CDT
  • This is a great innovation and can be used in many concrete applications making it a truly viable product that solves problems instead of creates them.


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