When people think of landscape design, they tend to think of rolling lawns and English Tea gardens. These are great, of course, especially for businesses, but many work places don’t have the room to indulge in those sorts of large-scale projects. A restaurant may have only a small front patio or a small strip of sidewalk […]
The driveway that leads up to a business is the aspect of any property that visitors see first. It is what welcomes clients and partners into the organization. This is what greets the employees every day when they get to work. And then there is the walkway that leads up to the front door and the possibility of a patio in an atrium or behind and beside the building. All of these ground coverings make up a large portion of a company’s property. They need to look appealing and they need to last–especially if the owners are wanting to put the property on the market.
The look and the quality of all paved outdoor areas need to be taken into consideration by any business. Pavement cracks and potholes detract from the view. On the other hand, pavement that is made from a quality and environmentally-friendly material that holds up to harsh weather can add significant value to a company’s property. For this reason, many business owners who are planning on adding upgrades to their office should consider repaving their driveway, parking lot, walkway, and/or patio.
When you are paving an area for commercial use, there are various aspects to consider. Cost needs to be broken down. The difficulty of installation should be reviewed. Durability needs to be thought about. All of these factors have to be deliberated on in order to make the best choice. While some individuals want to go with the cheapest price and sacrifice on quality, others would prefer to go with the most fashionable option and forfeit environmental friendliness. But what if there was a paving solution that provided the best of all worlds? Enter porous paving.
What Is Porous Paving?
In short, porous paving is an environmentally-friendly way to pave parking areas, sidewalks, and roads. It lets stormwater through its surface, base, and subbase, all of which are made with sustainable techniques and materials. But porous paving not only reduces runoff, it also filters out any pollutants or hazardous materials as the stormwater seeps through. It’s able to achieve this because while normal paving material is mixed with high amounts of fine sand, porous paving contains very little sand, leaving between 10 and 25 percent of space void. This, in turn, lowers the runoff coefficient to nearly zero.
What Are The Benefits Of Porous Paving?
1. Good For The Environment
There are multiple ways that porous paving is good for the environment. As previously mentioned, the pavement is made with sustainable methods and materials. These factors alone would allow the installer to get LEED Green Building Rating System credits. But additional credits can be earned from other environmental aspects of porous paving.
One such factor is the local heat island effect that porous paving creates. Because the water can filter into the ground, the surrounding area and ground surface temperatures are lowered. When a lighter color of paving is chosen, this lowers temperatures even more. This lower temperature both improves local air quality and the health of surrounding vegetation.
And then there is erosion control. Whether you are remodeling an office in a hillier and mountainous area or in a more arid location, the soil tends to be loose. Porous paving can help with soil retention and erosion prevention.
2. Lowers Costs Over Time
There are several different ways that costs are reduced over time. The first was briefly mentioned above, and that is the lowered temperature. For office buildings, one of the big expenses can be air conditioning. Because of the lighter colored material and the porousness of it, the temperature of the surrounding area will be slightly lower. This, in turn, lowers energy costs for cooling any surrounding buildings.
Another way costs are lowered is through fewer irrigation demands. Many cities and towns have periods of the year when they suffer through heavy amounts of rainfall. Some years are worse than others and sewer systems cannot provide the necessary support. Additionally, the water that falls straight onto soil cannot be absorbed fast enough to provide many benefits. With porous paving, the ground captures the runoff and then slowly filters and cleans it, allowing the water that is eventually collected to be of great use to surrounding areas. This water can also be collected and used during dryer times of the year, meaning a lower need for man-produced irrigation, stormwater management methods, and a reduction in water use.
A final way cost is reduced is through materials used. While the underlying stone bed can be costly, this is generally offset by the reduced need for enhanced irrigation. And when it comes to the actual porous pavement that is used, it costs less per square foot than both asphalt and concrete. It is also significantly less labor-intensive to install than other options. Lastly, the life cycle of porous pavement is long, meaning no to very little money will have to be spent on repairs for many years.
3. Long Lasting
The life-cycle of porous paving is impressive. Due to its strength and durability, it both lasts for years and repairs are few and far between. It is common to see no cracks or potholes in a porous pavement 20 years after it has been installed and heavily used. Additionally, the porousness of the pavement does not wear out either, meaning that after 20 or 30 years there will still be no surface discharge and the water will filter through just as it did when it was installed.
The real reason for this durability is that porous paving is more flexible or rubbery in a sense. The base and sub-base that are used are loose and can move with the soil beneath it as it changes. The top pavement is also not as rigid, meaning that even the heaviest of equipment traveling over it will not harm it. This is exactly why it is so rare to see potholes and cracks in the porous pavement.
This smoothness is very good news for properties that want to provide better-handicapped access. Because potholes and cracks are so rare with porous pavement, it makes it much easier for those in wheelchairs or with walkers to navigate on sidewalks and through parking lots.
4. Good Looking
The final benefit of porous paving is the options you have. The downside of asphalt and concrete is that they offer one look. If you have a unique building, asphalt may not look good with it, whether it is the architecture or the landscaping. Porous paving solves this problem. Porous pavement comes in a variety of styles and colors so that you can find the best look for your parking area or sidewalk. No more of the boring concrete or the smelly asphalt that constantly needs to be repaired. Get the look you want, at the price you want, with all the convenience you can imagine.
The modern idea of a functional workplace no longer revolves around a desk in a large office. Each day, wireless communications become more sophisticated. Younger people, who are more used to these new communications methods, are entering the workforce and employers have a new awareness of how employees work best. These new ideas and innovations make it possible for companies to incorporate nature and the outdoors into a beneficial workplace environment.
Landscaping with Biophilic Design
Many companies are combining the recent trends of biophilia (a human being’s natural affinity for nature) with the landscaping trend of placemaking and recent findings concerning productivity. Placemaking is a recent trend in commercial landscaping. Designers use it to reevaluate unused outdoor spaces and remake them into a practical outdoor space for employees, clients, and customers to relax or do business. This trend partners well with landscaping with biophilic design, which stresses positive interaction with the user’s surroundings.
Working in an alternative space is no longer equated with fooling around. Recent studies have linked it with higher productivity and cost savings for companies. WorkDesign magazine cites a Heschong-Mahone Group study that tracked employee productivity with exposure to nature. Researchers observed call centers where managers placed seats so employees could see outdoor greenery with their peripheral vision. This small change resulted in employees with the view handling calls six to seven percent faster than the group without the view. While it cost money to renovate the office, it ultimately saved the company about $2,999 for each employee because production went up.
Innovative Workplace Trend
As more and more millennials enter the workforce, companies are adjusting to meet their needs and expectations. Because younger employees grew up in a wireless world, companies and municipalities are looking for creative ways to attract them. Blueprint reports that urban areas are increasingly incorporating outdoor office space in communities, not only for freelancers but to add an alternative for professionals who want to meet or work in a professional outdoor setting, rather than a restaurant or a windowless conference room.
A Silver Spring, Maryland project, called The Outbox, has recently been lauded as an innovative way to incorporate outdoor office space into urban life. It is simply a seasonal structure with outlets, a seating area and open walls that allow a clear view of the surrounding area but also provide shade and shelter from any sudden weather issues. This popular destination draws an eclectic mix of different professionals who come together to work and share ideas.
Renovating You Space for Biophilia
If you have an unused outdoor area on your business property, now it the time to consider incorporating a space for working outdoors. Of course, wifi is crucial for an outdoor workspace but there are other needs.
- Consider remaking an unused outdoor area on company property to include any features relative to your employees.
- Shade trees are appealing for a park setting but don’t place seating under them or your best client may end up with bird droppings on her favorite suit.
- Colorful flowers provide a mood lift, so ask your landscaper to fill pots and planters with seasonally blooming plants.
- Ask your landscaping crew to keep greenery closely trimmed so that it does not block walkways or seating, particularly for the handicapped.
- Outdoor furniture should still look professional after being out in the elements for a bit and it should be at the height most comfortable for people working on laptops.
- Plan a structure that can protect employees from the elements. Wind days are a problem if your workplace still uses paper and sunny days create glare on electronic screens.
There are many benefits to landscaping with biophilic design. Renovating your outdoor area to include a place for employees to work is not only good for your current staff but for millennials entering the workforce. Besides creating an appealing space to work in, it will draw in new employees and freelancers who can bring fresh ideas to your company.
Boston may be a metropolitan hub, but if you love to spend time in the great outdoors, there are plenty of local trails and green spaces where you can find your fix. Whether you prefer to pedal, row, or enjoy a leisurely stroll, you’ll reap the benefits of sunshine, fresh air, and improving your cardiovascular fitness. Here are a few of our favorite local places and ways to get outdoors and maintain your healthy lifestyle.
Row Down the Charles River
In the 60s, The Standells sang that they “loved that dirty water” of the Charles River. Nowadays, the river’s been cleaned up and the water has been known to sparkle on sunny days. Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the winding waters and rent a kayak to paddle down the length of the river. Paddle Boston offers kayak rentals, guided sunset tours of the Charles, paddling classes, and more. If you’re feeling daring, why not sign up for one of their Wednesday night races?
Kayaking is a fun way to build upper body and core strength. Maneuvering the paddle over and over makes for a strong back, chest, shoulders, and arms. This is not to mention better coordination and flexibility. It’s a low-impact exercise, so that means less stress on your joints. You’ll also be able to take in the iconic features of the Boston and Cambridge skylines, from the dome of MIT to the gold leaf that tops the State House.
Avid kayakers report that it’s also a good way to reduce stress as you watch the blue-green waters undulate around you under a wide blue sky. And if you join a kayaking club, it’s a way to make new friends as you paddle the waters together.
Get Outdoors and Hike in the Blue Hills
The Blue Hills Reservation is in Milton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. It offers trails for experienced and inexperienced hikers alike, so no matter who you are or what fitness level you’re at, you’ll find a trail here that suits you. No matter what trail you set on, you’re sure to find one that offers rewarding sights of the reservation’s marshlands, meadows, and rolling hills. You might find a stunning view of the city in the distance, or enjoy New England’s famous foliage on a wooded path.
Hiking can be as challenging or as easy as you want it to be, depending on the trail you choose and the pace you set. If you can walk, you can hike. Be sure to bring snacks, water, and wear comfortable sneakers or boots with good traction. Put one foot in front of the other and take the time to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of nature around you.
Hiking offers a slew of physical and mental benefits. It’s a weight-bearing exercise, so it builds strong bones and strong legs. It builds cardiovascular fitness, so it’ll lower your risks of heart disease and high blood pressure. Beyond that, the relative solitude of hiking offers a meditative experience. It gives your mind a break from the stressors of everyday life. Research shows that regular hiking can alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Reconnecting with nature works your body and rests your brain. This is a great reason to get outdoors.
Ride Down the Minuteman Bikeway
If wheels are more your style, it’s time to take yourself on a spin down the Minuteman Bikeway in North Cambridge. This rail trail starts just past Alewife Station on the Red Line. It travels 10 miles on an out-and-back path through Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. It’s paved all the way and popular with runners, walkers, roller skaters, and cyclists alike. Along the way, you’ll pass Spy Pond, Arlington’s Great Meadows, and the Battle Green where the Battle of Lexington and Concord sparked the American Revolution. Keep an eye out and you might reward yourself with sightings of a hawk or songbird in the wooded sections.
What can cycling do for you? For starters, it’ll build stronger legs and lungs and improve your flexibility. Research suggests cycling can alleviate symptoms of knee pain and osteoarthritis, and balancing on two wheels means better coordination as well. When you take your bike out regularly, you’ll enjoy all the mental benefits of cycling as exercise, including higher-quality sleep, reduced stress, and a healthier brain.
These aren’t the only ways to enjoy the great outdoors around Boston. However, they’re a start. All three will lead you on the path towards becoming your best self, physically and mentally. Get outdoors and make the most of what the Boston area has to offer.