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Clay pavers create walkways to success at High Point University

March 25, 2016

Spring is blooming in central North Carolina, on city street, country road and college campus alike.

HPU EHigh Point University isn’t far from the Pine Hall Brick Company corporate headquarters in Winston-Salem. As this semester winds down and as graduation plans blossom, this place is awash in purple blooms everywhere you look.

HPU FHere, students walk to class amidst red brick buildings that were designed with Georgian architecture influences. There are wide paths and plazas made of clay pavers in colors and textures that complement the buildings. There are 24 separate gardens and an arboretum. The campus is home to 2,500 different kinds of plants and 350 separate kinds of trees.

Others have taken notice: High Point University was recently named as a Tree Campus USA for the seventh consecutive year, one of eight four-year colleges and universities in North Carolina to earn this honor.

Now consider this. Much of this is new. More is on the way. And all of it is intentional.

“Visitors to HPU often remark that campus feels entrepreneurial or innovative,” says Dr. Nido Qubein, president of High Point University. “There’s no doubt that the campus spirit is energetic, engaging and poised to ignite purposeful action. The inspiring environment at HPU is designed, at its core, to encourage students to connect, create and collaborate.”

High Point University’s campus – its gardens, its landscapes, its classroom buildings and its operations—reflects a philosophy and a design that is intentional and proactive at the same time.

The idea? Success has a lot to do with your surroundings and High Point University takes an active role in the success of its students.

“People rise to the level of the environment in which they live,” says Qubein. “Whether students are in class, in their residence hall, on the Kester International Promenade that’s lined with inspirational quotes and sculptures of historical figures, or in one of the library learning common spaces throughout campus, students are consistently surrounded by excellence. They are engaged in every aspect of campus life.”

Much of the environment where students at High Point University live, work and play is made up of new plazas, walkways and buildings, all made of native North Carolina clay, as solid and as durable as the values inherent in the educational process that takes place there.

Recent growth

The college began in the 1920s. By 2005, the university was centered on a 92-acre landlocked campus with a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,450, an operating budget of $38 million and 108 faculty members. Things have changed. Since then:

  • Campus size has increased 346 percent, from 92 acres to 410 acres, with building space increasing by 441 percent, from 740,000 to 4 million square feet.
  • Traditional student enrollment is up by 203 percent, from 1,450 to 4,400, while fulltime faculty has increased by 156 percent, from 108 to 277.
  • The budget has increased by 663 percent, from $38 million to $290 million.

Intentional and proactive

Steve Potter, who is vice president for facilities and auxiliary operations, says that two projects – the Promenade and the Student Success Building – are both examples of efforts to directly address the idea of encouraging success through landscaping and hardscaping design.

The Promenade was originally a High Point city street, Montlieu Avenue. In its original incarnation, four sidewalks ran the length of it, an airport runway of sorts to academic buildings.

“We redesigned the whole space so that it wasn’t so linear and it created a park atmosphere,” says Potter. “We kept two linear elements going down it. We really wanted to beautify the space using clay pavers instead of concrete.”

The clay pavers specified were English Edge Full Range and the buildings were built of HPU Blend, a custom color. Both were made by Pine Hall Brick Company.

“It’s more of a cleaner look than you have with concrete,” says Potter. “It is richer, a more sophisticated look. It’s a traditional color but we have been using different fields for different seating areas which is something we haven’t done in the past.”

Upcoming will be new facilities for health sciences, which will house new graduate programs for physician assistants and pharmacists. Like the rest of the campus, the buildings are planned with Georgian architecture in mind and will be built of HPU Blend red brick, with clay paver pathways of the same material.

“We are looking to create an inspiring environment for our students,” says Potter. “It’s not just about the brick and the landscaping and the arboretum, it is about pulling all of that together. We want them to strive for the best and so that’s why we put in the best. We want to use authentic products, to be the best in everything we do and we feel like these are the best products for the results we want.”


Historic brick maker’s home is now a hotel

February 19, 2016

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For Ridgely Dubel, the red-brick Colonial Revival house that she and her husband spotted in their neighborhood in Asheville, NC  was love at first sight.

As long-time fans of all things made of North Carolina clay brick, we can certainly see what she means.

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The Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times reported recently that the couple bought the century-old house and decided to share it. It was turned it into a boutique hotel. Inside, exposed brick walls and polished wood floors are the backdrop to a relaxing stay. Outside,walkways and a large brick patio made of Pine Hall Brick Company pavers picks up the accent colors and textures from the house itself. Tables and chairs surround a large wood-burning fireplace made of stone – a gathering place fit for a chilly evening in western North Carolina.

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As interesting as the Bunn House is these days, the way it began is interesting in and of itself. Albert Bunn, who with his wife and three children immigrated from England,  was a brick maker. Bunn not only built the house in 1905, he made the bricks from which the house was built.

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And as brick makers ourselves, we are proud and honored to add our modern-day clay pavers to Mr. Bunn’s efforts from so long ago.

That’s because our bricks will still be there in 100 years, the same way his are.

Read more about the Bunn House here.

StormPave used in Cleveland riverfront renovation

January 22, 2016

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Cleveland has been called the Comeback City for good reason.

These days, the town is becoming known more for such things as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Clinic and a municipal vision that sees economic development of the inner city and improvement of local education as priorities. Even local legend LeBron James is now back with the Cavaliers.

Now take a look at the latest Cleveland comeback: the Flats East Bank development.

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The Flats, an expansive warehouse district on the Cuyahoga riverfront, is now the site of $750 million in development, including an 18-story office tower, a hotel, a fitness club and local restaurants. In fall 2015, Phase II opened with a 241-unit high-end apartment building, restaurants, entertainment venues and an extensive boardwalk along the river.

Jeremy Hinte, RLA, designer of the Cleveland-based landscape architecture firm Behnke Associates, says that StormPave® permeable clay pavers from Pine Hall Brick Company were chosen to address stormwater management requirements within the Phase II part of the Flats East Bank project.

Many cities–large and small–are requiring new commercial developments to treat their stormwater on site, rather than tying into overtaxed storm drains or, as in the case of Cleveland and Chicago, allowing stormwater to discharge pollutants into a nearby river.

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StormPave® pavers have nibs to create space in between the pavers. In a best-practices installation, rainwater enters the voids and is collected in layers of aggregate underneath. From there, it is absorbed into the ground, where it is naturally filtered.

StormPave® came with one additional benefit: It was a good fit for the neighborhood.

“As the proposed development is intending to emulate the historic character of this District, the design team and owner determined the best aesthetic solution to achieving this is through the use of clay pavers,” said Hinte.

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The improvement in that neighborhood effectively continues the work begun by commercial real estate developer and philanthropist Bert L. Wolstein, who with his wife and—Iris and Scott—worked for more than 25 years to transform the Flats East Bank area.

Although Wolstein, who died in May 2004, donated more than $40 million to local hospitals, colleges and other institutions along the way, his family says the Flats East Bank project was both a labor of love and a source of great joy.

“I know Bert is smiling on us now,” Iris Wolstein has been quoted as saying. “Maybe now, Cleveland will be known as The Legend on the Lake.”


Our hometown, like brick, stands the test of time

December 18, 2015

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Since 1922, Pine Hall Brick Company has made the products that have made possible the homes, workplaces, universities, hospitals—and plazas, patios and walkways —where generations have lived, worked and played.

PHB - StormPave Closeup BandStormPave® water permeable clay pavers.

We started out in Pine Hall, NC (thus the name) and moved operations to nearby Madison, NC. In recent years, we’ve expanded to Fairmount, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. But when our friends ask us: “Where are you from?” we don’t tell them Pine Hall, or Madison or Fairmount. We tell them that we’re from Winston-Salem, NC, which is where we have been headquartered all this time.

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PHB-Durham 1Streetscape in Durham, NC.

Like our company and our products, our hometown has stood the test of time, from its founding as a Moravian settlement, through tobacco and textile manufacturing and to its present day focus on medical research, academics  and the arts. We’ve been proud to have been a part of the growth in Winston-Salem and beyond.
And we were happier, still, for our product to be the subject of a feature in our hometown newspaper, the Winston-Salem Journal.

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Octogenarian couple installs 25,000-paver driveway

November 4, 2015

Keep up with the Watsons? Start with 25,000 pavers

PHB - Watson Driveway 7Wilda Watson can tell you exactly how many Pine Hall Brick Company standard clay pavers it takes to fill a 1990s-vintage Little Tikes wagon.


In October, Wilda hauled her last load of 18 pavers in that wagon, taking them from the spot where they were delivered and pulling them close to where her husband, Matthew “Clark” Watson, was waiting. He took them out and laid them in the last stretch of a herringbone pattern for a driveway project at his home in Worth Township in rural Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh.

It was the last of 25,000 pavers in a driveway that measures 263 feet long from garage to roadway, varying in width from 33 feet to 13 feet. By the garage, there is a 26 foot by 21 foot turnaround for vehicles. Closer to the road, there’s a planter and a flagpole with American and Pennsylvania flags.

It’s remarkable enough that a married couple would take on a do-it-yourself project of this size, which is far beyond the normal patio or walkway that most homeowners are willing to tackle; and would indeed be a challenge even for professionals.

Even more remarkable is the couple themselves: Wilda’s 84 years old and Clark is 86. And she did the project, pulling the bricks in the wagon that was originally a grand-child’s toy 25 years ago, on two artificial knees; he laid more than a few pavers while battling pneumonia.

PHB - Watson Driveway 1Spend a few minutes talking with Wilda and Clark and you get the idea that something in Pennsylvania is different – maybe it’s the water. Maybe it’s the cold every winter that makes you tougher and more resilient. Or maybe it’s living in a rural area, long associated with being self-reliant.

After a career with National Fuel Gas and subsequent careers in insurance, plumbing, heating and being an electrician, Clark was searching about to find something to do; something, that is, besides the ‘honey do’ list that he says his wife started minutes after their wedding 66 years ago. He says that it’s a list which he hasn’t finished – yet.

It turned out his answer was just outside. The blacktop that he had installed atop the original driveway decades ago was unsightly and had begun to erode because of the harsh winter climate. He had repaired it dozens of times. Clay pavers, he reasoned, would be tougher. And besides, as Clark put it, you could start on it, stop, go see one of your 37 grandchildren or take a vacation, and go back to it.

Wilda was more skeptical: She insisted that Clark go to the doctor and get checked out. The doctor gave the okay, reasoning that since Clark always led an active life, a late-life attempt at masonry would be possible.

PHB - Watson Driveway 5A work crew stripped away the blacktop and gravel underneath and dug 500 feet of ditches to provide proper drainage. The area for the driveway was excavated three inches deeper and an underlayment of crushed stone, topped with sand to a depth of about 1 ½ inches. They used a hand tamper to level the underlayment and sand – and a wet saw to cut the pavers.

Wilda Watson says they bordered the driveway in brown pavers, then laid a soldier course outside of that. She said the key to laying pavers for a driveway is in the sand. “If you get the sand just right, then there is no problem in laying the pavers,” she said.

The Watsons worked on the driveway from June 2014 until September 2014 and from May 2015 until October 2015. The first year, work had to stop both because of the weather and because Clark’s health worsened, requiring hospitalization. He had recovered by the spring and re-started the project.

But during last winter, one of the harshest on record, they kept a close eye on the driveway and were particularly pleased to see that there was no heaving and no movement whatsoever of the portion that they had paved.

Now that the driveway is finished, Clark seems ready to embark on a new adventure. Some recent storms have dropped some trees on his property and he really needs to get to work on them. He’s still working on the light posts near the new driveway, trying to find ways, maybe even heat-lamps, to keep them from freezing up. And his shop, out back, could use a cleaning. He has a new, four-wheel drive John Deere snow blower with a closed cab and a heater, so he’s ready for the winter, this time.

But given that he has had motorists stop and admire his work and ask who put in his driveway, we did suggest that he might have found a new career path for himself. Maybe he should start a business installing clay paver driveways and walkways and patios.

For the record, he didn’t say no.

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Lincoln Park Zoo specifies water permeable pavers

September 24, 2015

“Lpzlion” by I, Hot Dog Wolf

Simon and Garfunkel once sang, “it’s all happening at the zoo,” and for generations of Chicagoans, that means their famous Lincoln Park Zoo. Founded in 1868, it’s one of the few institutions of its kind that does not charge admission and has long been a tradition in America’s Second City.

Today, The Lincoln Park Zoo has undergone a recent facelift, with visitors arriving at the west entrance being greeted by a new hardscape of StormPave permeable clay pavers by Pine Hall Brick Company. The design won a Silver Award in Paving/Landscaping in the recent Brick In Architecture competition, which was held by the Brick Industry Association, a national trade group.

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Just beyond the entry, the Regenstein Macaque Forest and the Lionel Train Adventure is one of the newest—and at a cost of $15.5 million, one of the most ambitious—exhibits in the zoo’s history.

Part of that design is now calling for clay pavers as edge banding in main walkways throughout the 35-acre site, and clay paver plazas to draw attention to special exhibits, such as the Macaque Forest. Clay permeable pavers were specified here, because city ordinances now call for stormwater to be treated on site on larger projects within Chicago. The alternative of installing underground water tanks was cost-prohibitive.

The StormPave permeable clay pavers had several advantages, in that they were aesthetically beautiful, worked well with handicapped access and were durable enough to withstand both the harsh winters of Chicago and the weight of heavy vehicles, such as delivery trucks, fire engines and ambulances.

StormPave has historically done well in snowy climates in that water goes through the paver field into layers of aggregates underneath, does not pool up on the surface and therefore does not become ice. A snowfall in winter on clay pavers can be dealt with by using a deicer made of magnesium chloride and a rubber-tipped shovel or plow. The deicer melts the snow into water, which then goes around the voids in the pavers into the aggregates underneath and is then absorbed into the ground naturally. Magnesium chloride reduces the chance of efflorescence, which is a white, powdery substance on the surface of clay pavers, which must be removed in the following spring. Magnesium chloride must be used with caution because it can be harmful to surrounding cement.

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Lincoln Park Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals. The zoo’s exhibits include big cats, polar bears, gorillas, reptiles, monkeys, and others. In all, 1,100 animals from some 200 species now reside in the zoo. One resident, a bear cub who came from the Philadelphia Zoo in the 1870s, was legendary, because he proved to be adept at escaping from the zoo and would often be found roaming around the neighborhood at night and startling the neighbors. One story has it that he was, indeed, the inspiration for the name of the Chicago Cubs.

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Former zoo director Marlin Perkins, best known for hosting the popular Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television show, is credited with founding the Lincoln Park Zoological Society. In 1995, the Society assumed management of the zoo from the Chicago Park District, which remains the owner. Since the 1970s, the society has overseen a design transition from caged animals to naturalistic settings.

Church project demonstrates strategic design using brick

August 25, 2015

For St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Fayetteville, N.C., the challenge was that what it had was a building built of brick in the 1960s and an increasing number of worshippers.

PHB - St. Patrick DWhat it needed was more space. Building an addition was simple: the original building lent itself easily to adding on more rooms.

There were two choices.

1. Build the addition with brick close to the same size and texture of what’s already there and put a coat of paint over the whole thing.

2. Build the addition out of brick and then reclad the original building with the same brick that’s used in the addition.

Church leaders and Architect J. Grason Hudson III, AIA, LEED, AP, BD+C, of Charlotte, NC-based WKWW Architects went for the second option.
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The entire church campus now uses a combination of two of Pine Hall Brick Company’s products: Old Charleston face brick, with a complementary clay paver for the plazas and sidewalks. From a design standpoint, it’s a winner: St. Patrick’s Catholic Church took home a Silver Award in the 2015 Bricks In Architecture competition by the Brick Industry Association, an industry trade group.

Hudson, whose firm specializes in designing houses of worship, said the design needed to be timeless, because churches tend to remain relatively permanent, when compared to other kinds of buildings. Secondly, churches would rather spend their resources on ministry, rather than maintenance, which makes a relatively maintenance-free exterior made of brick an attractive choice.
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From a design standpoint, Hudson’s firm used a Celtic Romanesque architectural style, recalling the historic lineage of the parish’s namesake, Saint Patrick.  Although this style in Europe is often rendered in stone, the most important relationship is that indigenous regional materials be used. In North Carolina, clay brick is ideally suited to forming the relatively small arched openings characteristic of the Celtic Romanesque style, including the small ribbon arches featured on the bell tower. Multiple colors of brick and cast stone are used to recall the look and feel of the materials traditionally used in forming the Celtic Romanesque style.

Today, worshippers at St. Patrick Saint Patrick Catholic Church now have a new,  permanent worship space, seating 1200 people, to replace their old interim worship space which was built in the 1960’s. The new church doubles their seating capacity and includes a large gathering area, daily mass chapel for smaller services and a new family room. A new bell tower provides a functional beacon to the community with hourly chimes and the new brick plaza serves as a large outdoor gathering space before and after services.

Brick Industry Association recognizes Pine Hall Brick projects

July 30, 2015

Products from Pine Hall Brick Company were well-represented in the Brick in Architecture Awards from the Brick Industry Association (BIA), a national trade group.

The competition honors the best in brick design across North America. This year, the competition saw the entry of more than 100 separate projects, which were reviewed by an independent panel of judges.  Established in 1989, this year’s competition recognized 49 winners from 21 states.

The project winners that used Pine Hall Brick products included Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, which won Best in Class for Paving/Landscape Architecture for its Johnson Plaza; St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Fayetteville, NC, which won a Silver Award for Houses of Worship for its new sanctuary and redesigned church campus; and the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL, which won a Silver Award in Paving/Landscaping, for its west entry and macaque exhibit renovation.

The second Silver Award recognized the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL, in the Paving & Landscaping Category.  It recognized architect Eight Architects Inc., landscape architect The Portico Group, builder Pepper Construction Company, mason contractor LPS Pavement Company and paver manufacturer Pine Hall Brick Company.

The second Silver Award recognized the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL, in the Paving & Landscaping Category. It recognized architect Eight Architects Inc., landscape architect The Portico Group, builder Pepper Construction Company, mason contractor LPS Pavement Company and paver manufacturer Pine Hall Brick Company.

The Best in Class Awards recognized the Johnson Plaza project at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC in the Paving & Landscape category. It recognized architect and landscape architect SeamonWhiteside, builder and mason contractor Roebuck Wholesale Nursery and Landscaping and paver manufacturer Pine Hall Brick Company.

The Best in Class Awards recognized the Johnson Plaza project at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, in the Paving & Landscape category. It recognized architect and landscape architect SeamonWhiteside, builder and mason contractor Roebuck Wholesale Nursery and Landscaping and paver manufacturer Pine Hall Brick Company.

The first Silver Award recognized St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Fayetteville, NC, in the Houses of Worship category. It recognized architect WKWW Architects, builder Ellis Walker, mason contractor Simmons Masonry, paver and face brick manufacturer Pine Hall Brick Company and distributor Lee Brick and Tile Company.

The first Silver Award recognized St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Fayetteville, NC, in the Houses of Worship category. It recognized architect WKWW Architects, builder Ellis Walker, mason contractor Simmons Masonry, paver and face brick manufacturer Pine Hall Brick Company and distributor Lee Brick and Tile Company.

Clay brick has long been used to build exterior walls and pathways, for its aesthetic appeal and durability. These project winners, however, reflect the different ways in which clay brick products are used today.

The Converse College project used conventional clay pavers, which are today manufactured under strict quality control standards to be durable enough for vehicular traffic.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church used a variety of clay bricks in both vertical walls and horizontal pavers that lent a consistency in appearance and ease in maintenance to a modern church campus.

The pavers used at the Lincoln Park Zoo, which appear similar to a popular line of pavers installed for decades across the U.S., are permeable, which means that rainwater goes around them and is naturally filtered in the groundwater below.
Conventional drainage, by comparison, picks up pollutants from the ground and transports them to storm drains and then to streams, rivers and the ocean.

“Each of the products used in these projects adds not only aesthetic beauty and durability in a number of different kinds of uses, but each is an example of green construction,” said Walt Steele, paver business manager of Pine Hall Brick Company. “Each is made of clay and water, both readily available materials, and each lasts virtually forever, which is the definition of sustainability.”

Ray Leonhard, BIA’s president and CEO, said that today’s best designers use brick as a way to translate their ideas into useful projects.

“Fired clay brick is an abundant natural resource that offers architects the aesthetic flexibility to inspire stellar and sustainable design,” said Leonhard.

Best in Class winners will receive national recognition through a special Brick in Architecture insert in the December 2015 issue of Architect magazine. Other winners will be listed in the insert, as well as in Brick News Online. All entrants will be featured on BIA’s online Brick Photo Gallery.

Furman’s new student center uses water permeable pavers

June 30, 2015

College campuses, like college students, are a work in progress. Consider Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

Long known as a leader in sustainable design—offering a major in sustainability science, hosting the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability and helping spearhead construction of Cliffs Cottage, a model home that demonstrated green construction materials and methods—it’s no surprise how the college would move forward when it decided to renovate the student center. Furman would go green.


Those efforts extended to the installation of StormPave® permeable pavers by Pine Hall Brick Company in a new and expanded outdoor space as part of the $6.75 million renovation of the Trone Student Center. The renovation was an overall update to the existing building and the addition of 6,000 square feet.

Outside, the new permeable pavers blend with the same permeable pavers that were installed at the Shi Center six years ago. Interestingly, at the student center, they blend in well where they are laid alongside the conventional English Edge® pavers, also by Pine Hall Brick Company, that were put in a number of years ago.

Richard H. Kapp, P.E. S.E. knows the building well. His firm, Professional Engineering Associates Inc. of Greenville, S.C., covers both civil and structural engineering. It has worked on the 1970s-era student center through several renovations, including an addition in the 1980s and two other additions since then.

In the most recent addition, the goal was to add a gathering area on one level above Swan Lake, while keeping an existing patio of conventional pavers, laid atop a concrete slab, in place. The permeable pavers in patios and pathways and a composite deck are atop a sand-and-gravel system that filters stormwater before it reaches an outflow pipe underneath, which then drains to Swan Lake.


“The whole 700 acres of the Furman campus goes to a number of different storm drain outlets and a good bit of it goes to Swan Lake,” says Kapp. “You have to clean the stormwater before it gets there, and that’s typically the way that it is handled county-wide but particularly at Furman, with their emphasis on sustainability, their love of nature and the way they want to keep things nice out there.”

Kapp said that water quality regulations have always been around, but have been emphasized more in the past decade. In the past two to three years, more stringent permitting has come into play in South Carolina that has required that design plans match environmental goals.

Engineers are required to consider water quality, whether it is free of pollutants that are washed from the surface and deposited into a stream or river, and water quantity, which is whether the system is designed to handle rain without flooding and causing property damage or loss of life.

“That’s one of our jobs: to protect the public,” says Kapp.

Stormwater management? Ignore at your own risk

May 28, 2015

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The visit from environmental inspectors to a small town in Pennsylvania  had the nerve-rattling effect of an IRS audit, the Pocono (PA) Record reports.

Three U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staffers and a pair of engineers from Colorado spent two days in Manor Township, Lancaster County, poring over page after page of government records. They spent hours eyeballing government properties, construction sites and storm drains. They grilled employees about stormwater, pollution protections and record-keeping.

It wound up being a costly exercise for township taxpayers. Manor, with an annual budget of around $5 million, paid $150,000 in legal, engineering and staff costs related to the federal orders and citations it received. That was after a specially hired attorney managed to negotiate a $175,000 fine down to about $41,000.

At issue is a review from 2010, which is among many that the EPA has launched across Pennsylvania in recent years, which observers say could foreshadow things to come in the region. The federal  government is carrying out an aggressive crackdown of regulations designed in the 1990s to protect rivers and streams from sediment and contaminants such as gasoline and pesticides.

One city in Pennsylvania is well on its way to solving the problem.

We’ve written here in the past about how the leaders of Lancaster, Pennsylvania have reacted to the EPA’s increased scrutiny by installing a permeable pavement system using StormPave genuine clay pavers by Pine Hall Brick Company.

John McGrann, owner of Penn Stone, a Pine Hall Brick Company dealer, said that the project which used permeable pavers in a restaurant’s outdoor dining patio and to build several parking spaces, makes good economic sense.   He said that the City of Lancaster is under a mandate from the EPA to either come up with a way to solve the problem, or the EPA will require the city to build a series of gray-water holding tanks, which will hold the wastewater long enough to give the treatment plant time to treat all of it before it’s discharged into the river.

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“We can either spend the money or we can explore the alternatives that are out there,” says McGrann. “We can get in compliance with the EPA requirement through a strategy of green infrastructure for half the investment and create some interesting infrastructure in the process.”

McGrann says that early examples, in addition to the street project, have included the use of porous pavement, instead of solid asphalt, to build basketball courts; and a combination of porous pavement and permeable pavers to replace an alleyway.

The Lancaster example has gone well beyond Pennsylvania’s borders. It was the subject of a presentation, “Building Green Into Complete Streets,” at the American Planning Association’s national conference in Seattle last month.

The challenge, it would seem, would be to adopt best practices now to help ensure a better environment tomorrow in a way that creates interesting and effective infrastructure at a lower cost.

Or else be prepared to pay for the consequences.

The EPA’s recent visit to Pennsylvania is an indication that the bill’s coming due. Read more here.


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