SITE

What’s the problem?

Stormwater Management: In nature, soil and plants filter pollutants from the rainwater, purifying the storm water before it reaches larger bodies of water, such as a lakes or rivers, which serve as the sources for our drinking water. In urban areas, most surfaces are rendered impervious via pavement and buildings so the runoff enters the sewer system directly. Recent storms have been more of the “flash flood” variety which causes sewer backup and overflow of water treatment facilities which, in turn, causes raw sewage to be dumped into our rivers, contaminating oceans and beaches.

Heat Island Effect: Blacktop roads and driveways and black roofs collect heat in the summer and release it when the temperature cools off at night – this explains why the city is hotter than the suburbs on summer nights. Higher temperatures require more energy for air conditioning and increase the utilities’ peak demand, contributing to blackouts and intensifying poor air quality by contributing to smog. In individual buildings, the greatest heat gain is from the roof, leading to increased cooling costs.

Alternative Transportation: Urban traffic congestion results in poor outside air quality.

What can I do?

  • Rainwater harvesting via rainbarrels to be used for irrigation or graywater.
  • Green Roof: A conventional flat roof has a runoff coefficient of 0.95 (means that 95% of the water runs off), an extensive green roof (less than 4″ deep) has runoff coefficient of 0.50 and an intensive green roof (4″ – 8″ deep plus) has a runoff coefficient of 0.30. A green roof therefore delays 1/2 to 2/3 of the stormwater that reaches it. In addition, green roofs provide superior insulation in both winter and summer, protection of the roof membrane which will allow it to last approx. 2-3x longer and natural cooling via evaporation.
  • Install light colored pavement or open grid pavers or pervious concrete.
  • Paint roof with an appropriate aluminum paint to make it reflective.
  • Provide convenient and secure bike storage to encourage bike riding.

How this helps the environment:

  • Saves city from having to build water treatment facilities and rip up streets to build new sewers.
  • Green roofs clean the air of particulates.
  • Increased permeability of the ground cools the microenvironment and pre-filters stormwater.
  • Substituting bike riding for driving will result in reduction of CO2, CO, hydrocarbons and nitrous oxides.

How this helps you:

  • By detaining water and delaying it from entering city sewer system, you will prevent sewer backup into your basement.
  • Open grid pavement with native grasses growing through them looks a heck of a lot better than asphalt.
  • Substituting bike riding for driving will get you in shape, make you feel better, and if there are more bikers, the city will add more bike routes to make your commute more comfortable.

Resources:

Earthpledge
Rainbarrel Guide
Transportation Alternatives

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