December 11, 2009

The Art of Compromise in Green Building

View of driveway on northeast side of house, from behind kitchen nook.

"The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

That quote kept running through my head as I approved an asphalt driveway. Ugh. Not green. Not permeable. NOT what I had planned.

I had long read and heard that green building is a lofty and challenging goal, and that it may require compromises along the way. This week, forces beyond my control led me to compromise away a green driveway. We had planned on gravel...

Gravel driveway with cobble insets - Revo Landscapes

or other permeable surfaces, such as porous asphalt...

Looks like traditional asphalt, but allows water to penetrate down to the ground below


Recycled plastic frames hold gravel in place, providing a much sturdier driving surface

or permeable pavers...

Aqua Bric porous pavers

... any of which would prevent storm water run-off. Traditional asphalt prevents water from naturally seeping into and filtering through the ground, which taxes the municipal water treatment system. Porous surfaces are always a better option.

The driveway, in all its blacktop glory.

Unfortunately, cold weather prevented us from laying a porous asphalt driveway, permeable pavers would have busted the budget, and gravel was not feasible, given the significant amount of unstable "unsuitable material" immediately beneath grade. Turns out our lot was the neighborhood dumping ground at least 50 years ago. Excavation turned up all sorts of household items and discarded building materials. Aedi Construction's experts and subs conferred, and explained that good old asphalt would actually help stabilize the ground.

Example of cobblestone driveway accent in the neighborhood.

I have consoled myself with plans for porous driveway accents, hardscaping of the patio and xeriscaping with native, hardy plants... and a reminder from Voltaire.

1 comment:

  1. hi lisa -

    was trying to find something from a few years ago about jeannie and found your blog. how wonderful and exciting and GOOD FOR YOU! your home looks like it will be amazing. hope to hear from you sometime.

    lots of love


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