Students in Clint Johns’ Green Advisory class made an unusual stop on their tour of the campus’s green features last month- the parking lot. In addition to learning about the school’s solar panel, waterless urinals, food scrap diversion, recycling, and energy conservation, students learned about the features of a new section of parking lot on campus located adjacent to the tennis courts and softball field.
The new lot was installed as part of a district-wide project to repair and repave lots that had suffered from years of deferred maintenance. Unlike the asphalt surfaces installed in much of the district, the new lot features a pervious concrete structure.
Pervious concrete is made without sand to create a surface of gravel bound together by cement. This results in a surface with void spaces between the gravel which allow water to drain though to the ground below. The system has many environmental and economic benefits.
Johns explained that the pervious surface allows water to percolate through to the ground below to recharge groundwater supplies and reduce storm drain run off. Johns also discussed the lot’s diabatic properties- because the lot is lighter in color than traditional asphalt, it absorbs less heat, resulting in cooler ambient temperatures next to the lot.
In fact, the concern over heat islands at Irvington High School was one factor that led to the lot being installed on campus. Three years ago, two sophomores approached Mr. Johns to discuss the possibility of painting the school’s roof white to help reduce global warming. Although the project was not feasible due to the gravel structure of the roofing material, the students went on to investigate ways the school was already being green and what more could be done. The two students then authored Irvington’s application for the America’s Greenest School competition which helped the school win an electric-diesel hybrid bus. As Irvington’s reputation for green leadership has expanded over the last three years, the district identified it as an ideal site to test the features of this new parking surface.
As a follow up to their tour of green features on campus, the Green Advisory students plan to conduct further research in order to develop educational signage throughout campus explaining all of the school's green efforts.