The Starbucks mobile unit at ECU is shown on the permeable parking pad created to reduce stormwater runoff.
Permeable pavers solve problem
Starbucks wanted to bring a mobile unit on campus to satisfy campus coffee desires. But there wasn’t an ideal place to park it.
So ECU’s grounds department went to work. The result is an 850-square-foot permeable parking pad that not only supports the truck but also reduces stormwater runoff.
“The conventional approach would have been to install concrete or asphalt to support the load of the trailer, which also would have increased stormwater runoff,” said John Gill, director of the grounds department.
Instead, his department, with the assistance of Eban Bean of the College of Engineering and Technology, designed the permeable paver plaza.
“This pavement allows rain and runoff for most storms to rapidly infiltrate through the pavers and collect within a storage layer just below the surface, where it can naturally soak into the ground,” Gill said.
In addition, this novel design uses wood chips mixed in with the stone subgrade to improve water quality by removing nitrogen. This step is important since all of ECU’s Main Campus eventually drains to the Tar River, where nutrient concentrations, especially nitrogen, impair water quality.
A monitoring well was also installed allowing students in engineering, geological sciences and other departments to study the parking surface’s effectiveness in reducing runoff and improving water quality.
In 2012, the grounds department installed a similar permeable parking surface across 14th Street from the Gateway East and West residence halls.