South Dakota National Guard Shows Strategical Concrete Thinking with Pervious Concrete

With a history of training and preparing armed forces for every major U.S. conflict since World War I. South Dakota’s Army National Guard Camp Rapid Campus in Rapid City has a legacy of providing innovative tactics and strategic thinking for those who defend our nation.

JTitze_DLudens_Winter1Camp Rapid recently used its cutting-edge thinking to turn a parking lot into an educational opportunity and environmental benefit. As part of Camp Rapid’s regular maintenance and upkeep, Dale Ludens, engineering supervisor for South Dakota Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, led a project to construct a 5,000 square-foot parking lot and driveway from pervious concrete at the Distinguished Visitor’s Headquarters on Camp Rapid. Rooted in the Camp’s spirit of leading innovation and promoting education, Ludens used the project to create an opportunity for the community and local university to learn about sustainable design and its economic, environmental and social impacts.

To plan and execute the project at Camp Rapid, Ludens assembled a team of eager participants: architects, engineers, ready mixed concrete suppliers, contractors, users and researchers from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T). A set of specific goals were laid forth to explore the use of pervious concrete in the construction of the lot and driveway, determine the viability for future developments, identify local individuals with LEED®, and sustainable design credentials as well as promote innovation and education among interested students and institutes of higher education.

Pervious concrete brought a number of positive attributes and benefits to the project. Unlike traditional paving materials that do not allow for storm water to drain through the pavement, pervious concrete permits three to eight gallons of water per minute to pass through each square foot of the material. By allowing rainwater to seep into the ground, pervious concrete can be instrumental in recharging groundwater and reducing storm water runoff. Using pervious pavements reduces the need for retention ponds, swales, and other costly storm water management devices. Pervious pavement integrates hardscape surfaces with storm water management.

At the same time, the durability, strength, and long life cycle of concrete make it a cost-effective, long lasting pavement solution.

The porous nature of pervious concrete prevents runoff containing harmful contaminants such as oil, grease and other fluids from automobiles, from filtering directly through into the groundwater. In fact, pervious concrete systems can be constructed to actually filter contaminants out, helping to support a healthy ecosystem and recharge groundwater supplies. By constructing the project with pervious concrete, there was less disruption to the delicate balance of the surrounding environment at Camp Rapid, which includes nearby Rapid Creek.

The team participated in layout, mix design specifications, and full scale construction in October 2008 using a collaborative design approach. Ludens also secured funding for participation by Craig Phillips, a graduate student at SDSM&T, to participate in the project by researching mix proportioning using local aggregates, recommendation of two mix designs, permeability testing, in-place compaction results and reporting.

Ludens not only developed the project for its sustainable benefits to Camp Rapid, but intended for it to be an example of how sustainable design and development can used in communities. As part of this commitment to continued education, all information has been made available to other users, designers, owners and contractors in South Dakota whether they participated in the project or not.

The project test information from SDSM&T and tours of the site are available upon request. Ludens has also made efforts to provide details of their winter maintenance to allow users to learn from the true local freeze-thaw data. Ludens developed a presentation to share information about the project with the design community and was recently a featured speaker at SDSM&T’s Annual Concrete Conference with over 75 design individuals in attendance and also delivered the presentation at the 2009 South Dakota Engineering Society Annual Professional Develepment (PDH) Conference.  

In the spirit of Camp Rapid’s commitment to innovation and education, Ludens took the opportunity to bring a new technology to South Dakota and ensure that it was, and continues to be, a learning experience for anyone who takes part. By employing the use of concrete for sustainable benefits, the project will benefit the Camp Rapid community and surrounding environment for decades to come.