Leading By Example with Pervious Concrete in Leawood, Kansas

Leawood_WaterWhen the Leawood, Kansas, implemented new regulations requiring developers to address storm water runoff for the health of the community, local officials knew that their own construction practices would reflect the expected and required policies in the community.

City officials realized that the new parking lot in I-Lan Park, a city park that replicates a traditional Taiwanese garden in recognition of Leawood’s sister city of I-Lan, Taiwan, needed to be constructed in a manner to minimize the runoff. I-LanPark’s proximity to a creek meant that keeping oil, grease, and debris from entering the water and contributing to flooding was of utmost concerns.

Therefore, City officials placed a pervious concrete parking lot in I-LanPark in March 2007 for storm water mitigation purposes. Pervious concrete paving allows rainwater to naturally filter through it, preventing deposits of oil, grease and other contaminants from entering storm drains and going directly into the water supply.

This technology is recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a best practice for storm water management.

“The City of Leawood is known for its beautiful parks,” said Mayor Peggy J. Dunn. “We knew we wanted to be not only proponents of sustainability, but also practitioners. “Now residents of Leawood can enjoy the park amenities while knowing that they are also helping their own environment stay clean and green.” 

City officials also realized that “green” sustainable construction practices not only benefit the city, but can also be cost effective. The parking lot at I-LanPark was originally designed to be 6 inches of asphalt on dirt. Based on similar asphalt lots, the City would have provided maintenance to the lot every four to six years.

 “This parking lot is designed to last for at least 20 years, with little maintenance,” said Joe C. Johnson, Leawood public works director. “We may need to vacuum it if it accumulates debris or leaves over time. That by far trumps maintenance costs for any other materials we considered."

 “The city of Leawood has truly led by example in using pervious concrete for the I-LanPark parking lot,” said Christy Martin, executive director, the Concrete Promotional Group of Greater Kansas City. “Other municipalities have already visited the site and continue to view it as a pilot project to watch and follow.”

In fact, two other cities in the Kansas City metro area have taken notice. An adjacent city, Olathe, Kansas, recently bid a city parking lot for a recreation center with pervious concrete aspects as a part of the project. On the other side of the stateline, Kansas City, Missouri, is working on a specification for city sidewalks to have a pervious concrete option.

Mayor Dunn and Joe Johnson are recipients of the 2008 PCA Sustainable Leadership Awards. These awards honor public officials who utilize cement or cement-based products to achieve sustainable benefits.

Additional Reading

For more on permeable concrete pavements. see Permeable Concrete Interlocking Pavement.