AUGUST 7, 2008
Franke James left her green footprint in The National Post today.
Vanessa Farquharson, the Post’s Sense & Sustainability columnist wrote about Franke’s real life story of ripping up her interlocking driveway, battling City Hall, and winning the right to be the first pilot project for a green driveway in North York (as told in Franke’s visual essay, Paradise Unpaved).
“Franke James likes doing the hard things first, which is why, when it came to reducing her carbon footprint, she skipped right past the programmable thermostat and coffee thermos business and headed straight for the real green challenge — selling her SUV and replacing the driveway with a garden.
Well, technically speaking, the driveway still exists. But it’s been completely covered in grass and surrounded with trees, bushes and other lush foliage…” from Kicking a keen sense of green to the curb Aug.7/08, The National Post, Page AL12
Permeable Driveways Save the City Money
Farquharson quotes Franke in her article, “If more people did this, it would save the city money… When you look 25 years down the road at how many people will be living here, how many more hard surfaces will be built — there’ll be a lot more stormwater runoff and we’ll have to build more water filtration plants. But if we start using permeable materials for our driveways, that’ll at least be a start.”
In Paradise Unpaved, Franke compared the stormwater runoff from her former interlock driveway versus her new green driveway and garden. She found that about 75% of the total annual runoff was diverted from the sewers and now recharges the groundwater and nourishes plants and trees. But she is just one homeowner. Would more permeable surfaces save the city significant money?
Chicago’s Green Alleys Project
Chicago thinks so. Their Green Alleys project aims to replace 1,900 miles of alleyways (more than any other city in the world), with permeable alleys. The program is designed to help manage stormwater, reduce the urban heat island effect and incorporate recycled materials (such as tires) into the permeable pavers. It’s an urgent initiative for the city. Their alleys are lacking proper sewer connections which cause serious flooding issues for homes nearby. The city realized that permeable alleyways would be a more cost-effective solution than expensive sewer hookups. Read more about Chicago’s Green Alleys.
Ontario’s costs forecast at $400 to $500 million
A recent article Lake cleanup viable if city handles runoff highlights the importance of Toronto finding a solution to polluted stormwater runoff.
“The Don and Inner Harbour have some 50 points where combined storm water and sanitary sewers can overflow during heavy rains, discharging polluted runoff directly into the waterway. Underground storage tanks would catch runoff and later send it to upgraded sewage treatment plants — a project that carries a price tag of roughly $400 million to $500 million.”
It makes you wonder how much lower the price tag (and cleaner the lakes) would be if more driveways, alleys, sidewalks and eventually even roads, were converted to permeable materials.
But putting aside number-crunching and environmental benefits, some people just want to unpave their Paradise because it’s beautiful!
“[Franke’s] story made me want to buy a house just to turn the driveway into a garden.” Connor McCall
See the newspaper in pdf.
Featured illustrations and photograph from Franke’s visual essay, Paradise Unpaved.