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Once it has been established that a car park or driveway is required, it is then very important to ensure the client assesses which material of surfacing is required. The client needs to prioritise what is most important to them regarding time, cost, and availability and how sustainable the material may be. Majority of contractors within the UK construction industry will use traditional concrete with regular drainage systems unaware that pervious concrete is available (Offenburg 2008). Therefore, it is important to examine and perform a comparison between traditional and pervious concrete regarding cost, availability, durability, maintenance and sustainability.
Pervious concrete is fairly easy to define; it is concrete that allows water to flow through it. Where traditional concrete is a very solid material, pervious concrete leaves void spaces throughout, allowing water to flow through it.
Pervious concrete has a low water to cement ratio and contains none, or very little sand. It typically has a void content of 15% to 25% creating a structure resembling a Rice KrispiesÂ® treat, allowing as much as eight gallons of water per square foot to pass through per minute (McMillan 2007). This type of concrete is traditionally used in driveways, car parks, roads with light traffic, pedestrian walkways and greenhouses. However, it can also be utilised for a variety of different paving projects.
Pervious concrete has been around for approximately 20 years but has only recently started to expand further into the market due to the material meeting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) storm water regulations. The increase in demand for pervious concrete used on projects has increased extensively in the US within the last three to four years, which during the last year has caught on here in the UK construction industry. The reason as to why the material has caught the eye of the UK construction industry may be due to the tremendous potential the material has had on scaling back the negative impact that traditional concrete has had on the environment, by eliminating storm water runoff, removing pollutants and even recycling the storm water captured. However, many developers fail to see beyond costs of impervious implementations and therefore adoption has been slow.
The core purpose of this research report aims to identify how pervious concrete compares to traditional concrete in relation to costs, availability, durability, maintenance and sustainability.
2.0 Problem Statement
The use of pervious concrete over the world has been on the increase over the past few years. While pervious concrete has become more and more popular, there are still many questions to be answered regarding the application of it before it becomes a widely accepted material.
3.0 Research Aim
Pervious concrete is just entering the UK market and has not yet widely been used. It is important to investigate how pervious concrete compares in the UK regarding up-front costs and other factors, with that of traditional pavement techniques for applications such as sidewalks, driveways and car parks. The purpose of this research project is to perform such a comparison. The comparison will allow a differentiation between the materials based on: -
Cost (Initial Cost and Long Term Costs)
Material Strength (Durability)
Availability of Materials and Contractors
To determine if pervious concrete is just as strong and durable as traditional concrete.
To analyse the costs involved in producing and constructing both materials.
To examine the available certified skilled contractors who are available to lay the products.
To critically analyse future outcomes of the pervious product and see if it measures up to traditional concrete in the long run in aspects of durability, maintenance and overall long term savings
To evaluate the sustainable properties between pervious and traditional concrete.
To compare availability of both pervious concrete and traditional concrete across quarries within the UK.
5.0 Importance and Benefits of Study
During my placement year I developed a keen interest in pervious concrete. Attending material trials on various concrete materials including pervious and traditional concrete drove this interest. The material trial that I attended demonstrated pervious concrete being mixed and laid; it also demonstrated the key advantages of the product, which were its porous properties.
My fascination led me to question why pervious concrete is not used more frequently in the UK. Further research into this led me to believe that this was a new product that was only just emerging into the UK market place. This has resulted in me undertaking a report regarding the comparison of pervious concrete to regular traditional concrete and analysing all factors to work out if pervious concrete has the potential of benefiting the UK construction industry. The key information for this report will be based on US data as the product has been tried and tested there for a number of years. However, data will also be collected from UK sources, but will consist of tests carried out during my placement year and also from projects where pervious concrete has been used in the UK.
Furthermore, I believe this topic should be given as much exposure as possible as not many people realise this product exists, thus leading to the lack of identification regarding the significant benefits they could obtain. Research on this topic has been undertaken in the US by McMillan (2007), however McMillan has failed to mention the UK market and has robustly focused on the US Construction industry, thus leading to a gap in the literature regarding this topic. This is where my report fits in, as it will focus on the UK Construction industry. Although there is only a very small amount of information available, there is more than enough accessible to undertake this report and broaden my own knowledge and that of the reader. I feel this is an important topic to explore for all the reasons discussed above.
6.0 Research Design
Key Stage 1 : The Literature Review
The literature review will review the relevant information on both pervious concrete and traditional concrete, in particular looking at books, research articles, and journal articles that have studied the use of both products.
Key Stage 2 : The Pilot Study
The pilot study will take the form of a series of structured interviews with experienced specialists who have worked with both pervious and traditional concrete methods. An questionnaire will also be used for this pilot study in order to obtain a diverse range of data.
Key Stage 3 : The Main Study
The feedback that is received from the pilot study will set the groundwork for designing the main study questionnaire, which will be used to compare views on both pervious and traditional concrete for external uses.
Key Stage 4 : Writing the Dissertation
This phase involves writing up the dissertation in report format.