During building design and construction phases, workers have many priorities to consider from start to finish. It’s essential to use proper rain and runoff management techniques to avoid floods, prevent erosion and more. Everything built without such precautions will experience structural damage.
However, today’s infrastructure isn’t exactly made to last. The United States, in particular, has stormwater systems consistently receive a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. That’s a concern for various reasons, including environmental ones. As the effects of climate change amp up globally, heavy rainfall and flooding is likely to be an exacerbated concern in many regions.
What Does Rain and Runoff Management Involve?
Mainly, rain and runoff issues arise after following bad weather. These events create stormwater, which accumulates on paved surfaces like roads, sidewalks and rooftops. This water can’t be absorbed into the ground, which causes problems with buildup.
These situations lead to ongoing environmental concerns that range from habitat destruction to waterway pollution. Without green infrastructure, stormwater can drastically affect the surrounding area. It’s crucial to prioritize construction that sustainably manages rain and runoff. Minimization is the goal for the most part.
What solutions exist? Usually, structures utilize basic methods to remove stormwater. Houses have gutter systems that direct rain and runoff into the street, where they collect in a drain. Some techniques allow building owners to use stormwater for recycling purposes, such as landscape irrigation.
These tricks can help — but green infrastructure makes a more significant difference. This approach commonly involves land sloping, rooftop vegetation, waterproof foundations and other eco-centric techniques to prevent stormwater as a whole. Here’s a look at specific methods builders can use for sustainable rain and runoff management.
1. Land Sloping
People who live on flat land tend to deal with stormwater drainage problems. That’s what happens where there’s nowhere for the water to flow. Though gutter systems can help, the water still needs a way to travel away from the building altogether. While the goal is to reduce stormwater collectively, there are still situations where water will gather.
That’s where land sloping comes in to help. It’s smart to aim for building locations that are already sloped — but moderate grades can also be created with proper planning and machinery. If an area has a prominent slope, workers need to do a lot more earthmoving and soil stabilization.
However, builders need to remember soil types, as well. If a project site sits on ground that contains clay, there’ll surely be drainage issues down the line because it can’t absorb water. It’s crucial to look for locations with granular soils to prioritize drainage. Using the proper tools for excavation and backfilling will make this process much more efficient.
2. Rooftop Vegetation
Recently, green roofs have become a popular way to deal with stormwater in cities. This idea involves planting specific vegetation to absorb rain that accumulates on rooftops, which is then evaporated. These setups also provide habitats for insects and birds.
It’s worthwhile to see whether a green roof makes sense for every construction project. While they may not suit all layouts, they work for most roofs after accounting for the slope. Additional considerations include weight, since they can be heavy.
3. Waterproof Foundation
Waterproof foundations matter for all construction projects. Without protection, water can deteriorate a structure’s base to the point where the whole building could be in jeopardy. Construction workers must protect building foundations throughout the process.
While sloping can definitely help here, additional actions are needed to prevent structural damage. It’s wise to analyze the surrounding environment to see whether supplemental water drainage systems will be required. Downspouts should direct water away from the foundation completely, hopefully to a landscaped area that can absorb everything.
During restoration projects, builders should consider rebuilding the foundation from the ground up to ensure the property remains protected for years to come. Using permeable concrete to redirect the water to a drain can help. Pavers work as a great resource here, too.
Eco-Friendly Runoff Management in Building Design
Throughout construction projects, workers should consider new alternatives for stormwater drainage. Current infrastructure helps move rain and runoff away from buildings, but it doesn’t account for environmental effects. Green infrastructure aims to minimize how much stormwater exists overall by using eco-friendly absorption methods, which should be a part of builders’ goals moving forward.