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Flood Risk Management in Construction

In an increasingly urbanised world, the risk of flooding has increased drastically in recent years leading to the need for sustainable solutions. As cities grow, the amount of impermeable surfaces increases leading to a reduction in infiltration of rainwater and an increase in surface runoff which leads to flooding. The impacts of climate change can also intensify flood risks as more extreme weather can cause flash flooding and problems with frozen ground.

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Innovative construction practises are highly important in the development of sustainable solutions for managing flood risk issues in urban areas and one of these solutions is permeable concrete.

What is Permeable Concrete and Why Does it Help Manage Flood Risk in Construction?

Permeable concrete is a special type of highly porous concrete that allows water to percolate through it. It is made similar to regular concrete but without the fine aggregates in order to create pores for water to run through.

There are a number of different applications for permeable concrete including surfaces of car parks, drive ways, pavements, patios, tennis courts and swimming pool decks and it can also be used to build walls and noise barriers.

Benefits of Permeable Concrete for Flood Risk Management

There are countless benefits associated with the use of permeable concrete due to its positive impact on flood risk management in construction. Building with permeable concrete can massively reduce the flood risk by allowing rain and storm water to percolate through it reducing the chances of flash flooding and helping to replenish groundwater levels and establish a natural hydrological balance.

Reducing Flood Risk in Construction

Allowing water to percolate through the concrete also reduces surface runoff which in turn reduces the pressure on storm drains during heavy precipitation. Using permeable concrete for pavements can make them safer for pedestrians in the winter because water won't settle on the surface and freeze leading to dangerously icy conditions. Roads can also be made safer for cars by the use of permeable concrete as the reduction in the formation of standing water will reduce the possibility of aquaplaning and porous roads will also reduce tire noise. Permeable concrete can also last longer than other building material as they don't have the issues with freeze-thaw breakages as water won't settle.

Additional Benefits of Permeable Concrete

Climate Change - The use of permeable concrete can be very effective at managing flood risk in construction to deal with the effects of climate change. For example, establishing a hydrological balance helps combat the negative impacts of more extreme weather conditions by maintaining soil moisture levels at dry times and reducing flooding and water logging at times of very high precipitation by spreading out water through steady infiltration.

Urban Heat Islands - Constructing pavements, car parks, driveways and other urban surfaces using permeable concrete allow it to stay cooler during the summer reducing the heat island effect. The heat island effect refers to the higher temperatures experienced in urban areas as a result of human activities and modifications to land use. These urban heat islands can increase the temperature of cities in the evenings by up to 12 °C more than the surrounding areas. This increase in temperature leads to higher energy demand increased cooling costs and more heat related illness in cities. Implementation of permeable concrete for flood risk management in construction can reduce these negative impacts by creating cooler surfaces due to the porous nature of the concrete. Heat islands can also damage aquatic life as a result of warm water runoff into water ways leading to thermal shock but allowing water to percolate through the concrete, reducing runoff, will eliminate this problem.

Pollutant Filtration - Another lesser known benefit of permeable concrete is that it can filter out contaminants from surface water in three different ways:

• Physically - by trapping contaminants within the pores
• Chemically - bacteria and microbes break down and use contaminants as they percolate through the concrete
• Biological - plants growing in pores can trap and store contaminants

Flood Risk Management in Practise

Oakshire Environmental's environmental consultants can help you implement permeable concrete into a range of construction projects using our extensive experience in the construction industry along with knowledge of environmental practises. We can work with you through the design phase to ensure that you utilise permeable concrete in the best possible way and experience all the benefits it has to offer and we can also carry out the construction work too.