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Parking Lots

Parking Sign

There's a move to put the "park" back in parking lots! Several universities have explored the idea, testing pavements that absorbs water but keeps toxins from the soil.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency has announced its own large-scale, ten-year project to study ways to make parking lots more environmentally friendly.

The EPA is "greening" almost 50,000 square feet of parking at its Edison, New Jersey facility. It tore out the old asphalt and replaced it with three types of permeable pavement. Over the years, researchers will evaluate how each pavement handles traffic, water and vehicle-related pollution, like oil.

The lot will remain fully functionalmaking this, possibly, the first "drive-through" government experiment on record.

And, testing hasn't stopped at the pavement. The EPA also installed rain gardens, which are landscaped depressions that collect and filter the parking lot's storm water runoff and returns it to the soil.

Rain gardens are gaining in popularity. But the EPA says few studies exist that quantify how well they work. This study hopes to fill in the gaps and determine guidelines for improving how water filters off paved surfaces -- something the EPA says will help communities nationwide become more environmentally sustainable.

Script by Gail Davis

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