Friday, August 14, 2015

Paving our way to green

Segmental paving dates back to the Roman Empire. Treating a road surface like a wall buried in the earth, they created a series of primary and secondary roads that together covered almost 200,000 miles (321,900 km). Built to last for a century, these roads shared the characteristics of a straight path, gradual gradients, curved surfaces for water run-off, curbs, and gutters. Often 6 feet (1.8 m) thick, the primary roads consisted of a series of rock, stone, and gravel layers covered with paving stones.

Today, asphalt covers more than 94 percent of the paved roads in the United States; it’s the popular choice for driveways, parking lots, airport runways, racetracks, tennis courts, and other applications where a smooth, durable driving surface is required.

Interlocking concrete pavement (ICP) or permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) consists of manufactured concrete units that reduce stormwater runoff volume, rate, and pollutants. Placed in segmental paving much like the Roman’s did, today’s version is made of precast, high-strength concrete paving units. They are designed with small openings that create permeable joints. The openings typically comprise 5% to 15% of the paver surface area and are filled with highly permeable, small-sized aggregates. The joints allow stormwater to enter a crushed stone aggregate bedding layer and base that supports the pavers while providing storage and runoff treatment.

The physical properties of pavers provide longer pavement life, reduced maintenance costs and extend the replacement cycle while conserving the use of raw materials. It can use local materials and recycled content that reduces energy requirements and carbon footprint. Segmental concrete pavements withstand freezing temperatures, snow plows and deicing materials.

For more information about this sustainable approach to roads and paved surfaces, visit Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute.

For more information about urban naturalization and how it relates to you, visit

Can your home be greener?

Solar power can be a great contribution to the heating requirements of a building. Depending on the local weather and the predominant need for a house or building to be heated or cooled, there are wide range passive techniques. The aim is to rehabilitate the buildings to be energy efficient and offer high standards of comfort. The buildings that attempt to cover their energy needs using appropriate and constructive arrangements average insolation are called "passive solar buildings".

Passive solar design takes advantage of a building’s site, climate, and materials to minimize energy use. A passive solar home collects heat as the sun shines through south-facing windows and retains it in materials that store heat, known as thermal mass.

According to PSU architecture professor Jeff Schnabel the price of a truly green home is not prohibitive for most Oregon families. “The payback period on the technologies employed is short. There might be an extra investment up front, but families would get that money back very quickly over the life of the house, in the form of heating and energy savings.” By spending 10 percent more during construction, the need for 80-90% of the heating energy can be eliminated compared to conventional structures.

You can apply passive solar design techniques most easily to new buildings. However, existing buildings can be adapted or "retrofitted" to passively collect and store solar heat. In some ways, every home is a passive solar home because it has windows. Before you add solar features to your new home design or existing house, remember that energy efficiency is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing heating and cooling bills. The first step is to have a home energy audit to prioritize the most cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.

To learn more about passive solar design visit the Passive House Institute. For additional information and practical steps you can take to help naturalize your environment, visit

Welcome to Stumptown

In the city of Portland, and in the Northwestern United States, trees are very important. Not only are they beautiful, they are the reason why our air is so clean as well. Recently, with the hikes in population size in the Portland metropolitan area, new homes and apartments need to be built. Slowly, the trees that the Northwesterners have grown to love are being torn out in efforts to aid new construction and road renovations to support this boom in population. Nearly 2.35million people live in the Portland area with an increase in population of nearly 40,000 people in the last year according to an article from Oregon Metro.

As population continues to increase, the need for housing does as well. Roads are being expanded and city-wide traffic has increased 6% in the last year. In East Portland, residents have noticed trees disappearing at an alarming rate. These “tree huggers” are concerned that the need for rapid expansion is taking away from the natural beauty of the Northwest. Despite the vast majority of people in support of keeping our trees, the city ordinances regarding tree removal are very lacking. With these unclear rules, many contractors are able to tear out trees on public and private land with little to no consequence.

In an effort to aid citizens in being heard, the Urban Forestry Commission of Portland has began an initiative to redraft laws regarding tree removal and also to put into place replanting laws that force contractors to replant so many trees based on diameter of trees removed. Ideally, if the ordinance passes, this will limit further deforestation of Oregon as a whole and will lead the way for many other cities in the Northwestern United States.

Now for any of the “tree huggers” out there that want to have their voice heard on the issue of deforestation in Portland, please contact send written testimony to Mieke Keenan at by September 9, and cc: Commissioner Dan Saltzman at and Commissioner Amanda Fritz at

Don’t delay in your responses to our city’s leaders. You may be our only hope to stop Portland from becoming a stump town. 

Visit our Urban Naturalization Website

Hello readers! All of us here in the Portland State University Multimedia Capstone course have been working hard over the summer to create a website about Urban Naturalization. We hope you will take a chance to look at it and possibly integrate what you read into your lives.
Here is a list of contributions by class members:

Michael Alner
- Posted website content
- Designed website
- Worked many things technical

Selina Cleary
-Creative direction & design
-Color scheme
-Infographic creation (Benefits & Costs)

Michael Ferguson
-Tracked progress using Gantt chart
-Coordinated between groups
-Gave input on technical decisions
Erin Looney
-Wrote benefits and costs section
-Edited content for site
-Worked with creative team

Jonathan Marcos
- Collected/researched raw data
- Wrote and edited content for website
- Took photos used on website

Emily Pitkin
- Wrote content for "Urban Naturalization" page
- Researched/collected raw data
- Coordinated between groups

Paul Rosales
-Creative direction
-Logo design
-Website layout

Garrett Williams
-Website & blog testing
-Analytical analysis
-General layout assitance