A lot of the sidewalk around the 100K House lots is badly damaged and broken up. While it’s not required, we had planned to replace the damaged sections and plant as many trees as possible while we were at it. A couple months ago I looked into green alternatives to standard concrete sidewalks and found two main options – Pervious Concrete and Recycled Rubber Sidewalks.
While both are pretty cool products, I wanted to try and use something that the city of Philadelphia was already considering so I place a quick call to a contact at our local CDC, NKCDC.org, and they told me that there were rumors of rubber sidewalks and tree barriers being implemented in the city in the near future. As great as pervious concrete’s tagline is, after a bit of research I also sided with the city on rubber sidewalks for a number of reasons.
Why Recycled Rubber Sidewalks Make Sense
First, rubber sidewalk material is made entirely of recycled tires which we seem to have plenty of in our country. The material is more expensive than concrete by about 30% or so, but it lasts three times longer and does not have the carbon footprint that the production of concrete is notorious for.
Another big selling point for rubber sidewalks is the fact that they are much kinder to tree roots that are planted in or near sidewalks. The rubber tiles that often make up the sidewalk can also be removed to trim roots and service any utility lines running beneath them. Urban trees are often cut down after they reach maturity due to the fact that they have invaded the concrete sidewalks around them and with rubber, we can save most if not all of these trees from an early demise.
Rubber also makes a much friendlier surface to walk and play on, and it deadens sound as well. Lastly, it also reduces the heat island effect by staying much cooler than concrete in the sun.
OK, back to our use of rubber sidewalks. After a bit of research, I found that even though many in Philly were pushing for the use of rubber sidewalks, not test cases had been done that I could find. The corner that we are building on is a relatively high foot traffic area in between neighborhood so why not make it a case study for the city? We had the opportunity to meet with one of Philadelphia’s Councilmen this week, James Kenney, and it turns out he has been pushing for. It turns out that Kenney also has a soft spot for the environment and is also pushing for green roof incentives and converting Philly’s fleet of vehicles to hybrids. He was excited about the possibility of a test case of rubber sidewalks in Philly and gave us the contact to a local material vendor that could help us out with a quote. We contacted them today and see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to use this material over traditional concrete. Should be fun.
For more on both pervious concrete and rubber sidewalks, check out the links below:
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