Porous paving installation at U.S. correctional facilities
Storm water and erosion control infrastructure challenges are expensive, and are a considerable drain on government budgets and resources worldwide. This has forced the development of new and innovative construction products. As new technologies emerge, education is necessary to ensure successful implementation.
For future urban planning, especially for locations with high volumes of precipitation during hurricanes or storm events, municipalities will need to think out of the box to deal with this problem.
Accepting New Technology
In 2002, Flexi-Pave was developed as a flexible porous paving material made from the increasing urbanized solid waste stream of scrap tires. This material gives a porosity rate of more than 3,000 gal per sq ft per hour, resulting in positive groundwater recharge replenishing aquifers with fresh water. In addition, because of the sheer porosity, the energy of the storm water is reduced as it passes through this flexible porous paving matrix.
The acceptance of this new construction paving product in the engineering community was a daunting task that required seminars and onsite demonstrations to educate the sector. An innovative approach to the municipal market involved training its workforce to install this type of product, resulting in real-time examples for the construction and engineering communities. This now is being implemented regularly throughout the U.S. under a program called the Green Partnership Program (GPP).
In 2017, the GPP concept was introduced to correctional institutions, and it was first adopted by the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Shelby County, Tenn. The inmates were trained to install the flexible porous paving around and inside the facility to address the storm water and erosion problems that exist there. The program was highly successful and gave the selected inmates purpose and a sense of achievement as their time in prison was served.
The correctional facility authorities also quickly realized that this training taught the inmates an additional construction skill set. These new skills are valuable, and can be used for rehabilitation as inmates reenter society upon their release. They have the opportunity to be employed by construction companies that are installing this flexible porous paving or other related projects.
Other prisons in different states have adopted this concept. Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana even took this idea further. The facility trained several inmates with life sentences with no parole to install the flexible porous paving material within its prison walls to repair and replace its crumbling paving infrastructure.
In training the inmates, I anticipated certain challenges; however, I did not experience these challenges. The inmates were carefully selected, considering any construction backgrounds prior to incarceration. The training of the paving material installation was met with enthusiasm and a desire to produce an excellent finished product.
As an educator, it was a humbling experience to find a sense of self-achievement and pride prevailing in this environment. It was a first-class installation and was a credit not only to the inmates themselves, but also to the foresight of the warden and the staff to implement such a successful program for all utilizing the GPP.
This experience illustrates that a constant education platform must exist as emerging next generation products are made available to thought leaders within all types of communities. This is especially important as storm water management and erosion control are constant throughout the construction and engineering industries. The need for this education cannot be ignored.