What are Provision C.3 Requirements, and How Can GraniteCrete Help?

Our thriving communities increase the number of buildings, roadways, and sidewalks – as well as concerns about stormwater management. The pressure is increasing for builders to choose low-impact development solutions, and many communities are implementing solutions that comply with Provision C.3 requirements.

What is Provision C.3?

Provision C.3 is a requirement for new building developments (and redevelopments) to meet stormwater design compliance requirements.  Among others, requirements that must be met include:

  • Minimize impermeability and reduce runoff
  • Control runoff rates and durations, if required
  • Provide for operation and maintenance of stormwater facilities

It also requires that, when possible, permeable surfaces should be used instead of traditional paving solutions so runoff can filter through to the underlying soil.  Runoff can carry pollutants that reduce water quality and negatively affect the beneficial uses of our waters.  Provision C.3 requirements seek to protect our water sources from these issues.

Getting Started

When planning new developments or redevelopments, a stormwater control plan must be created that illustrates how the project will implement stormwater controls into the project’s design and landscaping.  The plan should also show the size and location of both permeable and impermeable surfaces, proposed stormwater facilities, and detailed information of how runoff will flow from the impermeable surfaces to the stormwater facilities.

It is recommended by Provision C.3 that to comply with these requirements, landscape architects look toward Low Impact Development (LID).  LID is an approach that seeks to control stormwater at the source and mimic the development site’s natural hydrology; it encourages architects to implement designs that will capture stormwater runoff and use it for local landscape irrigation and groundwater recharge.  This can be done in a variety of ways, including the use of rain gardens, native plants, and by installing permeable pavement.

A Natural Paving Solution

An excellent permeable pavement solution that is often overlooked is permanent decomposed granite that does not contain a resin or polymer base, such as GraniteCrete.

GraniteCrete meets Provision C.3 requirements as a stand-alone product.  It is a permanent, permeable, and environmentally-friendly paving solution.  It contains no polymers or resins, meaning it will not cause any unnatural substances to leach into the soil or groundwater over time.  It also has the durability and near-strength of traditional paving materials like concrete.

Not only is it an ideal paving solution to meet Provision C.3 requirements but best of all, GraniteCrete contributes two LEED credits when it comes to stormwater design:

  • Credit 6.1 – Stormwater Design – Quantity Control (1 point) GraniteCrete helps decrease the amount of stormwater runoff on a site
  • Credit 6.2 – Stormwater Design – Quality Control (1 point) GraniteCrete helps reduce water pollution by increasing on-site filtration.

Are you interested in using GraniteCrete on your next project? Contact us to get started!

Permeable Paving and Stormwater Management

As California moves into the heart of winter and experiences the increased rainfall that accompanies it, the importance of using a permeable solution for paved surfaces becomes increasingly apparent.

Traditional, impermeable surfaces⁠—such as concrete or asphalt⁠—have played a huge role in the decline of watershed integrity in urban and urbanizing areas.  These surfaces can affect water quality, affect streamflow, and even increase the likelihood of flooding by causing:

  • Higher discharges
  • More bank erosion
  • Increased sediment transportation
  • Increased pollutant loads to streams
  • Reduced groundwater recharge

Thankfully, alternative paving solutions exist that combat these issues.  Permeable pavement has a high porosity that allows rainfall to pass through it to the ground below, and comes with both environmental and financial benefits.

Benefits of Permeable Paving

Environmental benefits include:

  • Reduces storm water runoff rate and volume
  • Reduces water pollution by trapping pollutants in the pavement
  • Replenishes groundwater, which can in turn be used by plants surrounding the pavement
  • Reduces surface temperatures since permeable pavement doesn’t produce a “heat island”

Financial benefits include:

Additional Benefits

The benefits of permeable pavement are undeniable.  One study found that after one year’s use of four permeable pavement areas there was no measurable surface runoff from these areas. After returning to the site after an additional five years, all four permeable pavement systems showed no major signs of wear or clogging. Virtually all rainwater continued to infiltrate through every permeable pavement system, with little or no surface runoff.

Permeable Paving Options

A popular paving option is decomposed granite.  However, there are a few different types of decomposed granite solutions out there.  It’s important to know the differences between each, so one can choose the right option for the right environment.

Loose, decomposed granite is the least-expensive option, as it’s simply loose granite with no binders or additives.  While it has excellent drainage and the initial cost is low, loose granite can be costly to maintain since it’s affected by erosion and often needs to be filled in as it’s washed away or otherwise scattered from the initial installation site.  During wet periods, it is prone to becoming mushy and muddy, and can easily be tracked into homes, which may damage hardwood flooring.

Stabilized decomposed granite is comprised of a stabilizer mixed in with the granite aggregates.  There are a few different stabilizer options.

A stabilizer that is often used is a product made in India, called Psyllium husk Powder.  Once spread and compacted, it is similar in appearance to loose decomposed granite.  Over time, however, this product fails and replacing it can become costly since the stabilizer and the decomposed granite have to be mixed prior to being delivered to the installation site.

Another commonly used stabilizer is resin.  When mixed with decomposed granite, this stabilizer creates a firm surface that’s stronger than loose decomposed granite.  The primary downsides to decomposed granite stabilized with resin is that it discolors over time—meaning it lacks aesthetic appeal—and it is also not permeable.  The lack of permeability is a major issue, particularly if one is trying to meet the Provision C.3 requirements.  We will go into more depth about the Stormwater provision C.3 requirements in our February newsletter.

Decomposed granite can also be stabilized with a polymer base.  While this can be appealing to those looking for an option similar to loose decomposed granite, it fails in time allowing the decomposed granite to be tracked away from the installation location and into buildings.  The major downsides to this option is that it is not permeable, fails over time, has no color options, and has temperature requirements for installation that can delay or impact installation times.

This cross-section shows GraniteCrete™ on a lift of Class II permeable base rock.

Decomposed granite stabilized with GraniteCrete Admixture has the look and feel of a crushed organic surface, with multiple surface finish options: loose, smooth, and coarse. It requires little to no maintenance, does not fail over time, and has excellent erosion control.  It is also permeable, allowing water to easily pass through; since it does not contain any oils, resins, polymers, or enzymes, it will not cause water pollution.

GraniteCrete has been approved and accepted as a 100% permeable product by Monterey County.  As noted by the County in their determination: “This determination exceeds the minimum 40% pervious surface requirement established by Monterey County and has been confirmed by an independent testing laboratory. The important fact in determining GraniteCrete™ as a permeable surface is that the entire surface of the product infiltrates water. It provides 100% ‘pass through’ regardless of whether it is used as a 3″ lift for pedestrian traffic or a 4” lift for commercial and light vehicular applications.”

In many ways, GraniteCrete is the superior decomposed granite paving option.  Interested in learning more about how GraniteCrete™ can improve your next landscaping project?  Contact a representative.  We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Happy Holidays from GraniteCrete!

This past year has been an exciting time at GraniteCrete!  Thank you to all of the architects, installers, retailers, and customers who have made this a great year for us. As it winds down and we turn our sights toward the year to come, we’d like to share a few highlights from 2019.

The entrance to Dust Bowl Brewing Co Taproom in Monterey with GraniteCrete patio.
Our new color, Carmel Coast.
  • Caltrans has approved GraniteCrete for use as a paving material. Projects have been identified in a few of the districts, and we are working with those districts on moving forward with those projects.
  • We added several new retailers and pre-mix facilities, including our first in Southern California!
  • We have partnered with Bauman Landscape & Construction and Bay Area Mix to offer the rental of volumetric concrete trucks for on-site mixing at large installations of GraniteCrete in Northern California.
  • We joined the California Landscape Contractors Association Central Coast chapter.
  • We added a new color to our line-up: Carmel Coast.  So far, this color has been used at private residences and at the new Dust Bowl Brewing Company Tap Depot in Monterey, CA.
  • We attended the American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Conference for the first time this year!
  • Sales of GraniteCrete grew by 20% over 2018, while the pipeline grew by over 175%.

Thank you for including GraniteCrete in your projects, and thank you for supporting us.  

We wish everyone and their families a happy, safe, and wonderful Holiday Season.  We look forward to 2020, and wish a Happy New Year to all!  

Warmest Regards,

Geoff Smith
David Ventura
Brad Barbeau
Libby Hanson
Anjika Grinager

How to Defeat Gophers Once and For All

The mere mention of “gophers” is often enough to incite a distinct type of irritation in homeowners throughout California.  With five species inhabiting the Golden State, it’s likely you’ve encountered at least one, and understand this hatred.

Gopher mounds in a yard.
An example of a gopher-infested yard.

Gophers gravitate toward soil that’s moist and soft enough for them to tunnel through.  Once they’ve breached the surface, they prove themselves to be impressive diggers.  They create extensive burrows that allow them to reach the roots of grass, flower bulbs, and other shrubbery that they happily munch on.

These activities not only create unsightly holes and dirt mounds that pose a walking hazard, they weaken the integrity of a yard.  Plus, gophers carry diseases that can be passed on during one of their trips above ground.

How Can You Get Rid of These Pests?
There are various tips and tricks one can use to battle gophers and encourage them to move on, at least temporarily.  Or, there is the more-permanent solution (win the battle and the war, if you will) of replacing the gopher-friendly area with an impenetrable surface.

Our favorite of all possible options is GraniteCrete.  Naturally rodent-resistant, it uses decomposed granite to achieve a firm and durable surface, while maintaining the porosity found in nature.  Best of all, it’s available in earth-tone colors that beautifully blend in and complement surrounding wildlife.  Choosing GraniteCrete means you don’t have to choose between alleviating pest-related concerns, or putting the environment first.  

Is it Hot Out Here, or is it Just the Urban Heat Island Effect?

Sustainable building practices improve the health and safety of our planet.  As the world’s population grows⁠ and cities expand⁠, these practices become even more important as the risk of harmful man-made situations⁠—such as urban heat islands⁠—increase.

Image courtesy of Green Ribbon.

What is an Urban Heat Island?

An urban heat island occurs in cities when the natural landscape is replaced by pavement, buildings, and other surfaces that absorb and retain heat.  As a result, the materials create a hotter environment than rural areas. Temperatures can range from one to three degrees hotter during the day, and from three to seven degrees hotter at night!  This “heat island effect” leads to increased energy costs, air pollution levels, and heat-related illnesses.

These temperatures are influenced by the materials used, as each has an associated Solar Reflectance Index value.

What is a Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) Value?

A material’s SRI value is a way to measure its ability to stay cool by reflecting⁠—rather than absorbing—solar heat.  It’s measured on a scale from 0 to 100; a standard black surface has a SRI of 0 and a standard white surface has a SRI of 100.  The higher a material’s SRI, the lower its contribution to the heat island effect.


Under the United States Green Building Council, a building material must have a SRI value of 29 or higher to qualify for a LEED credit.

What Are Other Ways to Reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect?

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends a few strategies for reducing the urban heat island effect.  One strategy is using paving materials that tend to remain cooler than conventional pavements, such as permeable ones.  Permeable paving materials are generally lighter in color, are able to absorb and filter water, and have open pores—all features that contribute toward a cooler paving material. Permeable paving materials are also an excellent solution because they are not a one-trick pony.  They can also lower tire noise, provide better traction, and aid stormwater management.

There are a handful of permeable paving options available, including our personal favorite: GraniteCrete.  GraniteCrete has long been a champion for the environment, and we are proud to offer a product that puts it—and sustainability—first.

The Future of Landscaping is Stormwater Management

All too often, rainy weather generates more water than a landscape can handle.  If this water is not managed properly, it leads to several issues. These can be minor annoyances such as puddles, or more serious issues such as:

  • Reduced groundwater recharge
  • High rates of runoff and erosion
  • An increased likelihood of natural disasters (e.g. flooding or mudslides)

These issues are compounded by the use of non-porous paving materials, such as concrete and asphalt.  To compensate for the lack of permeability, additional landscaping element⁠s⁠—such as bioswales⁠—are sometimes incorporated into a landscape design.

What’s a Bioswale?

A bioswale is a landscaping feature used to manage stormwater runoff by slowing, collecting, filtering, and infiltrating stormwater.  They are often seen alongside large parking lots, business parks, and industrial areas. Similar to a storm gutter in function, a bioswale normally involves the use of vegetation to reduce the speed of the runoff for maximum effectiveness.

At first glance, a bioswale seems like an ideal way to manage stormwater.  However, it’s simply a Band-Aid that has its own host of issues.

As an additional element added to a design, bioswales drive up a landscape’s installation costs.  Bioswales also require regular maintenance. If a bioswale is not properly taken care of, there’s a risk that water will not properly drain; a lack of drainage can allow pollutants water to pool on the surface long enough to allow pesky insects to breed.  A bioswale must be inspected on a regular basis to ensure adequate vegetation is maintained, there are no blockages, and that any sediment that has built up is adequately removed.

The Bottom Line

There’s a better solution for stormwater management: permeable pavement.  Permeable pavement allows rainwater to percolate directly into the ground – reducing runoff and all of its associated issues and eliminating the need for a bioswale or similar landscaping elements.  Permeable pavement is also accompanied by environmental and financial benefits.

Environmental benefits include:

  • Reduces stormwater runoff rate and volume
  • Reduces water pollution by trapping pollutants in the pavement
  • Replenishes groundwater, which can, in turn, be used by plants surrounding the pavement

Financial benefits include:

  • Reduces the need for conventional drainage features, such as curbs and gutters
  • Lower installation costs, since underground piping and storm drains are not needed
  • Reduced water-usage costs, since surrounding plants can benefit from the replenished groundwater

There are many different permeable paving options available, and choosing the right one may require a little more research than choosing a traditional paving option, but it’s well worth it.  We explore the different options more in-depth here.

GraniteCrete – Your Stormwater Management Solution

GraniteCrete is a specialized permeable paving product; use of GraniteCrete eliminates the need for additional landscaping elements like a bioswale.  Mixed with decomposed granite, it has a solid and durable surface with the near-strength of concrete. It contains no polymers, oils, or resins; so, no toxic materials will leach into the ground as water passes through.  GraniteCrete will stand up to both foot traffic and light vehicular traffic, making it appropriate for patios, driveways, sidewalks – and more!

The Future in Sustainability

“Sustainability” has become something of a buzzword these days.  But at MEarth—an “environmental education non-profit”—located at the Hilton Bialek Habitat in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, sustainability is much more than a buzzword.  Sustainability is a core value that anchors its daily operations and existence.  

The Green Classroom and kitchen at MEarth, with GraniteCrete patio.

MEarth Champions Sustainability
MEarth is an innovative learning environment that educates students from the surrounding school districts about environmental stewardship and ecoliteracy: how their personal choices directly impact the planet.

It accomplishes these goals through programs that incorporate its Green Classroom and kitchen, a LEED-certified building that “allows students to experience how a building can be used to help sustain the environment.”

The Green Classroom Design
Designed by Arkin Tilt Architects, the Green Classroom features many eco-friendly design elements – such as solar panels on the roof, a passive solar design, a butterfly cupola, and a rainwater catchment system.

Its design plays a huge part in the building’s LEED status, which is bolstered by the use of GraniteCrete paving material to create the beautiful, spacious patio in front of it.  The patio houses picnic tables with umbrellas where students can relax and socialize, and plenty of open space for occasional community events.

As a stand-alone product, GraniteCrete is able to contribute 13 points to a building’s LEED status across three categories.  We at GraniteCrete are proud that our environmentally-friendly paving material was chosen to contribute to MEarth’s vision of sustainability.

Designing the Future of Outdoor Spaces

For over two decades, landscape designer Christian Douglas has explored his passion for creating “beautiful and productive outdoor spaces.”  Three key criteria inform his designs: Sustainability; that gardens be edible; and that they have a high end, stylized design sensibility.

His Californian Modern Edible design perfectly embodies these traits. This masterpiece can be found at a private residence in Mill Valley.

Image courtesy⁠—and property⁠—of Caitlin Atkinson Photography.

At 5,000 square feet, the limited lot size presented a challenge.  Douglas maximized the space by creating multiple living areas that allow several distinctive experiences as visitors move throughout the landscape.  He accomplished this by using raised vegetable planters, strategically placed anchor points such as a water feature, and carefully chosen plants and fruit trees.

To increase the sustainability of the landscape, Douglas incorporated a rainwater catchment system into the front yard, which made using a permeable paving material a crucial aspect of the landscape design.

Decomposed Granite Failed
He originally used decomposed granite as the substrate.  The decomposed granite served its purpose … for about two years. By that time, it had deteriorated and tracked away so extensively that it needed to be replaced.  He attempted a workaround: he tried a polymer hardener in an effort to make the decomposed granite more stable and to keep it in place.  Unfortunately, this failed; not only did it look “awful,” but the decomposed granite would still track away into the house.  Plus, polymer hardeners can reduce permeability and run the risk of allowing unnatural substances to leach into the groundwater.

GraniteCrete Was The Right Replacement
Douglas decided it was necessary to remove the material altogether and start over with a better paving material.  That’s when Howard Lasker of SBI Building Materials and Landscape Supplies recommended he use GraniteCrete for its permeability, natural look, and durability.

To complete the installation, Douglas brought in Dave Washer and his team at Art Gardens.  Washer has extensive experience installing GraniteCrete and is a recommended installer of the product.

Image courtesy⁠—and property⁠—of Caitlin Atkinson Photography.

Recycling the Old Decomposed Granite – a bonus!
Since GraniteCrete is mixed with decomposed granite, Washer first made sure the old decomposed granite fit GraniteCrete specifications.  Once confirming it did, Washer was able to satisfy Douglas’ goal of sustainability by recycling the old material and using it for the pedestrian pathways in the garden.*

These new pathways support the original goal of utilizing a permeable paving material that augments the landscape’s rainwater system. Additionally, because the material is not “loose,” it won’t track away and these beautiful pathways will be a lasting and attractive feature of this garden for years to come!

“GraniteCrete is more expensive [than plain decomposed granite], but after using decomposed granite for years we found that while decomposed granite is cheaper up front, the lifetime cost is higher [when you take into account] repairs, redoing it, et cetera.”

-Christian Douglas, landscape designer

See our story about the Marin Headlands for another example of reusing on-site material with GraniteCrete.

Five Steps to a Perfect Pathway

An important element in any landscape design is how pedestrians will get from point A to point B.  The pathway that takes them there should answer five key questions:

  1. Is it functional?
  2. Is it accessible?
  3. Is it durable?
  4. Does it address environmental concerns?
  5. Is it aesthetically pleasing?

GraniteCrete Pathway in Tiburon Art Gardens
Pathway designed and installed by Dave Washer, owner of Art Gardens.
Our thanks to Dave Washer for providing us with this photo.

Functionality: A pathway should allow people—and potentially vehicles—to easily traverse the landscape.  To achieve this, a few things need to be taken into account:

A pathway should allow people—and potentially vehicles—to easily traverse the landscape. Both the level and type of traffic affect the paving material and the path width chosen.

Is the pathway going to be in the backyard of a private residence that will see low foot traffic, or is it going to be in a business park where it will see high foot traffic? The paving material chosen should be able to accommodate the expected level of traffic.

Depending on the expected type of traffic, the width of the pathway should accommodate it. The width of the path in a backyard may not need to be as wide as one in a business park, where it might be necessary to account for pedestrians walking side-by-side, or in opposite directions, or even use by vehicles.

Accessibility: The pathway should be accessible to people who use assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, et cetera. The paving material should be stable enough to support these devices without the worry of becoming mired in loose or displaced gravel, and must provide enough traction to prevent slippage.

Durability: The paving material used for a pathway should be long-lasting and able to withstand the expected level of traffic, with minimal repairs and/or maintenance. Issues that might arise due to a material with low durability being used include: an uneven surface due to material wearing away (which could affect both the path’s functionality and accessibility,) higher maintenance costs due to frequent repairs, and a pathway that is aesthetically unappealing.

Environmental Concerns: When designing a pathway, a paving material that will address environmental concerns is becoming increasingly important.  Two key environmental issues that should be addressed are permeability and the pathway’s Solar Reflectance Index (SRI).

  • Permeability: When designing a pathway, permeability is increasingly a hot issue.  A pathway that is not permeable contributes to puddling on the surface of the path, increased runoff and potential erosion, and reduced groundwater recharge.  A pathway that is permeable, combats all of these issues and provides a more environmentally-friendly choice. Landscaping and paving designers seeking environmentally-responsible pathways are increasingly turning to permeable paving solutions.
  • Solar Reflectance Index (SRI):  A pathway paved with a material that has a higher SRI will retain less heat than a material with a lower SRI.  This means the surface of the pathway⁠—and the area’s surrounding temperature⁠—will remain cooler, reducing its heat island effect.  This lower surface temperature spells good news for people walking the pathway, as well as for the feet of any four-legged companions who don’t normally wear protective footwear.

UCSC Marine Lab GraniteCrete Permeable Pathway Santa Cruz
A GraniteCrete pathway at the UC Santa Cruz Marine Laboratory, enjoyed by both people and four-legged friends alike.

Aesthetics: Beyond functionality and environmental friendliness, the paving material should blend with—or accent—the surroundings, enhancing the look and feel of the landscape. Color, texture, and shape combine to create the overall aesthetics of the path. Earth-tone colors, natural textures, and curves that match the landscape will lead to a more natural-looking path. The overall flow of the pathway should also feel natural.

Finding a paving material that meets all of these criteria can be difficult.  That’s why we developed GraniteCrete – to meet all of these criteria and more. GraniteCrete is a beautiful and natural material fit for all lengths and widths of pathways; it has a low SRI, is durable and stable, and exceeds ADA accessibility requirements. Learn more about why GraniteCrete is the ideal choice here.

People and Pets Enjoy Carmel’s Scenic Walkway

Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its quaintness and beauty—and rightfully so.  Located on the Monterey Peninsula, those who visit Carmel-by-the-Sea are instantly charmed by the picture-perfect coastal views, the rich art history, and the almost-unbelievably dog-friendly attitude throughout the area.

GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road

GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road

 

 

 

The Scenic Road Walkway after its installation in October 2005.

 

 

 

 

A throwback to a bygone era, the houses and shops in Carmel-by-the-Sea don’t even have numbers in their addresses – they’re just know by their nearest intersection.

So it’s no surprise that millions of visitors flock to the area year-after-year.  Travel sites offer plenty of ideas for activities to participate in and places to visit.  Near the top of these lists is the Scenic Road Walkway; one has to only look at a handful of visitor-snapped photographs to understand why.

GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road

 

 

 

 

 

The Scenic Road Walkway in Carmel has held up beautifully over the years, as shown in these photos taken on a rainy day in February 2019.

 

 

 

 

The Walkway’s History
Given the adoration it receives, one would expect the Walkway to have been a part of Carmel’s fabric for decades.  In reality, the Walkway—which was designed by Hall Landscape Design—was installed less than fourteen years ago, in late 2005.

To complement the beautiful landscape of the area, GraniteCrete’s natural/gold color was chosen to bring the Walkway to life.  As a paving material that is both durable and free of any environmentally-harmful substances, GraniteCrete truly enhances the surrounding scenery and drives home the “Scenic” in the Walkway’s name.

GraniteCrete provided its admixture, and local company Graniterock provided the decomposed granite for the pathway; Graniterock’s own construction division expertly mixed and installed the paving material.  Over a decade later, the Walkway’s transitions are still stable, and it is enjoyed by pedestrians and four-legged companions alike.

One Million Visitors a Year
Running along Carmel Beach, the Scenic Road Walkway is so popular with tourists that nearly one-million people walk it each year.  The three-mile-long path offers pedestrians the opportunity to feel the crisp ocean breeze, while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Carmel Coastline.

GraniteCrete is proud to have played such a key role in creating this pathway brings so much pleasure to so many people.