How the GraniteCrete Team is Investing in Our Planet

Each year on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day.  We have the opportunity to evaluate the impact our everyday choices have on the planet, and to look at where we can improve to better protect it for generations to follow.

At GraniteCrete, we are proud to supply a product that benefits the environment in several ways.  However, our commitment to sustainability and environmentally-friendly choices doesn’t end there.

The entire GraniteCrete team participates in composting of all qualifying food waste, as well as recycling of all approved items.

Other steps some of our team members take involve:

  • Using all LED lightbulbs
  • Making an effort to not buy any single-use items
  • Purchasing as many items as possible in glass containers – which are then reused for pickling, food storage, et cetera – or, buying items in compostable packaging
  • Using plant-based cleaners and/or biodegradable soaps
  • Driving hybrid vehicles
  • Deriving 100% of their home’s electricity from roof solar panels
  • Opting to replace their lawn with native plants, permeable hardscape, and drip irrigation systems

Choosing the Right Finish

When completing the GraniteCrete installation process, there are a number of ways to finish the surface to achieve different looks.  This month, we look at some of those tried-and-true methods.

Method One

Simply compact the GraniteCrete with a lawn roller filled with water.  Once it’s fully compacted, walk away – that’s it!  The look is similar to that of the surface finish seen with asphalt, but much more environmentally-friendly.


Method Two

Some people prefer to take the above method a step further, by laying a piece of plywood down on top of the GraniteCrete and using a vibratory-plate for the final compaction.  It’s important that a vibratory-plate is NOT used directly on the surface of GraniteCrete, as this can create undesirable lines.


Method Three

Similar to the above methods: After compacting GraniteCrete with a lawn roller, lay a medium-bristle broom on top of the GraniteCrete and drag it across the top of the material.  This will loosen approximately the top 1/16″ of GraniteCrete, which creates a more natural-looking finish.  If desired, a second rolling with the lawn roller can be done to smooth some of the loose aggregates back into the finish.


Method Four

To take the above a step further, drag the broom more aggressively across the surface to remove the top ¼” of GraniteCrete.  This will end up exposing the larger aggregates, and allow the material to blend in more with surrounding softscape.

Christie Park: A Stunning Transformation

“Renovation” does not even begin to do justice to the incredible transformation that Christie Park in Emeryville, CA has undergone since plans to expand the park—and overhaul its design—were first introduced in 2014.

A Lackluster Beginning
Previously, the park featured an under-utilized “amphitheater” design that lacked imagination and warmth.  As a result, the number of visitors to the park was dismal and it failed to fulfill a city policy geared toward cultivating family-friendly spaces throughout Emeryville.  So, the Emeryville Planning Commission decided something needed to be done.

The Planning Commission introduced plans to increase the park size by a half acre, develop an innovative playground with innovative structures that step away from traditional “cookie cutter” structures, and foster a sense of community throughout the “Christie Core” area of the city.

A Dream Realized
Christie Park has truly evolved from a “park” in name only into a unique and beautiful gathering place for families, dog owners, athletes – and more!

Christie Park’s new dog park, paved with GraniteCrete.

Located behind Emeryville’s Public Market, the park now has a hip, progressive vibe.  It features an ocean-themed playground, lush green lawns perfect for picnicking, and a fenced-in dog park paved with a custom blend of two of GraniteCrete’s standard colors, supplied by Napa Valley Materials: 60% Natural and 40% Ash Grey.  As an environmentally-friendly paving material, GraniteCrete fits in perfectly with the overall look and feel of the renovated park.

A Doggone Good Dog Park
Designed by Hart Howerton, the minimalist-design dog park includes circle benches surrounding beautiful trees and a handful of decorative rocks sprinkled here-and-there, leaving plenty of room for playful pups to explore and meet new friends.  And, since GraniteCrete exceeds ADA compliance requirements, dog owners of all physical capabilities will be able to bring their faithful companions to enjoy the dog park.

GraniteCrete is proud to be a part of the Christie Park redesign and renovation that has enriched the city of Emeryville.

Happy Holidays from GraniteCrete!

As the year winds down and we turn our sights toward the one to come, we’d like to express our gratitude to the architects, installers, retailers, and customers who chose to include us in their projects this past year. We appreciate your support, and look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.  Before we gear up for the new year, we’d like to take a moment to share a few highlights from 2021:

GraniteCrete has also been fortunate to be a part of many exciting projects that put sustainability, durability and permeability first.  Here, we recognize this year’s outstanding commercial and residential installations:

  • Paradise Valley Estates: The pathways at this luxury retirement community in Fairview were beautifully designed by RHAA Landscape Architects and artfully installed by Brightview.

RHAA often specs GraniteCrete, stating:

“It is a good option when clients are looking for stabilized paving products with a natural look, durability, and the potential to be permeable.”

Newcastle: Amador Landscape & Design gave this residence new life by designing a landscape that flawlessly incorporates GraniteCrete into the walkway entrance, the driveway, and a pathway circling the house.  The homeowner is thrilled with the final result.

“[The GraniteCrete] has totally transformed our property.  It performed perfectly through our 100-year rain storm; I think we measured 11 inches during the storm and no water problems – which we have had in the past – because the GraniteCrete is so porous.”
                                                                   -Laura Udall, homeowner

Retailers Spotlight

This year we are excited to recognize Graniterock as our top retailer for the second year in a row.  The Graniterock Redwood City facility took top honors for a single location, almost double its closest competitor.

We are also thrilled to highlight two sales reps from our retailer network: Michael Doucette for the second year in a row was the top sales rep in revenue and volume. A special thank you to Michael for bringing us in on almost all of his sales involving GraniteCrete. This was a great choice – his closure rate was almost 100% for the year! Thank you Graniterock and Michael for a fantastic year!

A big shout-out to Howard Lasker at SBI Building Materials. Howard was runner-up in sales, and does a great job of promoting GraniteCrete. Most of Howard’s sales come from residential installs – while these are usually smaller installations, his tireless effort brings in a lot of projects. When needed, he brings us in to help close the deal. Plus, we love that he constantly gives us input on how we can improve our solution. Thank you SBI Materials and Howard for a great year!

We look forward to working with all of you next year.

Managing Stormwater

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!

GraniteCrete & Wineries: A Perfect Pairing

For wineries all across California, August through October is a magical time of year known as “grape-crushing season.”  After the best grapes have been harvested—the ones that have ripened properly, and are free of rot or damage—winemakers get busy crushing them.  While crushing grapes by foot may have been the way to go in the past (or was that just a storyline in “I Love Lucy”?) nowadays most wineries use large, automated machinery to streamline the process before transferring the resulting juices into a vat for fermentation.

In honor of grape-crushing season and the astounding volume of wine created—California’s winemakers are responsible for 81% of the United States’ wine production!—we want to take a moment to showcase some of the wineries across the state with installations of GraniteCrete, and to congratulate them on their commitment to sustainability.

Capo Creek – Healdsburg, CA

“We are very pleased with GraniteCrete.  The installation was clean and easy, and the finished look is so natural.  The product is environmentally sound, is ADA compatible, and the color choices are spot on.  I would enthusiastically recommend this product to anyone looking for an alternative hardscape choice!”

 – Dr. Mary Roy, Owner – Capo Creek Ranch and Winery

Clos du Val – Napa, CA

At Clos du Val, outdoor umbrellas are provided to keep patrons cool during sunny weather.  These umbrellas are attached to rolling bases with very small wheels, which they quickly realized were difficult to roll across the decomposed granite originally installed at the winery.  Despite having a stabilizer mixed in, the decomposed granite simply wasn’t sturdy enough.  To correct this issue, a switch to GraniteCrete was suggested.  The GraniteCrete has proven to be a much harder surface that is “working perfectly.”

Darioush – Napa, CA

Darioush winery features a beautiful GraniteCrete pathway that complements the abundant greenery and surrounding architecture. Outdoor lighting has been set into the path along the edges to help patrons find their way – easy to do with GraniteCrete!

Rodney Strong Vineyards – Healdsburg, CA

The outdoor area at Rodney Strong Vineyards is the perfect place for visitors to relax and enjoy a glass of wine – whether that be on “Wine Wednesday,” or another day of the week.  Made from GraniteCrete, the patio does not absorb heat, keeping it nice and cool even during the hot summer months.

Clean Up the World Graphic

Cleaning Up the World One Action at a Time

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Clean Up the World Graphic
Cleaning Up the World One Action at a Time

Held in September, Clean Up the World (CUW) weekend is one of the world’s largest community-based environmental events in the world.  CUW is part of Clean Up Australia’s commitment to “inspire and empower communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment.“  It’s estimated that 35 million people across the globe take part in this weekend, carrying out activities to address local environmental issues. 

One of the most-common activities are local “clean-ups” where volunteers gather and remove litter from public places.  However, activities can be on a much larger & long-term scale, such as planting trees, urban recycling projects, and raising awareness about environmental issues.

Believing that truly cleaning up the world will take far longer than a weekend, Clean Up Australia aims to provide “practical solutions to help [people] live more sustainably every day of the year.”  Some of these practical solutions can easily be implemented into people’s everyday lives and include:

 

Switching from disposable water bottles to a reusable one

Composting food waste that would otherwise be thrown away

Opting for online bill pay over paper bill pay

Choosing cold water cycles when doing laundry

Using public transportation instead of driving to get to work

Other solutions require a little more time and effort, and include: 

 

Installing solar panels at a home, business, or government building for a source of renewable energy

Collecting rainwater in a barrel, to be used for outdoor water needs

Planting a vegetable garden

Installing a programmable thermostat

Using building and paving materials that are more environmentally-friendly than traditional materials

GraniteCrete is proud to fit the bill as a long-term solution for “cleaning up the world.”  As an environmentally-friendly paving material; GraniteCrete is permeable, helps reduce the Urban Heat Island effect, and can contribute LEED credits as a stand-alone product.

 

Reducing Global Temperatures Through Sustainability

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Reducing Global Temperatures Through Sustainability

As Earth continues to regularly experience record-breaking temperatures, the importance of taking steps to reduce global temperatures is at the forefront of many people’s minds.  Sustainable building practices are one way the rise in global temperatures can be combated, and the risk of harmful man-made situations—such as urban heat islands—can be reduced.

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.

Urban Heat Island Graphic
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.

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.

GraniteCrete pathway at McClellan Ranch

McClellan Ranch: Preserving Nature and History

McClellan Ranch

Beautiful Pathways

Located in the Monta Vista neighborhood of Cupertino, the McClellan Ranch Preserve is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature.

Once the site of a horse ranch owned by the McClellan family in the 1930s and 1940s, the 18-acre natural preserve is now home to the local 4-H Club, the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, and a large community garden.

The property features the original ranch house, a working milk barn and livestock barn, and two transplanted buildings: a replica blacksmith shop and a water tower. It also features an Environmental Education Center opened in 2015.

GraniteCrete pathway at McClellan Ranch
GraniteCrete pathway at McClellan Ranch

Visitors to the preserve can participate in an after-school nature program, enjoy some birdwatching, help with a habitat restoration project, learn about the area’s history, or follow the paved Stevens Creek Trail that winds through the preserve to Blackberry Farm and the Stocklmeir Orchard.

Designed by SSA Landscape Architects, GraniteCrete was chosen to pave the Stevens Creek Trail “primarily for its natural-looking aesthetic and for ADA-accessibility purposes.”

Christian Harris, one of the architects on the project, said SSALA “uses GraniteCrete frequently and will continue to use [it] on projects ranging from residential installs to public parks. We like the look of the product, its durability relative to other decomposed granite stabilizers, and that we can use it as an accessible surface.”

We’re thrilled GraniteCrete was chosen to play a key part in helping visitors enjoy this beautiful and historic preserve.

GraniteCrete pathway at Golden Gate Dog Training Park

A Perfect Pathway in Five Easy Steps

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GraniteCrete permeable paving at the Golden Gate Park Dog Training Area.
Reducing Global Temperatures Through Sustainability
  • When creating a landscape design that includes pathways to help pedestrians move from point A to point B, five key questions need to be answered:
  • Is it functional?
  • Is it accessible?
  • Is it durable?
  • Does it address environmental concerns?
  • Is it aesthetically pleasing?

Examples of pathways paved with GraniteCrete.

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.

Functionality

Both the level of traffic and the type of traffic affect the paving material and the path width chosen.  A pathway should allow people—and potentially vehicles—to easily traverse the landscape.  To achieve this, a couple of things need to be taken into account:

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, in opposite directions, or even use by vehicles.

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

A pathway that is aesthetically unappealing.

 
GraniteCrete permeable pathway at The Camp in Fremont
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

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-responsible choice.

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.

Aesthetics

Beyond functionality and environmental friendliness, the paving material should be visually pleasing, 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.