Cleaning Up the World One Action at a Time

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Newsletter for September

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.

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.

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.

McClellan Ranch
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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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.

 
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.

Municipal-Wyandotte-Park-2-Mountain-View

Wyandotte Park: A Little Slice of Heaven

Wyandotte Park

Wyandotte Park in Mountain View

Located in the Rengstorff area of Mountain View, Wyandotte Park is nestled in a tiny lot between industrial business and homes.  Taking up 0.9 acres, the park provides neighboring residents with a much-needed open space and play area. Areas at Wyandotte Park that have been paved with GraniteCrete.
The city of Mountain View has an admirable goal to devote three acres of property per 1,000 residents to public park and recreational facilities; Wyandotte Park helps the city accomplish this.

Municipal-Wyandotte-Park-Mountain-View
Municipal-Wyandotte-Park-2-Mountain-View
Wyandotte-Park-Abacus

Despite its size, the park is packed with a variety of components to satisfy visitors of all ages. It features play structures and fitness equipment, an open lawn, benches, public art, and even a giant abacus with rock beads.

Tying it all together is an overarching nature theme that includes “floating” rocks on metal poles, a leaf-shaped balance board, and landscaping boulders. Throughout the park, there are areas of decomposed granite stabilized with GraniteCrete. As a natural-looking and environmentally-friendly product, GraniteCrete was the perfect paving choice for this green space.

 

The abacus in Wyandotte Park, on top of GraniteCrete. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

GraniteCrete: A Wheel Good Choice for Driveways

As homeowners make green choices with increasing frequency—incorporating native plants into the landscape, opting for solar power, and switching to low-flow appliances—many are turning their sights toward the pavement surrounding their homes.

GraniteCrete driveway at a private residence in Pasadera, CA.

For the areas that see vehicle traffic, homeowners have some important factors to consider:

  • Is the material durable enough to bear the weight and movement of a vehicle?
  • Is the finished product going to be attractive and complement the home and surrounding landscape?
  • Will it be susceptible to annoyances common with traditional paving options, such as surface puddling or weeds poking through?

Finding a solution that fits all these criteria can be challenging.  Fortunately, one doesn’t need to look further than GraniteCrete paving material.

Durability
GraniteCrete is an average of 3.5 – 4.5 times stronger in compression than what is required to withstand the surface pressure exerted by a heavy vehicle, such as a fire truck.  Outside of laboratory testing, GraniteCrete’s durability has been put to the test at UC Santa Cruz: A crane with ballast weighing 95,000 pounds traveled down a GraniteCrete pathway to its staging area.  Two wheels were on the surrounding dirt and two wheels were on the GraniteCrete, for a total of 47,500 moving pounds on the GraniteCrete at one time.  Despite this heavy load, the GraniteCrete bore the weight without failing!

Aesthetics
GraniteCrete is available in five standard earth-tone colors, as well as custom colors, allowing it to blend in with nearly any surrounding landscape.  This also allows it to easily complement other landscaping elements, such as stone and wood – as shown by the excellent work of Dave Washer

Common Annoyances
Since GraniteCrete is porous, water won’t stay on the surface – meaning homeowners can say “goodbye” to having to choose between dodging puddles or getting their shoes wet after rainfall.  Despite its permeability, GraniteCrete deters weed growth as a naturally weed- (and gopher!) resistant product.  Although it’s common to see greenery poking through pavement, that won’t happen with GraniteCrete.

Other Benefits
While a GraniteCrete driveway is a winning solution for the homeowner, it also benefits the surrounding community.  Due to its high Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) value, it helps combat the Urban Heat Island Effect; this can lead to reduced energy costs, air pollution levels, and heat-related illnesses – now that’s cool!

GraniteCrete pathway at Golden Gate Dog Training Park

Golden Gate Park’s Pawsome Update

Golden Gate Park's Pawsome

Dog Training Park

In San Francisco, Golden Gate Park is a true treasure and oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Visited by 24 million people each year, it stretches over 1,000 acres and has something for everyone, including gardens, picnic areas, numerous trails, a disc golf course, and a dog park in each quadrant. The newly-renovated Dog Training Area at Golden Gate Park.
One of these dog parks—known as the Dog Training Area, located near the Bison Paddock—recently underwent a renovation thanks to a generous grant from the California Natural Resources Agency.

The renovation included numerous improvements and updates, including new picnic tables and benches, replacement of the fencing, a multi-level dog fountain, new landscaping, and accessibility improvements to the parking lot and pathways throughout the area.

For the pathways, San Francisco’s Public Works department chose GraniteCrete paving material. GraniteCrete stood out as the best accessible choice because it requires minimal maintenance and is “firm and stable, non-slip, and permeable.”

 

GraniteCrete pathway at Golden Gate Dog Training Park

GraniteCrete is thrilled to be part of the Dog Training Area's fetching transformation, and hope visitors and their four-legged friends enjoy it for years to come.

GraniteCrete Joins the CLCA Board

GraniteCrete is excited to announce that our very own Senior Account Manager, Dave Ventura, has joined the Central Coast Chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) as a board member!  Dave will serve as both secretary and treasurer for the 2021 calendar year. He’`s excited to join the Central Coast Chapter’s team and looks forward to helping it grow.

GraniteCrete Senior Account Manager Dave Ventura.
David Ventura, Senior Account Manager

What is the CLCA?
Incorporated in 1952, the CLCA was formed when three regional landscaping trade groups joined together to “protect the scope of work allowed under the C-27 [contracting] license.”

Since then, the CLCA has grown to include a variety of programs and services designed to help and support landscape contractors throughout the state.  Those include statewide education efforts, an annual convention, and the  Landscape Educational Advancement Foundation (LEAF) scholarship for students majoring in programs related to landscaping.

Membership in the CLCA has also expanded over the decades to include landscape architects and designers, teachers and students, government personnel, and more!

Don’t Let Winter Send Your Landscaping Projects into Hibernation

While some paving materials can technically be installed under conditions that are less than ideal, doing so can be risky and increase the likelihood the product will fail shortly after installation.  Common issues that can plague these installations are large cracks, uneven surfaces, and holes in the pavement.  The need for these avoidable repairs can drive up both product and labor costs in the long-run – and cause unnecessary headaches!

GranitCrete installation in progress.
Installation of GraniteCrete at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve in Watsonville, CA.

Fortunately, there are a few paving solutions available that are less-prone to such issues, including GraniteCrete.  Two primary factors that might totally prevent the installation of other paving materials either don’t affect – or actually help! – the installation of GraniteCrete: low temperatures, and moisture in the air.

Low Temperatures
Low temperatures can affect the integrity of some paving materials, but not GraniteCrete!  It can be installed at temperatures as low as 33° Fahrenheit – just one degree above freezing.

Moisture
Moisture in the air can also negatively impact the installation of some paving materials.  While GraniteCrete cannot be installed during rainfall, light fog and mist are actually beneficial and aid its installation.  According to Geoff Smith, who developed GraniteCrete, even a drizzle won’t necessarily impede proper installation – provided adjustments are made to the moisture level added during the installation process.

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 2020:

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:

  • The new campus for a well-known tech company, AKA “The Camp”: Located in the Ardenwood district of Fremont, the surrounding landscape of this new “mega-campus” was designed by RHAA Landscape Architects and installed by Jensen Landscape Services (JLS).  According to JLS Superintendent, Eduardo Vera:

“GraniteCrete was a good fit for this campus because it offers a natural look that blends well into the surrounding landscape. We created a campground area with the GraniteCrete being the main paving, and it really brings this section of the job together!”

  • Corte Madera: The site of a former dairy, Dave Washer spent several months transforming this property in Corte Madera into something truly extraordinary.  While he incorporated GraniteCrete in traditional ways – as paving for patios or stairs – he also used it as “grout” in between stones, and  to create a more firm surface beneath a bed of mulch.

Retailer Spotlight

This year we would like to recognize Graniterock – Redwood City as our top retailer and Michael Doucette as our top retail salesperson. Graniterock has been a great partner over the years, and this year the Redwood City facility decided to become a pre-mix facility; the end result brought them six-digit sales for the year. We would like to give a special thank you to Michael for bringing us in on almost all of his sales involving GraniteCrete. This was a great choice, as his closure rate was almost 100% for the year. Thank you Graniterock and Michael for a fantastic year!

Outstanding sales representative Michael Doucette and a feline friend.