“How could a parking lot be green?” some of you might be asking. In quite a few ways, if you do it like the Detroit Zoo did it. The zoo recently opened up a permeable pavement parking lot off of Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, close to the Polk Penguin Center. With 215 parking spaces, this new parking lot features a permeable pavement, which is more porous than standard concrete. Water seeps through the pavement and is naturally absorbed by the soil beneath the pavement. Therefore, there’s less stormwater runoff that makes it to the sewer system, lessening the load of water during storms and preventing the sewers from overflowing as a result.
Moreover, the permeable pavement can also filter pollutants from the water. It’s also pretty easy to clean and maintain; some sweeping and vacuuming are enough.
The creation of the permeable pavement parking lot, which is the largest of its kind in the county, is the latest effort being made by Detroit Zoo as part of its Greenprint effort, which aims to implement sustainable business practices. As part of the Greenprint effort, the zoo no longer sells bottled water, and it also purchases its electricity from wind farms. A future project is the development of an anaerobic digester, which will convert animal manure into methane gas, which will power the zoo’s animal hospital.
Photo by Jennie Miller/The Detroit Zoo