Future Trends: Sustainable Water Features May Soon Capture Sunlight As Well As Rainwater
Deck and Patio has long specialized in creating serene water features in an eco-friendly way. Such features not only add beauty and enhance a property’s landscaping, but when rainwater harvesting systems are also part of the design, homeowners’ water bills are greatly reduced. Also, because water doesn’t leave the property, fewer pollutants get into area waterways.
Deck and Patio is expert at capturing rainwater from both roofs and permeable paver patios and walkways. “However, we are always on the lookout for better ways to do things,” says Bill Renter of Deck and Patio. “This means staying on top of the latest technologies and trends in all aspects of water feature technology.”
One cutting edge sustainable water feature we created (left) is a beautiful multi-faceted ‘infinity’ pond our team built on Long Island. “It is one of the first infinity ponds done in North America,” adds Renter. “The project included a stream, waterfalls, a second lower pond, and a natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal-clear water.”
To create healthy as well as beautiful water feature systems, Deck and Patio uses natural stones and biological filtration systems, including special plants. Yet, there is one eco-friendly solution that has eluded Renter and Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell.
“For water features and any stored rainwater to remain healthy, the water must be aerated and moved,” says Stockwell. “This has meant adding pumps, and pumps require the use of electricity — almost always from non-renewable sources. This has been true for swimming pools as well as ponds, waterfalls, etc.”
That, however, may be about to change.
One entrepreneurial American couple, Scott and Julie Brusaw, founders of the company Solar Roadways, with a view to creating national energy independence, are already testing modular hexagonal solar pavers that can be walked and even driven upon. One of their two test projects is sponsored by the state of Missouri’s highway department and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We were thrilled to learn recently that Solar Roadways’ paver technology is being developed — and in some places is already being tested,” adds Renter. “These new pavers trap sunlight much the way solar panels do on roofs with special circuitry to produce electricity.”
Of course, these solar pavers are made with significantly more durable materials than roof solar panels in order to allow for heavy traffic. This means that Deck and Patio will be able to install self-sustained water features without the need for electricity as well as municipal water.
“In addition, these revolutionary solar pavers will offer heating options that melt snow and ice, making them a great addition to home driveways and public highways in winter,” says Dave Stockwell. “The pavers also include LED lights for lighting the areas.”
The promise of these pavers to generate a good amount of electricity seems genuine. Indeed, testing of similar solar pavers by a European manufacturer is being done to great success right now in a village northwest of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
“We hope to experiment with these new pavers right here in Huntington Station in the not too distant future,” adds Bill Renter.
According to Laurel A. McKean, Missouri Department of Transportation, the U.S. company, Solar Roadways, has developed two different glass panels to be tested. One is for highway/roadway installations and one specifically for pedestrian use. The latter has an additive that provides better traction. It’s been briefly tested for bare feet and if other tests confirm this, it could be used in a variety of ways on a home property.
In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), Deck and Patio added a serene water feature and a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot. Permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc were put over gravel and a rubber liner which filter the rainwater runoff before it reaches the reservoir we installed at the end of the stream.
“There is enough captured water at this train station water feature to not only sustain itself, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Bill Renter. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay. At present, the system is aerated through the use of electrical pumps. We are hoping when the testing is complete for solar pavers in the United States that we can add these pavers to projects like this one and make them 100 percent eco-friendly.”