Ec(c)ology and sustainability: a match made in heaven
- 26/05/2023 -
When we think of ecological and green outdoor spaces, flower fields, insect houses and lush vegetation are things that immediately come to mind. However, ECCO goes even further – in addition to all the splendour that nature has to offer us, sustainability and quality are also given high priority when developing permeable solutions.
Restoring the water cycle
Water has a major impact on our lives and on the nature around us: take water scarcity and lower groundwater levels, for example, as well as the countless floods around the world. Being conscious about water and thinking about how we ourselves can do our bit to reduce our water footprint is already a step in the right direction. However, an important element that is often overlooked is how (re)landscaping outdoor spaces or gardens can affect the water cycle. The reality is that we live in a grey, paved and petrified environment, as asphalt, concrete or clinkers are often chosen. As a result, rainwater that falls down on that paving flows into and into sewers, canals and watercourses almost immediately. Thus, the rainwater has no time to infiltrate into the soil and, moreover, the run-off water carries with it all kinds of pollutants, oil and petrol, with all its consequences. These paved surfaces also cause heat to be retained for longer – in effect, a “heat island effect” is created. By softening and thus making the soil permeable again, excess rainwater has a chance to seep through into the ground and there is better temperature regulation and more cooling.
ECCO breaks out
ECCO Products is also fighting to soften Flemish soil: for years, ECCO has focused on developing and optimising sustainable, high-quality and water-permeable products. Our mission is therefore sharp: to make 20 million m² water permeable and that by 2025. More than that, ECCO wants to double that number every five years to move together towards a greener, softened future. ECCO products also offer a solution to rebalance the water cycle, namely by draining excess rainwater. Opting for sustainable and water-permeable materials takes climate awareness to the next level, because taking nature and the water cycle into account goes beyond simply building a pond or providing a cistern. Softening creates extra space for greenery, for water and, consequently, for greater biodiversity. Creating an optimal climate that benefits both Mother Nature and man therefore occupies a prominent place in ECCO’s vision.
Gravel stabilisation, the key to a permeable environment
The best-known example of permeable solutions when constructing outdoor spaces is most probably the gravel mat. Laying gravel and gravel mats creates an immediate ecological effect: rainwater can infiltrate directly into the subsoil, even during heavy rainfall. With quality gravel mats, a pavement similar to an asphalt surface is also created. In addition, a durable gravel mat system requires less maintenance and significantly extends the life of the gravel. However, classic gravel paving without mats has one major disadvantage: if it is frequently driven or walked on, the gravel can start to shift, puddles and pits develop and the comfort of the gravel paving decreases. In the past, gravel with lots of fine particles was often opted for to ensure that the gravel stays put. This type of gravel paving does have a downside: more fine particles reduce water permeability, which still creates pits, puddles and ruts and we create an undesirable effect. Furthermore, fine gravel is more likely to stick to shoes.
The solution: ECCOgravel gravel sheets
When choosing gravel mats during the construction of a driveway or (garden) path, the challenge is to use a flexible, yet high-quality and sturdy gravel mat that can withstand a variety of “loads”. When driving a car over gravel grids, you do not only exert pressure, but manoeuvring (twisting and turning) also exerts torque forces on the substrate. At the same time, it is important that the gravel grids remain flexible so that they do not break in cold temperatures. By using ECCOgravel, you get the best of both worlds: you get a functional and stable gravel pavement that looks sleek and modern, yet is flexible and perfectly permeable. So muddy puddles and potholes are a thing of the past. Moreover, the ECCOgravel gravel mats provide a stable surface which prevents the gravel from sliding and makes it possible to drive over it with a car, bicycle or even a wheelchair. Finally, the ECCOgravel gravel mats also have a wide field of application: ranging from terraces, footpaths and garden paths and driveways to the construction of roof terraces and fire roads.
The numerous advantages of ECCOgravel
During the design of ECCOgravel, much attention and time was spent on optimising the quality of the board. Thus, all ECCOgravel sheets are produced from A to Z in Belgium, which means ECCO can apply high quality parameters. ECCOgravel sheets are made of HDPE, High Density Polyethylene. This type of material is naturally more flexible and will therefore not break or deform when driven over. Moreover, all ECCOgravel gravel mats have plastic reinforcements between the honeycombs, making the wring load resistance very high. The composition of the anti-root fabric – also known as geotextile – glued to the slab was also developed with great care. After all, one of the challenges in the field of gravel mats is to prevent the gravel from getting underneath the gravel sheet and thus exposing the sheet. Since ECCOgravel uses the most sophisticated bonding techniques and the polyester geotextile is so strongly bonded to the sheet, the risk of sliding gravel sheets with gravel underneath is reduced to zero. Although the geotextile is extremely strong, water permeability is not compromised at all. The ECCOgravel geotextile has an open structure, allowing rainwater to percolate quickly to the subsoil while keeping the gravel paving clean. This is in contrast to root cloths which do not have an open structure and will therefore clog up over time. Besides water permeability, the geotextile offers another solution to an often persistent problem: weed growth. Plants and grasses cannot attach themselves to the cloth as easily, ensuring a tight finish.
Lifelong water permeability
Anno 2022, it is crucial to choose durable, long-lasting materials that fit within an ecological and sustainable way of building and living. ECCO can therefore guarantee that the well-engineered structure and design of our ECCOgravel gravel gratings guarantee that the products will remain permeable to water throughout their lifetime. Even if fine particles such as dust, sand, soil or leaf debris wash onto the surface over time, this will not affect water permeability. These fine particles will fill in the small voids, without completely compacting them and thus the water-buffering properties of the gravel mats remain applicable.
ECCOdal, a touch of green
To add an ecological and green touch to a water-permeable and walkable and driveable pavement, grass dales can be used in addition to gravel mats for the construction of a walking or garden path, driveway or (additional) parking. ECCOdal grass slabs are specifically aimed at grass infill, unlike other slabs that are used both as gravel slabs and grass slabs. All this without sacrificing strength or quality. This is because these grass slabs are made of HDPE, which means they remain flexible even in freezing temperatures. In addition, ECCOdal grass slabs have expansion joints to absorb temperature differences, so the tiles will not move against each other. What’s more, ECCOdal HD Flex grass slabs are made from 100% recycled plastic and these tiles can be 100% recycled. ECCOdal grass slabs therefore contribute to reducing our ecological footprint, as well as against the impoverishment of the natural biotope. Gravel gratings and grass slabs are thus the key to eco-friendly and sustainable gardens and outdoor spaces that support the natural water cycle and reduce rainwater runoff. ECCO’s slogan sums it all up nicely: green needs blue. Nature needs water and we as humans also need water to survive. Creating water-permeable products that meet both human and environmental needs are the ultimate goal.