Initial Considerations

One of the first considerations when starting the process of building is site location.  The environmental impact of a project can often be determined and greatly affected by some very small decisions right from the very start.  Is the site a new “virgin” site?  Are there utilities and infrastructure allready in place?  Can you access municipal sewer systems or must it be on septic?  Choosing a site that is close to existing infrastructure means that the overal energy need of the building process, and in some cases the continued energy use of the occupants, is and will be much lower.  Infill development refers to development that uses existing building sites that are within the bounds of municipal infrastructure.  These sites will have a much smaller environmental impact.

Getting Started

Before you ever touch shovel to dirt, you must make sure that your runoff control measures are in place.  According to the City of Asheville: “Stormwater runoff is the #1 source of pollution for fresh-water streams and shorelines in North Carolina. Stormwater and stormwater pollution can contaminate drinking water sources, sicken swimmers, disrupt aquatic habitats, cause fish kills, contribute to flash flooding, and cause land and stream bank erosion.”  The basic solution to runoff on a construction site is to set up silt fence around the perimiter.  To be effective, this silt fence must be set up properly, with metal stakes, wire backing and the front edge of the fence must be burried in the dirt.”

A well installed silt fence looks like the above photo

The consequences of an improperly installed silt fence will only become aparent once it has rained hard enough to cause a failure.

Other more inovative options for stormwater runoff control would include the use of filter socks or compost socks.  The advantage to this system, is that it does not just stop the runoff, it actually filters the run off.  filter socks are mesh socks filled with a mulch and compost medium that are staked to the ground in the same location that you would use a silt fence.  the filter sock itself is photodegradable, so after the completion of the project, it can be cut open and the mulch can be spread around so there is not added construciton waste from its use.  JAG Construction has used filter socks for erosion control at the davenport park subdivision.  When we do use standard silt fence, we always try to remove them at the end of the project in a way that they can be used again.   Generally we can get three or four uses out of a silt fence.

Filter Sock