Recycled Pavers Elevate Rooftop Patio

March 01, 2010 |


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 The 6,500-sf rooftop patio proved a big draw for residents living in this
Minot, N.D., mixed-use complex. Composite brick pavers were used
because they were lighter in weight, more slip resistant, and softer underfoot
than other surface options. Installation took less than a week.

The new three-story building at 3015 16th Street in Minot, N.D., houses the headquarters of building owner Investors Real Estate Trust (IRET), as well as ground-floor retail space and 71 rental apartments. The 215,000-sf mixed-use building occupies most of the small site, while parking takes up the remainder. The chance of squeezing in grade-level outdoor space for the apartment tenants was nil.

Dave Pankow, director of risk management and construction services for IRET, knew that outdoor living space can be a huge draw for prospective tenants—even in North Dakota, where long winters limit outdoor time. With no land available, however, “The roof was the logical place to go.”

A 6,500-sf rooftop patio—complete with pergola—was worked into the plans and constructed above part of the first-floor offices. Specifications called for the use of a permeable product to ensure proper water drainage, and the roof structure was sufficiently beefed up to handle the weight of concrete pavers.

When Pankow turned to his go-to masonry supplier, Hebron Brick and Block Supply, Fargo, N.D., he was encouraged to skip concrete pavers and go instead with a product that would be lighter in weight, more slip resistant, and softer underfoot. Hebron recommended two options: 100% rubber pavers, or VAST pavers, which are composite pavers made from 95% recycled scrap automobile tires and post-consumer plastic containers. (VAST co-founder Andy Vander Woude was recognized in our January 2010 issue as one of our 40 Under 40 winners.)


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 VAST teamed with concrete wall panel manufacturer Fabcon on thinbrick wall panels, made from the same recycled materials as the pavers.

Pankow selected the VAST pavers, choosing a 3x6-inch brick, because he thought the pavers had a more attractive appearance than rubber and preferred its earth-tone color options. In addition, building owner IRET likes using sustainable features in its projects (enough to have incorporated a geothermal heating and cooling system into the Minot building), and going with VAST's cradle-to-cradle green elements added another sustainable element. According to VAST, the pavers used on the building's patio kept 3,250 tires and 97,500 plastic containers out of landfills.

Subcontractor Greenway Pavers, Minneapolis, is well versed in VAST because the company uses the product exclusively. “It's all we install,” said Paul Ramacher, owner of Greenway Pavers. “We don't touch concrete products unless it's to rip them out and put these in.”

Installation took place just before Thanksgiving 2008, and it was a race against the clock to beat the early North Dakota winter. “We installed it in half the time it would have taken with concrete pavers,” said Ramacher. “We started on a Tuesday and by Sunday afternoon we were done, and that included all the cutting,” he said.

VAST installs in self-aligning, eight-brick grids (made from the same recycled material); the bricks themselves can be cut with conventional wood saws. “When our installers fit the pavers into the grids, spacing and alignment are right on and that saves us a lot of time,” said Ramacher.

That speed of installation turned out to make VAST pavers the most economical choice for the rooftop patio. “VAST cost more per square foot than concrete pavers,” said Ramacher, “but the average installation costs less”—$15/sf for VAST, $20/sf for concrete—“so you make up your money in labor costs.”



Using the product also seems to have paid off for IRET. Not only did tenants snap up all 71 apartments, there's a waiting list. “The rooftop patio has been a strong selling point,” said Pankow.


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