Photo: Eric Allix Rogers via Flickr
Policy Solution

Permeable pavement



Summary: Permeable pavement cools surfaces as stormwater evaporates and decreases the surrounding air temperature. Pavements can be built with vegetation to be attractive to users. Example materials include: porous asphalt, pervious concrete, and permeable paver blocks.

Implementation: Adopt zoning and building code ordinances to set mandates for specific project types to employ permeable pavement.

Considerations for Use: Permeable pavement works best in areas of the public realm with lower traffic and low-to-no polluted water runoff. Cold climates must select permeable pavement carefully to avoid cracking porous pavements. Areas with clay or fine soils may not provide adequate drainage and may require more frequent maintenance than traditional materials. Plants can be grown alongside or in between permeable surfaces; but selected plants must be salt and water resilient.

  • Policy Levers: The mechanism municipalities can use to actualize the intervention. These policy levers will likely be used in combination with each other.

    MandateMandates are government regulations that require stakeholders to meet standards through building codes, ordinances, zoning policies, or other regulatory tools.
  • Trigger Points: Opportunities for municipalities to implement risk reduction and preparedness interventions based on the policy lever, building on the United Nations Environment Programme triggers used in the Beating the Heat handbook (2021).

    City planning processesIncludes city initiatives such as the development of climate action plan, pathway to zero-energy, master plan, transit plan, energy mapping etc.
    Introducing new or updated zoning/codesIncludes codes, zoning requirements or by-laws pertaining to urban planning and building construction activity.
    No-regrets actions (low cost/low effort but substantial benefit)Interventions that are relatively low-cost and low effort (in terms of requisite dependencies) but have substantial environmental and/or social benefits.
  • Intervention Type:
    Green/natural Infrastructure
  • Sectors:
    Parks, Transportation


  • Target Beneficiaries:
  • Phase of Impact:
    Risk reduction and mitigation
  • Metrics:
    Total area of permeable paving


  • Intervention Scale:
  • Authority and Governance:
    City government
  • Implementation Timeline:
    Short-term (1-2 Years)
  • Implementation Stakeholders:
    City government, Private developers, Property owners and managers
  • Funding Sources:
    private investment
  • Capacity to Act:
    High, Medium


  • Cost-Benefit:
  • Public Good:
  • GHG Reduction:
  • Co-benefits (Climate/Environmental):
    Improve stormwater management
  • Co-benefits (Social):
    Improve the public realm