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Green infrastructure


Green Infrastructure or blue-green infrastructure is a network providing the “ingredients” for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature. The main components of this approach include stormwater management, climate adaptation, less heat stress, more biodiversity, food production, better air quality, sustainable energy production, clean water and healthy soils, as well as the more anthropocentric functions such as increased quality of life through recreation and providing shade and shelter in and around towns and cities. Green infrastructure also serves to provide an ecological framework for social, economic and environmental health of the surroundings.

Nature can be used to provide important services for communities by protecting them against flooding or excessive heat, or helping to improve air, soil and water quality. When nature is harnessed by people and used as an infrastructural system it is called “green infrastructure”. Green infrastructure occurs at all scales. It is most often associated with storm water management systems, which are smart and cost-effective. However, green infrastructure is really a bigger concept and is closely associated with many other things. Green infrastructure also serves to provide an ecological framework for social, economic and environmental health of the surroundings.

"Blue" or Water infrastructure is commonly associated with green infrastructure and referred to as "blue-green" when there is a combination of the two in the design.

Some people might expect that green spaces are excessive to maintain and extravagant in nature, but high-performing green spaces can provide real economic, ecological and social benefits. For example:

In result, high performing green spaces work to create a balance between built and natural environments.

A study in 2012 that focused on 479 green infrastructure projects across the United States, found that 44% of green infrastructure projects reduced costs compared to the 31% that increased the costs. The most notable cost savings were due to reduced stormwater runoff and decreased heating and cooling costs.

Ideas for green urban structures began in the 1870s, with concepts of urban farming and garden allotments. Alternative terminology includes stormwater best management practices (BMPs), source controls, and low impact development (LID) practices.

Green infrastructure concepts originated in mid-1980s proposals for best management practices that would achieve more holistic stormwater quantity management goals for runoff volume reduction, erosion prevention, and aquifer recharge. In 1987, amendments to the U.S. Clean Water Act introduced new provisions for management of diffuse pollutant sources from urban land uses, establishing the regulatory need for practices that unlike conventional drainage infrastructure managed runoff "at source." Under the Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published regulations for municipalities in 1990, requiring the development of storm water pollution prevention plans and the implementation of "source control practices". EPA's 1993 handbook, Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention and Control Planning, identified BMPs to consider in such plans, including vegetative controls, filtration practices and infiltration practices (trenches, porous pavement).



  • Urban forestry in an urban environment can supplement managing storm water and reduce the energy usage costs and runoff in result.
  • Bio-retention systems can work to create a green transportation system.
  • Higher abundance of green space in communities or neighbourhoods is observed to have higher frequencies in participation of physical activity among elderly men.
  • More green space around one's house is associated with better mental health.
  • Energy Use: According to a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sacramento Municipal Utility District, it was found that urban trees can provide up to 47% energy savings.
  • Urban Heat Island: Maximum air temperature for tree groves were found to be lower than that of open areas without trees. This is because of a process called evaporative cooling.
  • Water Management: Urban forests helps with city water management on diverting storm water from water channels. Trees intercept a large amount of rainfall that hit them.
  • Air Pollution: Trees hold carbon, which improve air quality in cities.
  • Property Values: Having more trees increases property value, which suggests that people value greenery and trees wherever they are. This implies that trees contribute to the preferred living conditions of people. Urban greenery can also improve mental health and well-being.
  • Water efficiency: Constructed wetlands try to replicate natural wetland ecosystems. They are built to improve water efficiency and water quality. They also create wildlife habitats by using natural processes of plants, soils, and associated microorganisms. In these types of wetlands, vegetation can trap parts of suspended solids and slow down water flow; the microorganisms that live there process some other pollutants.
  • Cost-effective: Wetlands have low operating and maintenance costs. They can also help with fluctuating water levels. Aesthetically, constructed wetlands are able to add greenery to its surrounding environment. It also helps to reduce unpleasing odors of wastewater.
  • Treating stormwater runoff closer to the source naturally, without the use of chemicals through the use of plants and soil media, so that cleaner water is discharged into waterways and eventually our reservoirs.
  • Enhancing biodiversity and site aesthetics.
  • Bringing people closer to water, and creating new recreational and community spaces for people to enjoy.
  • Treating stormwater runoff closer to the source naturally, without the use of chemicals through the use of plants and soil media, so that cleaner water is discharged into waterways and eventually our reservoirs.
  • Enhancing biodiversity and site aesthetics.
  • Bringing people closer to water, and creating new recreational and community spaces for people to enjoy.
  • Reducing the need, space and stormwater impact of motor vehicle parking by way of increased densities, height limits and floor area ratios; shared, stacked, indoor and unbundled automobile parking; making the best use of on-street parking and pricing strategies; car-sharing; free city-wide mass transit; requiring one secure indoor bicycle parking space per bedroom and better bicycle and pedestrian roadway infrastructure.
  • Sustainable landscape design features, such as tree preservation and minimum rootable soil volumes for new tree planting, use of structural soils, suspended paving systems, bioretention and biofiltration strategies and requiring the use of the holistic practices of Bay-Friendly Landscaping.
  • Water storage and harvesting through cisterns and rooftop containers.
  • Other strategies to handle or infiltrate water on development and redevelopment sites.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy administers a range of energy efficiency tax incentives, and green infrastructure could be integrated into project design to claim the incentive. An example of how this might work is found in Oregon’s Energy Efficiency Construction Credits. In Eugene, Oregon, a new biofuel station built on an abandoned gas station site included a green roof, bioswales and rain gardens. In this case, nearly $250,000 worth of tax credits reduced income and sales tax for the private company that built and operated the project.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury administers the multi-billion dollar New Markets Tax Credit program, which encourages private investment for a range of project types (typically real estate or business development projects) in distressed areas. Awards are allocated to non-profit and private entities based on their proposals for distributing these tax benefits.
  • Urban forestry in an urban environment can supplement managing storm water and reduce the energy usage costs and runoff in result.
  • Bio-retention systems can work to create a green transportation system.
  • Stormwater Curb Extensions can increase pedestrian safety by increasing visibility and reducing crossing distances at intersections.
  • 250 people will be employed annually in green jobs.
  • Up to 1.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emission to be avoided or absorbed through green infrastructure each year (the equivalent of removing close to 3,400 vehicles from roadways)
  • Air quality will improve due to all the new trees, green roofs, and parks
  • Communities will benefit on the social and health side
  • About 20 deaths due to asthma will be avoided
  • 250 fewer work or school days will be missed
  • Deaths due to excessive urban heat could also be cut by 250 over 20 years.
  • The new greenery will increase property values by $390 million over 45 years, also boosting the property taxes the city takes in.
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Wikipedia

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