What is Green Infrastructure?
According to the US EPA, "Green stormwater infrastructure includes a wide array of practices at multiple scales that manage wet weather and that maintain and restore natural hydrology by infiltrating evapotranspiring and harvesting and using stormwater. On a regional scale, green infrastructure is the preservation and restoration of natural landscape features, such as forests, floodplains and wetlands, coupled with policies, such as infill and redevelopment that reduce overall imperviousness in a watershed. On the local scale, green infrastructure consists of site- and neighborhood-specific practices, such as bioretention, trees, green roofs, permeable pavements and cisterns."
Green infrastructure practices treat rainwater as a valuable resource to be harvested and used on site, or filtered and allowed to soak back into the ground, recharging our aquifers, rivers and streams. The plants used in green infrastructure help to cool our surroundings and improve air quality through the process of evapotranspiration. These green practices can also help beautify our streets and neighborhoods, improve property values, revitalize downtowns and improve the overall quality of our lives.
The Green Innovation Grant Program provides funding for eight specific green infrastructure practices (for a list of these practices, click here). Projects selected for funding go beyond providing a greener solution, they maximize opportunities to leverage the multiple benefits of green infrastructure, which include restoring habitat, protecting against flooding, providing cleaner air, and spurring economic development and community revitalization. At a time when so much of our infrastructure is in need of replacement or repair and communities are struggling to meet competing needs, we need resilient and affordable solutions like green infrastructure that can meet many objectives at once.
Benefits of Going Green
Green infrastructure can provide multiple benefits in addition to cleaning, infiltrating and reusing stormwater. These may include:
- Creating green jobs
- Increasing property values
- Improving the walkability of communities
- Improving air quality
- Sequestering carbon and other greenhouse gases
- Reducing the urban heat "island" effect
- Providing natural habitats