What Is Green Infrastructure?

green infrastructure

Global warming is a worldwide problem that so many of us have ignored many decades ago. But in recent times, it is far more difficult to turn a blind eye to this problem now. This is why a lot of experts are pushing towards a more sustainable living and future. This is where Green Infrastructure comes in.  

What’s Green Infrastructure?

Green Infrastructure is not just one simple solution. It is a system that consists of a lot of different projects. In simple terms, it requires a lot of moving parts in order for it to work.

This citywide system consists of engineered landscapes. The landscapes transform areas that are unused into a more vibrant, and pervious green space. The goal is to create more green spaces in every city worldwide to provide more sustainability. 

As we have previously mentioned, this system requires a lot of moving parts. This is why there are a lot of inter-agency partnerships required in order for it to work. Green infrastructure does not only cater to environmental benefits, it also comes with a lot of social benefits. 

Each and every quality of a green infrastructure is enhanced through continuous research work. Everything is aimed to create a more eco-friendly lifestyle for everyone. 

It is a great approach to managing wet weather impacts that is more cost-effective and resilient. Green infrastructure provides a lot of community , environmental, economic, and social benefits for everyone. 

Examples of Green Infrastructure

There are a lot of green infrastructure elements that can be placed and used in a community. We have provided a list of examples below. These ranges from small-scale aspects that are unified into sites to even bigger scale aspects that span over entire watersheds.

  • Harvesting rainwater
  • Creating rain gardens
  • Creating permeable pavements
  • Urban tree canopies
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets and alleys
  • Green roofs
  • Green parking
  • Downspout disconnection

Now, you may be wondering what does Green Infrastructure have to do with bicycling? Well, we’re truly glad that you asked. Bicycling is a big part of the green infrastructure system.

Simply by increasing the number of people cycling everyday makes any place better. Studies show that cities with higher numbers of cyclists have better air quality, lesser air pollution, better lifestyle and better community. Cycling also helps make a city more sustainable.

However, a lot of people are concerned about safety. A healthier, more green environment is great, but will it affect the safety of cyclists and residents? 

Well, as we have previously mentioned, green infrastructure only works through inter-agency cooperation. So, in order to ensure that cyclists and pedestrians are safe on the road, local environments are encouraged to adapt the Vision Zero initiative. This is an initiative that we have discussed in detail in a previous article. 

The goal of Vision Zero is to keep all the city’s residents safe, especially those who are the most vulnerable on the streets. This will help create momentum for improvements to bike infrastructure worldwide. 

Recently, the city of New York has announced their plans for a “Green Wave.” The plan is for a longstanding citywide vision for developing and bettering cycling safety. This includes riding experience for cyclists. But the best part about this plan is that it ties in with a slate of more immediate improvements.

Hopefully, more cities all over the world follow New York City’s lead. 

Benefits of Green Infrastructure

Other than a cleaner, better environment, there are a lot of things to be gained from Green Infrastructure. We have listed a few examples below.

  • Creates a better environment for different activities such as bicycling, walking, picnics, and etc.
  • Creates a better ecological and aesthetic enhancement of traditional traffic speed and volume control measures. 
  • Helps improve city drainage systems
  • Helps reduce sewer costs
  • Helps minimize risks of basement flooding
  • Because of reduced vehicle volume and speed, and even reduced crossing distances, there will be improvements to street crossings
  • The overall air quality will be improved
  • There will be a significant reduction in the urban heat island effect
  • There is a greater chance of providing habitat connectivity by means of increasing urban green space. This will be a great habitat for nativ species of birds, insects, and more. 
  • The streets will become safer as motor vehicle speeds are reduced along the corridor when used as curb extensions, edge islands, medians, and other speed management treatments.
  • There will also be a decrease in vehicle volume along the corridor when used as diverters, closures and other volume management treatments
  • Non-transportation funding sources including stormwater management or sewer management money can be used when needed improvements are prioritized along bicycle boulevards 
  • Promotes native vegetation
  • Helps increase environmental awareness among a city’s residents
  • Improves stormwater quality. There will be less unwanted minerals and other contaminants
  • Helps reduce stress on downstream waterways
  • Improves natural hydrology

Social & Community Benefits

  • Adds character and identity to a city
  • Creates a softer appearance and a more beautiful, lively environment. 
  • Cooler environment. Trees and green infrastructure reduces urban temperatures. Trees can also provide shading and evapotranspiration. They help reduce air temperatures to as much as 8 degree celsius. 
  • Green infrastructures help encourage outdoor activities such as cycling, walking, and more. 
  • Improves overall air quality and reduces greenhouse gases
  • Trees help remove carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, and ozone from the atmosphere.

Benefits to the Economy

  • Helps cut energy needs by reducing local temperatures
  • Green infrastructure helps lengthen the lifespan of gray infrastructure such as drainage pipes and catch basins.
  • Increase property and market values by enhancing aesthetic qualities.

How To Help With This Movement?

As residents, there is still some stuff we can do to help with green infrastructure. We, as a part of the community, also have a responsibility to create a better environment for everyone. After all, this is something for everyone.

You can do your part by supporting projects that are connected with green infrastructure such as local parks, bicycling activities, recycling, gardening, tree planting activities and more. Be on the lookout for any projects in your city that have something to do with green infrastructure, and be sure to support that project. In the meantime, you can also do some “green” projects in your own home. See you in the next article!

© Image credits to Cristofer Jeschke & Celine Lytio

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