Grey infrastructure continues to have its place in a community to ensure the good quality of drinking water and to manage the treatment of high volumes of water. However, we are beginning to see a shift to more-nature based solutions because of the multiple benefits they offer to a community. According to the Centre for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), “The ability of these practices to deliver multiple ecological, economic and social benefits or services has made green infrastructure an increasingly popular strategy in recent years.”
What is Green Infrastructure?
CNT defines Green Infrastructure as, "A network of decentralized storm water management practices, such as green roofs, trees, rain gardens and permeable pavement, that can capture and infiltrate rain where it falls, thus reducing storm water runoff and improving the health of surrounding waterways.”
Why is Green Infrastructure Important?
Green infrastructure is gaining popularity because of its many benefits to a community in addition to reducing polluted storm water runoff. Implementing green infrastructure can positively impact things such as carbon reduction and air quality, habitat restoration and community health and well-being. Here are a few examples of green infrastructure practices and the benefits they bring to a community.
We know that planting more trees is good for the environment, particularly for improving air quality. Trees absorb air pollutants reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses, and, through sequestration, also reduce carbon dioxide levels. In addition to improving air quality, trees can help to cool the air by providing additional shade, and reducing the heat absorbed by buildings. Adding trees into community gardens and green spaces is also known to contribute to community well-being by offers positive impacts on stress and mental health, and creating a sense of belonging and social cohesion.
Wetlands have a natural filtration process that remove excess nutrients from the water flowing through them. This allows them to clean the water making it healthier and safer for drinking, swimming and recreation. Wetlands also help to control floods by acting as natural buffers, and they are important for creating or preserving species habitat. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Wetlands are some of the most biologically productive natural ecosystems in the world.” Wetlands also provide many recreational benefits as they are enjoyed during activities such as bird watching, fishing and hiking.
A green roof is a rooftop that is covered with planted vegetation, and offer multiple benefits to people, animals and the environment. One of the greatest benefits is that a green roof reduces storm water run-off because it can store a significant amount of rain water in its growing medium. They also provide shade and can keep a building cooler in the summer, as well as added insulation that helps with reduced energy usage for the building. Similar to planted trees in a public park or green space, green roofs also help improve community and social cohesion by offering recreational space for people to use.