Green Infrastructure and Its Benefits

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Green infrastructure is a cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts that provides many community benefits.” Green infrastructure includes components such as green roofs, permeable pavers, rain gardens, bioswales, rain barrels, and plenty more examples.

The alternative to green infrastructure that we’re all accustomed to is gray infrastructure. This infrastructure is designed to transport stormwater away from the built environment and includes components such as pipes and drains. However effective, gray infrastructure allows for more pollution as water runs across impermeable surfaces and picks up contaminants. The water is not able to be absorbed by the ground or plants so it is collected in pipes, gutters, and stormwater drains before being released into a nearby waterbody. This conventional method also negatively affects overall aesthetics and therefore lowers passerby's moods and property values.

Green infrastructure works to reduce and treat stormwater at the source while providing various environmental, social, and economic benefits. When rain falls on permeable surfaces, the precipitation can be effectively absorbed and filtered by soil and plants. This reduces contamination and also feeds into the natural water cycle. The plants involved in green infrastructure also tend to purify the air and partake in carbon capture to slow global warming. Aside from the environmental benefits, the greenery is proven to brighten moods and benefit property values as well.

  Rain barrels outside a home. Photo by RI Water Lady .

Rain barrels outside a home. Photo by RI Water Lady.

Many different types of green infrastructure are able to be implemented at your house to mitigate stormwater while adding value and attractiveness. Rain gardens are an excellent tool for collecting excess stormwater to prevent a house from flooding all while adding beauty. Another option is a rain barrel to collect rainwater for cutting down water bills. The water collected in rain barrels can be used for anything from washing vehicles to watering a garden.

 

The benefits of implementing green infrastructure are evident and have been given priority in many leading cities because of the multiple possibilities and advantages. Most of these examples can even be made on a small scale to improve a household. As the nation begins replacing gray for green infrastructure, we look towards a future with cleaner air and water, and happier people and communities.

 

Marissa Rollman