According to the Environmental Protection Agency, green infrastructure is a cost-effective way of managing stormwater while also providing numerous community benefits. A major cause of poor water quality in urban areas is polluted stormwater runoff. Rainwater from roofs, streets and parking lots is unable to soak into the ground as it would in a natural setting. Stormwater runoff carries trash, garbage, bacteria, and other pollutants from the urban landscape and can cause unhealthy environments, erosion, and flooding from higher flows which damage property and infrastructure.
While the conventional stormwater infrastructure system moves urban stormwater away from built environments, green infrastructure reduces and treats stormwater at its source.
In a natural setting rainfall is absorbed and filtered by soil and plants. Green infrastructure tries to mimic the natural setting by using vegetation, soils, and other elements to restore some of the natural processes.
The City and County of Denver is making green infrastructure a fundamental part of the city’s long-term stormwater management strategy by looking at ways to incorporate large scale green infrastructure and site-scale green infrastructure. This green infrastructure approach will target multiple pollutants while increasing open space, improving air quality, and facilitating connectivity.
Network of parks, open space, floodplains, and constructed facilities that mimic natural systems by using vegetation, soils, and roots to filter stormwater runoff
Stormwater planters, green gutters, and green alleys that slow and treat stormwater runoff before it reaches creeks and rivers.
Benefits of Green Infrastructure
Cities across the nation, as well as the City and County of Denver are using green infrastructure to meet water quality goals and provide more livable communities. While the water quality benefits can be easily estimated there are a number of social, economic, and environmental benefits that are not measurable in a short period of time.
Short Term Benefits
- Improves water quality
- Reduces flood risks
- Improves air quality
- Absorbs local carbon emissions
- Lower traffic speeds
Long Term Benefits
- Reduces energy demands
- Reduces injury crashes
- Enhance community livability
- Reduces urban heat island effect
- Increases social cohesion
- Creates a sense of place/destination