Tag:

green infrastructure

    WHAT IS GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE, REALLY: “Cities are increasingly incorporating ideas for ‘green infrastructure’ into their planning, but what they mean by that can be unclear and inconsistent within and across cities,” wrote Maria Rachal, editor of Smart Cities Dive, in her article about recently published findings from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (January 2022)


    City planners often fail to clearly define “green infrastructure,” although they tend to favor hydrological or stormwater concepts in such projects, according to a study by the New York-based Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. The report calls for a clearer and more comprehensive definition as part of a larger project assessing equity in cities’ ecological services. The empirical study is the first of its kind. It is part of a multiyear project assessing green infrastructure’s role as “a universal good.”

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    TOWARD A MORE INCLUSIVE DEFINITION OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE: “Green infrastructure is broadly understood to be a good thing, but many city plans lack a clear definition of what it actually is. Hydrological definitions dominate. This narrow view can cause cities to miss out on vital social and ecological services that more integrative green infrastructure can provide,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, lead author of a nationwide analysis of GI plans from 20 American cities (January 2022)


    “City planning often fails to explicitly define “green infrastructure” (GI), but when it does, stormwater concepts of GI are much more prevalent than landscape or integrative concepts. Types of GI vary widely and significantly, and often exclude parks and larger urban green spaces in favor of smaller engineered facilities. Functions of GI are primarily hydrological, although more functional diversity is provided by landscape and integrative definitions of GI. Stormwater concepts appear to engage in greenwashing by purportedly offering the greatest number of benefits,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski.

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    RAIN GARDEN INNOVATION: “Delta implemented an integrated design team with Sarah Howie as the landscape architect, a design engineer and drafting staff to work with local stream keepers. Engineering operations staff provided in-field installation and implementation expertise,” stated Hugh Fraser, retired Deputy Director of Engineering, City of Delta


    Shared responsibility is a foundation piece for Delta’s rain garden program. “Everyone in the process, students, designers, managers and constructors, must understand and care about the big-picture goal. This requires an ongoing educational process that instills an ethic. This is a team effort. Nothing would have happened without all working together and continuing to work together. Creating a watershed health legacy will ultimately depend on how well we are able to achieve rain water management improvements on both public and private sides of a watershed,” stated Hugh Fraser.

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    BC’S GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE PARTNERSHIP: “You can trust these people. Their only goal is to turn you on to the practical reality that designing with nature – particularly water – is underway, is working, and holds out hope for communities and cities to function better,” stated (former) West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones when she facilitated a presentation to elected representatives on the Metro Vancouver Sustainable Region Initiative Task Force (October 2006)


    “I was asked by members of the Green Infrastructure Partnership to help them support local leaders throughout BC, so that we – the politicians – can champion the idea that designing with nature, particularly with regard to how water flows, has everything to do with achieving a built environment that is truly sustainable. As the leaders appointed to design the Sustainable Region Initiative, we view you as critical partners in affecting positive change with regard to infrastructure design in the region,” stated Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones.

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    NEW REPORT: “The science is clear— natural infrastructure can provide significant, quantifiable levels of protection for communities from natural hazards, and is often more cost-effective than structural infrastructure,” said Jessie Ritter, Director of Water Resources and Coastal Policy, US National Wildlife Federation (released June 2020)


    The report titled Protective Value of Nature summarizes the latest science on the effectiveness of natural infrastructure in lowering the risks to communities from weather – and climate-related hazards – benefits often described as natural defenses. “The use of natural infrastructure for hazard risk reduction has not reached its full potential. This is due, in part, to perceptions that conventionally engineered approaches are always more effective – despite numerous instances when they have failed,” stated Jessica Ritter.

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    RENATURING CITIES: “The public realm must increasingly be where we get the benefits of nature. This has historically been a ‘blind spot’ for city planners, urban designers and engineers,” stated Thami Croeser, spatial analyst at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and part of an international project team advising the European Union on planning for urban greening


    “As cities have developed, we’ve been focused on transport, housing, industry and infrastructure – nature has been an afterthought, as cities get a handful of parks and street trees at best. In the process, we have often produced very grey urban environments that get hot, flood easily and are unattractive and unhealthy to spend time in. We have a lot of retrofitting ahead of us, especially as the climate becomes more extreme. The good news is the nature-based solutions (NBS) industry is maturing and there are more and more ways to help our cities go green,” stated Thami Croeser.

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    GREEN SPACE AND HUMAN HEALTH: “Urban greening is emerging as a key part of the solution to some of our major health and environmental challenges,” stated Sara Barron, lead author for a collaborative effort by Australian, Canadian and American researchers


    “Cities around the world are facing major challenges. Industrialised nations are experiencing epidemics of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and dementia, and it would be all too easy to give up hope of finding solutions. But there is positive news,” said Dr. Sara Barron. “A growing body of research reveals that spending time outdoors in and around trees, parks and gardens can boost our physical and mental health and help prevent a wide range of diseases.”

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    INCORPORATING GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE INTO OUR CITIES: “How can we move from viewing green infrastructure in terms of ‘nice to have’ extras, to putting green infrastructure at the center of how we value and invest in the infrastructure we need for vibrant, resilient cities?” – a question posed by Jan Cassin, Water Initiative Director, Forest Trends Foundation (July 2019)


    “Green infrastructure reduces risks to gray infrastructure from hazards such as flooding and wildfire. It improves the performance and reduces the costs of operating gray water infrastructure when the two are integrated. In some cases, green infrastructure can be a more cost-effective alternative than gray. No one is currently bothering to grade our green infrastructure, yet keeping this infrastructure healthy is important to everyone in the US,” stated Jan Cassin.

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