Five Benefits of Green Infrastructure for Your Community

Jacob Rischmiller, PE
,
Water Resources Practice Group Leader
March 31, 2023

Green infrastructure is often thought to only provide water quality, but the ancillary benefits are often overlooked. When looking to the next round of community improvements, cities can reap the following five benefits from implementing green infrastructure solutions.

1. Increase Flood Control

As communities combat aging infrastructure and increasing rainfall intensity, a focus on flood resiliency is more common. The engineering solution in urban areas is often providing additional capacity in the storm system. Though green infrastructure is typically sized to store runoff from smaller events, there are benefits that impact flood control. A common flood control benefit involves designing the inlet system to intercept water flow from the surface and bring it into the storm sewer pipes.

The ability to intercept runoff from the surface and into storm sewer pipes can often be the most challenging component in urban areas. With most of the nation's storm sewers being outdated, these features are much smaller than what is needed to capture today’s larger storms. They may only intercept stormwater at a capacity of a six-month event or less while most design standards today require capacity for a larger 10-year event.

2. Improve Water Quality

By design, green infrastructure's primary objective is to treat stormwater from typical rainfall events. It does this by mimicking the natural hydraulic response of the watershed prior to human impacts, slowing rainwater down and filtering it through various natural media including rock, soil, and sand. Urban pollutants filtered through this process include nitrogen, phosphorous, and particulate matter, which is picked up when stormwater runs through communities. Green infrastructure treatment improves downstream water quality and the health of natural ecosystems—including human life.

3. Maximize Health Benefits

Green infrastructure often incorporates native plantings into designs. Increasing the amount of natural plant features in an urban area can provide a positive impact to the physical and mental health of community members. Some benefits of additional native plantings include improved air quality, increased natural habitat for local wildlife, and added value to social capital and recreational opportunities. A reduction in and surface temperatures, noise levels, and crime are also possible. A study in Atlanta Georgia demonstrated the connection between a green street project and positive health impacts due to a number of environmental, social, and economic benefits.

4. Increase Utility Funding

Most communities utilize a stormwater fee to fund maintenance and improvements to their stormwater system. In polls given to residents in communities that ISG works in, water quality improvements are often ranked as high as flood control improvements. This means that when communities start incorporating water quality improvements into their public improvement projects, residents are often willing to pay higher fees for their utility.

5. Expand Economic Development + Growth

Housing and office tenants prefer to be in environmentally friendly buildings and forward-thinking communities. One example of this is in Des Moines, Iowa, where nine blocks of the Market District is being redeveloped. The theme of the redevelopment is sustainability, with water quality at its focal point. The project will include installation of over 80 bioretention cells that provide water quality treatment for all the future blocks and the public right-of-way. This new and improved living and working area is becoming a reality because the developer recognized that people want to be in areas that are focused on sustainability.

Learn more about ISG’s green infrastructure experience here.

No items found.
Jacob Rischmiller, PE
Water Resources Practice Group Leader
More from
Jacob Rischmiller, PE

Related Articles

Is Mass Timber Right for Your Next Building Project?

ISG recently attended the world’s largest gathering of mass timber experts, the International Mass Timber Conference, gaining new insights from experts in forest management, manufacturing, development, and construction.

Industry Insights

Are you properly protecting your employees from arc flash and shock hazards?

Maintenance, testing, and training have always been important elements of a successful facility electrical safety program, but recent requirements ensure they are being implemented according to a standard.

Culture
Industry Insights

Creating Learning Options for Water/Wastewater Operators

Public works systems are crucial for community well-being and functionality as they contribute to the quality of life for residents. With an in-depth understanding of regulations, environmental conditions, processes, and procedures, ISG aims to develop strategic partnerships with municipalities and deliver right-sized solutions for their unique systems.

Industry Insights

Navigating the MS4 Permit Program: How ISG Supports Communities Every Step of the Way

The management of stormwater runoff is a pressing concern for cities across the nation, and the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit program is a critical framework designed to protect water quality and our natural resources.

Industry Insights

Shared Visions, Shared Spaces: Making Use of Public and Private Partnerships for New Library and Housing Development

New Richmond, Wisconsin is on track to expand its library and housing options through a joint effort of the City, school district, and a private developer.

Industry Insights

Optimize Maintenance + Reveal Opportunities with Facilities Assessments

The Clay County Board of Supervisors (County) knew they needed to address facility repairs in their Administration Building, Courthouse, and General Services Center. While maintaining public buildings does not generate excitement, County leaders recognized that deferring upkeep of public facilities can cost more in the long run if left unaddressed and may result in limiting other more impactful projects.

Industry Insights