Green Infrastructure in the Built Environment
Green infrastructure is the method of integrating vegetation into the built environment to enhance the building envelope for social, economic, and environmental benefits. This market is growing rapidly as new research and experience show us the tremendous value this practice has to offer when setting a goal for achieving sustainable urban design. The green infrastructure industry came to be when the fields of horticulture, landscape design, and architecture joined forces to address innovative ways to improve our built environments.
What is Green Infrastructure?
Green infrastructure is an innovative solution to many problems found within in high density urban areas. Urban issues such as stormwater management, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, urban heat island effects, energy consumption, and temperature control all have the potential to be solved through various, and specific types of green infrastructure. Additionally, an important problem addressed by green infrastructure – and one that’s an increasing social concern – is the lack of nature infused into our cities and therefore, our daily lives. The integration of vegetation into our built environment adds greenery to our concrete jungle and instills in urban dwellers a sense of serenity and wellbeing.
Green infrastructure also creates economic opportunities through employment,and tax and rebate incentives. Additionally, there are long-term operational cost savings for both the city and the buildings applying green infrastructure models.
Types of Green Infrastructure
Some of the most commonly practiced systems of green infrastructure or building integrated vegetation include:
- Green roofs
- Rainwater harvesting
- Permeable pavement
- Green streets
- Green façades
- Rain gardens
- Vertical gardens and living walls
Each one of these types of green infrastructure installations and systems has their own purpose and unique benefits. They are installed and applied based on the needs of the built environment in question. There are options for a wide variety of climates and structures. The best decision can be made with the help of professional consultants.
As more incentives and rebate options become available through government or private funding we will start to see an increase in the number of green infrastructure projects within our built environment. This is an important step towards creating greener, healthier cities that place value on the harmonizing of nature and urban design.Feature Image: Green Streets – a green infrastructure development model. Image via EPA.