About Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is an integral part of a sustainable stormwater management system that mimics natural ecosystem processes and services. Utilizing both natural and engineered systems, a comprehensive GSI program can minimize and clean stormwater runoff, increase groundwater recharge, conserve ecosystem functions, and provide a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife.

GSI can be implemented on differing scales ranging from site-level installations to broader, watershed-level efforts. On the local scale, GSI practices include rain gardens, permeable pavements, green roofs, infiltration planters, trees and tree boxes, and rainwater harvesting systems. At the largest scale, the protection and restoration of natural landscapes (such as forests, floodplains, and wetlands) provide additional benefits to the larger GSI program.

Many perception barriers remain to the extensive use of GSI across the nation. A summary of these barriers and ways to overcome them can be found at this EPA site: https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/overcoming-barriers-green-infrastructure.

A recent survey by American Society for Landscape Architects (2011) reported that the use of green infrastructure resulted in project costs that were less or the same than gray solutions in nearly 75 percent of the projects. That and a whole host of socio-environmental-economic benefits associated with green stormwater infrastructure have resulted in an increased focus on its use. A summary of benefits can be found at this EPA site: https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/benefits-green-infrastructure

Rethinking the urban landscape: A short film commissioned by the Landscape Institute