Advancing Green Infrastructure
by Seema Wadia
The idea of using green infrastructure to help with urban stormwater management is now well-established. Green Infrastructure (GI) refers to stormwater management practices that can absorb and store rainwater where it falls. Promoted as a best management practice to reduce polluted stormwater runoff into our waterways and drinking water sources, GI can also reduce the burden on traditional stormwater systems.
Towns across the country are grappling with stormwater management problems, and GI can provide added capacity to existing systems to reduce the risk of flooding, especially at the neighborhood and site levels. Common GI projects include rain gardens, porous pavements, rain barrels, and green roofs. Critical to the success of GI as a stormwater management strategy is the participation of private property owners.
To this end, counties and municipalities are trying incentive programs to encourage homeowners, businesses, and institutions to install GI projects on their sites. Common incentive programs are development incentives, grants, rebates and installation financing, and awards and recognition programs. While evaluation of on-the-ground projects is ongoing; educational, outreach and technical assistance strategies are emerging as important tools for successful incentive programs and robust participation.
Hands on technical assistance: Montgomery County’s (Maryland) RainScapes Rewards program started specialized trainings for landscape professionals to promote widespread adoption of GI, and the program saw a significant increase in participation as a result. The Conservation Foundation’s Conservation@Home and Conservation@Work includes onsite visits and education for site design and a certification for property owners that meet recognition criteria.
Education and outreach: Seattle’s RainWise program has regular outreach events such as contractor fairs and orientation workshops to promote participation. Others have created and disseminated how-to guides for property owners, such as Atlanta’s Green Infrastructure for Small Commercial Development detailed design guide.
Ultimately, incorporating innovative outreach strategies and partnerships will create touch points for potential participants to receive the information they need to consider joining any type of incentive program.
Glen Ellyn, IL
526 Crescent Boulevard, Suite 314
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
17 N. State Street, Suite 440
Chicago, IL 60602
Crown Point, IN
128 S. East Street, #115
Crown Point, IN 46307