With rapid global population growth and increasing urban and suburban density, green spaces are sometimes seen as a luxury. However, high-performing green spaces, or green infrastructure, provides real economic, ecological, and social benefits. Integrating green infrastructure into the built environment must be a priority.
Green infrastructure can be considered a conceptual framework for understanding the “valuable services nature provides the human environment.” At the regional or national levels, interconnected networks of park systems and wildlife corridors preserve ecological function, manage water, provide wildlife habitat, and create a balance between built and natural environments.
At the urban level, urban forestry and other means are central to reducing energy usage costs, managing stormwater, and creating clean, temperate air.
Transportation networks can become green, with the addition of artful bioretention systems.
Lastly, green roofs, walls, and other techniques within or on buildings bring a range of benefits, including reduced energy consumption and dramatically decreased stormwater runoff. At all scales, green infrastructure provides real ecological, economic, and social benefits.
The benefits of green infrastructure are numerous. From the broadest environment benefits to site-specific ones, green infrastructure is an effective and cost-efficient tool for absorbing and sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide (C02); filtering air and water pollutants; stabilizing soil to prevent or reduce erosion; providing wildlife habitat; decreasing solar heat gain; lowering the public cost of stormwater management infrastructure and providing flood control; and reducing energy usage through passive heating and cooling.
Green infrastructure is crucial to combating climate change, creating healthy built environments, and improving quality of life.