Cities Around the World Turn to Seasoned and New Green Infrastructure Techniques

Yale Environment 360, a publication of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, has published a great overview of green infrastructure efforts happening in different cities around the world:  “With Funding Tight, Cities are Turning to Green Infrastructure”.

The article travels from Seattle, where residents can be reimbursed for their rain barrels and are encouraged to disconnect downspouts and use the water for gardens and lawns, to New York City where green infrastructure has been a staple in environmental management for years.

According to the report, “New York City has long preserved watersheds in the Catskills Mountains and Hudson Valley for the city’s drinking water supplies. Since the 1990s, in order to comply with federal regulations, New York City has committed $1.5 billion dollars for protection of the forests that blanket much of the Catskills rather than build and operate a water filtration and purification plant costing $10 billion”.

With multiple years of green infrastructure work under their belts, many cities are finding additional ways to improve their environment. For example, the Puget Sound area of Washington State discovered harmful levels of copper in their water.  Coming from brakes in cars, the copper is washed into streams in the area by rainfall and snowmelt.  The element has  wiped out a salmon species as their sense of smell is damaged by the copper, interfering with their navigation of the waters.  Looking to rectify their copper problem, Puget Sound discovered an already trusted ally in trees, as copper is an essential nutrient for trees, whose roots and hummus can absorb large quantities of the element.

Other cities are discovering completely new approaches to implementing green infrastructure.  In Stuttgart, Germany, residents realized there was a correlation between their heat island effect and polluted air.  Analyzing weather patterns, the city, enacted a plan to restore “wind paths” to encourage breezes from the surrounding hills to naturally clean and air condition the city. That means prohibiting new buildings that block these streams of fresh air, protecting existing green space, and creating open areas.

You can read more about Yale Environment 360’s take on green infrastructure here.

Back in Pennsylvania, a winner was announced for the Soak it Up! Challenge in Philadelphia.  We previously posted an article about the event on our Facebook page.

The winning design is a plan to transform an old warehouse into a stormwater management site complete with green roofs and rain gardens.

Read more about the innovative approach to addressing an entire city block of impervious surface here.

It continues to inspire us to read about cities making the decision to work with green infrastructure and having success.  Do you know of another city with a green infrastructure project that we haven’t discussed?

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