Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure consists of natural and built features (trees, bioswales and rain gardens) that provide environmental benefits to a community (reducing flood risk, storing and treating stormwater, reducing the urban heat island effect and filtering air).
 

Done well, green infrastructure can also enhance human health and provide environmental and social benefits through increased economic development, reduced energy use and other functions that communities need.

Benefits of Green Infrastructure

Environmental

Cooler Air: Trees help mitigate the urban heat island effect, making spaces more comfortable and safe for at-risk populations.

Cleaner Water: Almost all green infrastructure features can filter out harmful pollutants such as heavy metals and fertilizers, keeping these hazardous chemicals out of our waterways.

Reduced Flooding: Green infrastructure features such as rain gardens can decrease the likelihood of localized flooding, protecting assets from water damage.

Healthier Air: Green infrastructure elements such as permeable pavement and trees help reduce pollutants in the air, making it safer to breathe.


Social

Creating Safer Spaces: Green infrastructure in urban areas is correlated with decreased narcotics possession in surrounding areas. And planting new trees in an area can help decrease crime levels in the area over time.

Closer Communities: Green infrastructure can offer a space for communities to come together and increases opportunities for socialization, which can lead to increased trust between neighbors.


Economic

More Local Jobs: Green infrastructure planning, development and maintenance helps create jobs for skilled workers. One study showed that three quarters of green infrastructure jobs go to local residents, creating a direct economic investment in the local community.

Cost Savings for Communities: Green infrastructure can be cheaper to build and maintain than traditional gray infrastructure, saving costs on water treatment, energy and more.


Health

More Trees Means Healthier People: Increased tree canopy is associated with all kinds of health benefits for communities, including decreased rates of obesity and obesity-related illnesses. Trees also can help people feel less depressed and anxious and can help improve your memory.

Better Mental Health: Spending time in a place with green features helps people recover from mental fatigue more quickly.

Improved Physical Health: Green infrastructure features that can increase biodiversity in an area can compound the positive health effects of time in nature, including better heart health.

Increased Physical Activity: Green infrastructure features like wetlands and man-made lakes can increase physical activity in an area.


Below are examples of green infrastructure strategies you can find in Springfield, MO.

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Vegetated Filter Strip

A vegetated filter strip is a defined area of vegetation designed to remove pollutants and sediment from stormwater runoff via particle settling, water infiltration, and nutrient uptake.


Retention Basin

Retention basins or ponds are designed with additional storage capacity to attenuate surface runoff during rainfall events. They consist of a permanent pond area with landscaped banks and surroundings to provide additional storage during rainfall events.


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Bioretention (Rain Garden)

Bioretention systems (also called rain gardens) are shallow depressions filled with native plants designed to catch and absorb stormwater runoff from roofs, streets, parking lots, and other areas through the natural processes of plants, microbes, and soil. Water that is caught in a rain garden either infiltrates into the ground, is absorbed by plant roots, evaporates into the air, or is slowly released into the stormwater system through an underdrain.

For additional information on going native, check out the City of Springfield's Native Plant Guide

For additional information on ongoing maintenance of bioretention systems, check out the Bioretention Guide.


Tree Preservation (and Planting)

Tree preservation is the process of protecting trees from damage or removal related to construction activity. Tree preservation provides erosion control and long-term stormwater benefits by intercepting and absorbing rainfall. Trees also increase property values and the marketability of a development. Additional benefits of trees include improved air quality, shading of buildings, and habitat for birds and other wildlife!


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Green Roofs

A green roof is a ‘contained’ vegetated space on top of a complex waterproofing system and human-made structure that is below, above or at grade and can be intensive, semi-intensive or extensive in design. Intensive designs have a soil depth of a foot or more and require irrigation and maintenance, while extensive roofs are self-sustaining in about four to six inches of aggregate and need little to no maintenance. Each green roof is unique and designed to meet multiple objectives and performance goals. 

Downspout Features

This simple practice reroutes rooftop drainage pipes from draining rainwater into the storm sewer to draining it into rain barrels, cisterns, planter boxes, or permeable areas.


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Floating Wetlands

A floating wetland is a man-made aquatic plant habitat, created to mimic a natural wetland ecosystem by providing shade and wildlife cover and by absorbing excess nutrients in the water.


Detention Basins

A detention basin is a commonly used stormwater control measure, designed to reduce the impacts of pollutants in stormwater runoff while simultaneously holding stormwater during heavy rain periods in order to slow the stormwater and minimize the potential for flooding and erosion downstream.

Instead of focusing on the minimum technical design criteria for meeting requirements, seize the opportunity to create detention basins that help create more sustainable, livable, and valuable developments! Basins can be designed to include seating, recreational opportunities, architectural elements, and native plantings that tie the basin to the larger landscape. You can find additional guidance in the City of Denver's Manual.


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