Green Infrastructure

Greensulate Builds Green Infrastructure

Simply put, green infrastructure is replacing hard, impervious, visually unappealing surfaces with natural, green materials. The benefits of building green go far beyond improving the quality of life of urban residents and property values. Green infrastructure mimics natural landscapes and by doing so, absorbs stormwater runoff, cools urban islands, saves energy used to cool buildings, cleans local air and water and provides many other benefits.

Greensulate works with architects and building owners to build urban landscapes, green roofs, green walls, urban gardens and many other components of green infrastructure. We’ve been around for a long time and have helped pioneer some of the most innovative, cost-effective and largest green infrastructures nationwide.

The advantages of building green extend beyond the qualitative. Building owners realize huge cost savings in energy use and extended roof life, and reap the benefit of higher property values and tenant health and satisfaction.

The definition of building green also extends beyond the confines of the building to include the site and its environs. Increasingly, city planners are requiring green infrastructure to increase surface permeability, absorb stormwater and contain rainfall, absorb CO2 and clean air, and create greener healthier dense urban areas.

GreenInfrastructure_photosim

The photo above depicts Philadelphia’s vision for its future which includes replacing impervious, concrete surfaces like roads, parking lots and roofs with green stormwater infrastructure including bioswales, green roofs, and planted meridians and parkways.

There are many reasons for converting urban impervious surfaces – like roads, parking lots and rooftops – into planted surfaces. Here are the primary benefits:

Retain and Reuse Stormwater 

Green stormwater infrastructure includes a range of soil-water-plant systems that intercept stormwater, infiltrate a portion of it into the ground, evaporate a portion of it into the air, and in some cases release a portion of it slowly back into the sewer system. (source: phillywatersheds.org)

combined-sewer-system3Many large U.S. cities – such as New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Oakland, and Seattle – have combined sewer systems (CSS).  When these systems were introduced in 1855, they were considered a vast improvement over open ditches. The problem with CSS today is that stormwater and raw sewage share pipes and when stormwater is heavy the system often overflows with untreated polluted water running straight into the nearby river, bay or ocean.

Green infrastructure protects water quality by absorbing the stormwater runoff and preventing overflows. Green infrastructure can help recharge groundwater, and reduce the demand for potable water by reusing rainfall instead of drinking water to irrigate green spaces. To the extent that diverted stormwater enters the sewer system it does so after the height of the rain event. As the climate changes, weather events become more extreme, and the more important this strategy becomes.

Cool Cities and Improve Air Quality

Asphalt absorbs heat in the day and releases it at night, leading to a heat build up in cities that never get a chance to cool down. Green infrastructure cools the air through plant transpiration and allows for greater air movement. Plants also absorb CO2 and particulate matter, cleaning the urban air.

Improve Community Well-Being

Green infrastructure solutions reduce the potential for human exposure to raw sewage, improve water quality, increase green space in dense urban settings, increase recreational opportunities and property values. Studies show that increasing green space in urban areas increases residents’ physical activity.