Green infrastructure helps make our homes, neighborhoods, businesses, and communities healthier and more environmentally-friendly! From permeable surfaces to rain gardens, these proven strategies can reduce flooding, capture pollution, support pollinators, and so much more. Whether you’re a hobby gardener or a city planner, you can use green practices to make a difference.
Pictured: A bioswale outside Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams. Photo: Rucel Martinez
What is green infrastructure?
“Green infrastructure” refers to a set of planning and design practices that aim to meet both economic and environmental sustainability goals. These strategies are an alternative to traditional “gray infrastructure,” which relies heavily on man-made materials, impermeable surfaces like concrete and asphalt, and underground stormwater management systems. When stormwater falls on those impermeable surfaces, much of it runs off onto the surrounding landscape and into local waterways, carrying pollution with it. And when underground stormwater management systems can’t cope with heavy rain, flooding occurs.
Green infrastructure relies on plant and soil systems, permeable surfaces, and techniques like stormwater harvest and reuse. While gray infrastructure disrupts the water cycle, green infrastructure uses natural materials and processes to mimic the water cycle and manage rainwater effectively.