Manufacturer of Boiler & Cooling Water Treatment Chemicals

Green infrastructure: Back to basics

Published on 9 Aug 2016 Written by Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Industry

The “Emerald Necklace” park network in Massachusetts is a perfect example of how to build green infrastructure in an urban area.

“Imagine this design assignment: Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, makes complex sugars and foods, changes colors with the seasons, and self-replicates.” —William McDonough, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Any technology that satisfied this design assignment would amaze us. We would praise it as the latest and greatest advancement toward a sustainable future. Fortunately for us, this assignment has already been satisfied. This quote refers, quite simply, to a tree. We often talk about new discoveries and technologies when we talk about climate action.

A prime example of this is the Emerald Necklace in Massachusetts, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The Emerald Necklace is a linear network of parks and open spaces connecting Boston to Brookline. It is praised for giving city dwellers a chance to enjoy a connection to nature, and of course, for its aesthetic beauty.

Green infrastructure basics and benefits

Green infrastructure is any practice that uses or replicates natural systems to achieve a desired outcome. This includes green roofsbioswales and rain gardens. Green roofs replicate meadows to retain water and restore habitats on the top of buildings. Green infrastructure does not exclusively mean vegetation. Permeable surfaces are considered green infrastructure as well, because they handle rainfall the same way natural landscapes do. Green infrastructure looks to nature for advice, restoring and replicating ecological systems to create human benefits.

Green infrastructure helps solve city challenges:

When it’s hot, we can rely on green infrastructure to reduce the urban heat island. Plants absorb solar energy for photosynthesis and provide cooling through evapotranspiration. Vegetation can also shade buildings and nearby surfaces, which decreases the demand for cooling.

When it rains, we can retain and infiltrate water where it falls with green infrastructure. The retained rainfall infiltrates the ground, increasing the groundwater supply. This reduces runoff, which limits the pollution of waterways and prevents combined sewer overflows.

When we need a dose of nature, we can seek out green infrastructure projects that remediate unused urban areas. These spaces provide habitats for native species, as well as relaxation and recreation opportunities for people.

When greenhouse gas emissions are high, we can sequester emissions with green infrastructure. Plant matter and soil media use and store carbon dioxide. Green infrastructure improves energy efficiency and reduces cooling loads, driving down emissions created by energy production.



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LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.