Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI)—also known as low-impact development (LID)—refers to constructed features that use living systems to provide environmental services, such as capturing and filtering stormwater, creating wildlife habitat, providing shade, and recharging groundwater.
Why use green stormwater infrastructure?
A growing number of communities are using GSI to manage stormwater more sustainably while realizing many additional benefits and services.
Cleaning stormwater: Healthy soils, plant roots, and organic matter filter and break down pollutants in stormwater.
Water conservation: Using stormwater to support trees and shrubs greens neighborhood streets without increasing demand for water from non-renewable supplies.
Traffic calming and livability: Chicanes, medians, traffic circles, and right-of-way improvements help create neighborhood streets that are safe and inviting for people walking and biking.
Aesthetics and wildlife: Native and low-water-use plants thrive on stormwater and create beautiful landscapes, habitat for native birds and insects, and a sense of place that celebrates each community’s unique ecosystem.
Shade: Removing asphalt and concrete and planting trees provides cooling shade along neighborhood streets, which mitigates the urban heat island effect (the measurable temperature increase in urban areas with high proportions of heat-trapping and heat-radiating surfaces).
Increased property values: The Arbor Day Foundation has proven that homes and neighborhoods with trees have higher property values.
Community building: A more attractive, safe, and comfortable outdoor environment that uses affordable, integrated stormwater irrigation increases the use of public spaces and makes them more inviting for neighbors to gather.
Common green stormwater infrastructure strategies
Rain gardens that capture stormwater in rights-of-way, streets, and parking lots (often utilizing curb cuts or cores)
Downspout disconnection and rain gardens on residential properties to harvest rainwater
Removal or reduction of hardscapes, such as concrete and asphalt
Restoration of riparian buffers, greenways, and wildlife corridors
Creation of neighborhood mini-parks, featuring rain gardens and native landscaping
All of these approaches follow the basic water-harvesting tenet of Slow it, Spread it, Sink it. By capturing water where it falls and using it to grow native trees and plants, stormwater becomes a resource rather than a nuisance.
Learn how you can green your neighborhood streets
Visit our online Resource Library for manuals, videos, and other resources about green infrastructure
Learn hands-on design, installation, and maintenance strategies for GSI practices with WMG’s Technical Trainings
Contact us to plan and implement GSI practices for your neighborhood, school, business, or home