The benefits of green infrastructure are numerous, but careful implementation and best practices are needed to ensure its effectiveness as well as good coordination with traditional construction.
Green construction and infrastructure uses vegetation, soils and natural processes to manage water and create healthier urban environments by integrating concepts such as rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavements, green roofs, and constructed wetlands, as well as other techniques.
It is another tool that may be used to complement traditional construction – i.e. an extension of the system. However, like any other tool or component in water treatment, proper design, installation and construction is required for the intended benefit of the components. It’s also critical to understand how green and traditional infrastructure work together so it isn’t a gray versus green, especially when it comes to stormwater management.
In the case of stormwater management, a more sustainable type of infrastructure is used to reduce the demand, stress and strain on the pipes. By controlling stormwater at the source, it reduces stress on the pipes. This leverages the infrastructure and works with nature and provides opportunities for communities to manage stormwater runoff in a visible and aesthetically pleasing manner.
A sustainable parking lot and surrounding area, for example, is composed of bioswale, permeable pavement, etc., and it all must work in unison and be maintained. It’s not just grass, plants and stone that are planted or installed without any follow-up. Unlike a pipe that is put in the ground and the job is finished (except, of course, for maintenance), green construction is well-thought out, designed with a purpose, and it must be maintained,
Green construction will continue to provide opportunities in construction. However, the often high visibility of green infrastructure projects, many of which will take place in front lawns and neighborhoods, will received extra scrutiny from area residents. A professional construction manager/inspector can assure the green project is constructed as intended, providing the great benefits for the community it is designed to serve.