Green Infrastructure | Why it is Desperately Needed

When I think of infrastructure I think of large concrete structures, roads, or man-made engineering structures. Is ‘green’ infrastructure just these things painted green? The old green washing of our cities and suburbs. I hope not. This term seems like engineer’s are just greening up their structures to make them feel better. And to a certain degree, this is what it is.

However, green infrastructure also serves to provide an ecological framework for social, economic, and environmental health of surroundings.

Due to the intensification of our urban environments, it is critical that we consider the main components including:

Photo of Stoneleigh Reserve Bio-basin

  • stormwater management
  • climate adaptation
  • the reduction of heat stress
  • increasing biodiversity
  • food production
  • better air quality
  • sustainable energy production
  • clean water
  • healthy soils
  • increased quality of life through recreation
  • provision of shade and shelter in and around towns and cities.

We can’t keep on – just keeping on. We need to drastically turn the direction in which we are heading if we wish to preserve the planet for future generations.

We need to think on a macro as well as a micro level for the benefit of our communities.

  • How does my block of land impact on the surrounding neighbourhood?
  • What can I do to contribute to a positive change in my area?
  • How can my development contribute to the neighbouring properties and adjoining community?
  • What can I preserve that already exists that is going to help this cause?

Harder decisions need to be made.

  • Do I need to remove that tree just to get a few extra car parks in?
  • Does my carpark need to be positioned in that manner or can I re-adjust things to save a natural habitat?
  • Does my new industrial shed really need to have a fully exposed facade? Can I plant a significant landscape buffer to screen it?
  • Do I really need that massive frontage sign when people already can’t really miss the development due to it’s size and also already use Google Maps to find their way around anyway?

Native plants should be a given. Plants that attract local fauna. Opportunities for animals to find protection and shelter. Natural food for the local wildlife.

Have I requested significant native tree species for the frontage of the development that will leave a legacy for the community?

Or have I just built a massive development to mark ‘my arrival in a community’ – exposed to the elements, reflecting the sun on a hot summers day, without a tree in sight?

Have I engaged a builder that has true intentions for protecting, rehabilitating and developing the landscape – and not just a ‘fluff up’ at the end of a project when no money is left in the kitty?

What other things can I add to my development to ensure it is designed with the very best natural diversity?

  • Can I redesign my project slightly to save that large tree for the sake of the environment?
  • Can I provide a huge landscape buffer that dramatically shades, screens and softens the built form of my new development?
  • How many existing trees can I retain instead of removing?
  • Can I hide my development with landscape instead of the other way around – hiding the landscape with my development due to it’s scale?
  • Can I use a more environmentally aware Civil Engineer that prioritizes over land flow and water filtration through landscape spaces instead of the same old civil design?
  • Can I actually design a better landscape that the minimum standard the Local Authority is enforcing on my development?
  • What fauna species are in the area where my development is proposed? How do I preserve their habitat better?

Drainage systems throughout towns and cities acting as natural water filtration devices should be mandatory.

More green open space away from busy roads to provide recreational opportunities within easy access from all neighbourhoods.

Sufficient shade to all streets with strong facilities for active transport, instead of large, wide roads for vehicles.

All these things and more all contribute to creating green infrastructure and the landscape provide a foundation for achieving these things.

What can you do to change things drastically?