Going Green: Green infrastructure
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This may look like an ordinary road and parking lot construction project but it's not. It's being built with green infrastructure.
“We're putting in a rain garden as part of the soil-water management strategy. We're putting in underground storage tanks to minimize the impact of storm water runoff from our buildings and off of the parking lot,” said Timothy Toland, ESF Assistant Professor Landscape Architecture.
Landscape architect Tim Toland says they're also going to use porous paving on the parking area to help reduce the storm water runoff reaching area waterways and overwhelming wastewater treatment systems.
“A lot of cities across the country, particularly in the northeast, put in a combined sewer overflow system rather than putting a lot of pipes in the ground and that was fine then but increased development has produced more impervious surfaces, faster runoff and the systems aren't designed to accommodate these higher flows,” said Toland.
The result is untreated wastewater or pollutants getting into rivers and lakes.
Green infrastructure is designed to minimize the runoff. Rain and melting snow will seep through the porous pavement and into the ground or be caught in the rain garden. Overflow will be trapped in the storage tanks and released slowly when the storm event is over. This will be more expensive upfront but less expensive than a new water treatment plant.
“So you have to balance these cost issues when you're talking about green infrastructure. Yes there are some additional costs directly related to them (green infrastructure) but there are other costs related to maintenance and management that are reduced because of them,” said Toland.
The green infrastructure planning process requires a little bit more up front due diligence to execute it properly but the payoff down the line should be increased.
More and more municipalities are requiring green infrastructure.