Social and Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure is a practice of utilizing natural systems to convey, filter, clean and cool water, a way in which we can improve the water we all need to survive. Whether recreation, wildlife, a cool tree-lined street, or a roof top garden is a priority, along the way, we’ll make urban areas walkable, livable, safe, less expensive, yet more valuable places to be.

“In the future, we will see bike lanes with streetscapes incorporated into our existing sea asphalt, which will connect green infrastructure to parks, businesses and schools.”

We have removed many of the systems found in nature that maintained the quality and quantity of our water resources. Responsible development and farming practices that reduce soil erosion and recharge ground water while keeping surface water cool and clean, not only can be less expensive than traditional methods, but are vital for every living creature that needs water to survive.

Greening comes in many forms such as:

  • Pervious pavement in playgrounds, roadways, and pedestrian areas; alleviates flooding, cools, cleans and filters water, reduces noise and creates less need for deicing agents such as salt.
  • Infiltration beds can be found under paved areas or ballfields, at a rain water downspout, and streetscape tree pits.
  • Raingardens planted with wet tolerant trees and shrubs not only absorb water in the ground but cool and clean through evapotranspiration and shade.
  • Green roofs and walls cool and clean rooftop water, reduce flooding as well as the cost of heating cooling, and maintenance.

Water authorities battle the rising costs of cleansing the water for consumers, we all have known someone who experienced a flood and have seen our cool, clean rivers turn brown.

The best way to analyze the cost-benefit ratio of green infrastructure installations is to find areas where you can treat the most water, while keeping in mind improved social and economic aspects. Even though it may cost more to implement these facilities in an area that collects the most rainwater, investing a greater amount in areas where more impact could be made socially and economically might make sense. For example, improvements could be made by connecting green multi modal transit projects to public parks, where larger more cost-effective facilities could be put in place.

For more information, visit

Philadelphia Water Department: Green City, Clean Waters

Schuylkill Action Network

Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

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