A recent article delves into why green infrastructure has yet to spread its roots in our communities on a large scale. There is immense potential for communities to benefit from green infrastructure by retrofitting developed areas absent of existing stormwater controls. Retrofitting laneways, rooftops, and property margins can be cost-effective and provide a suite of water retention benefits. Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of incentives for property owners to invest in these green infrastructure retrofits.
The article suggests that scaling green infrastructure is a matter of creating a strong economic business case – identifying and fostering supply and demand. In Vancouver, surrounded by rainforests and deluged with rainfall most days of the year, the public demand for stormwater management has been quite low. Without proper education on the wide-spread benefits of green infrastructure for water retention, purification, and flood prevention, it was easy to ignore green infrastructure proposals. However, in recent years, natural disasters and strong education initiatives have been critical in the development of the City’s newest water management strategy: the 2019 Rain City Strategy. This strategy will involve a variety of green infrastructure to help retain and clean 90% of the city’s rainfall before returning it to waterways.
In the Credit River watershed in Southern Ontario, watershed managers are looking at how they can increase implementation of green infrastructure. Currently there is little to no investment from outside of conservation organizations and local municipalities, and this has led to a cycle of small “pilot projects” that don’t get scaled up, even when they are successful. Credit Valley Conservation Authority has made strides in neighborhood retrofitting, but with better funding systems, entire neighborhoods and regions could benefit from more comprehensive green infrastructure systems.
The article suggests green infrastructure could closely follow the shift LEED accredited building standards experienced in the last few decades. According to World Green Building Trends, over the past 10 years, green building motivators have shifted from altruistic reasons to demand-related and regulation-related reasons. Today, LEED building standards are widely demanded. Hopefully demand and regulation will evolve to increase the value and accessibility of green infrastructure. The hope for the future of green infrastructure is that there will be a similar shift to widely incorporate green infrastructure is as it becomes further integrated into policies and practices. To read the entire article, you can find it here.