Sustainable Urban Design: Educator’s Toolkit for Project-Based Learning, page 3 of 20

A photo of a person running in a wooded area
Green spaces abound at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York © Kevin Arnold

Introduction: Why Use Green Infrastructure?

Using green infrastructure in urban design has several environmental benefits. Projects like rain gardens, tree planting, and native plant gardens can be easily undertaken by schools and community members. These solutions can support the environment by

  • Mitigating the urban heat island effect. Planting trees increases shade and green roofs can lower building energy demands.
  • Managing and filtering stormwater and urban runoff, which prevents costly and damaging pollution in our rivers, lakes, and bays and reduces flooding.
  • Improving/creating habitat and increasing biodiversity.

The benefits of green infrastructure are not limited to the environment. It benefits the economy and communities by creating healthy and enjoyable urban spaces where people can connect with nature and have access to clean air and water. Additionally, green recreation spaces not only increase property values, they also reduce noise pollution and have significant physical and mental health benefits for children and adults.

Lastly, green infrastructure can be a first line of defense in creating communities that are resilient to the effects of climate change. By harnessing the power of nature, instead of working against it, communities can protect coastal areas, reduce flooding impacts, prepare for drought, and create cooler spaces in light of warming temperatures.

An infographic showing how cities can be redesigned to function like forests
© Erika Simek Sloniker/TNC

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