Working together to keep today's treasures for tomorrow slide image Protecting the natural heritage of this diverse estuary slide image Promoting water quality and land preservation slide image Supporting a rich ecosystem for our local economy and quality of life slide image Managing our natural resources through consensus building slide image

News and Resources

Green infrastructure helps environment and wallets - November 19, 2012

After the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy, much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic needs to repair and rebuild the infrastructure damaged by rain, wind and waves. As we begin repairing the structures and buildings damaged by the super storm, we need to think about ways to mitigate or reduce the potential for future natural disasters to prevent the kind of catastrophic problems facing much of the populations New York and New Jersey. One possible way to avoid the damage and heartbreak caused by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, is to use green infrastructure. Green infrastructure has the ability to greatly reduce damage from flooding and intense rainfall.

Green infrastructure is a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly building practice that emphasizes using vegetation, soil and the natural hydrology to manage rainwater, mitigate flooding and support a sustainable community. Unlike certain green technologies, such as wind power, green infrastructure can be used regardless of the area; it has worked well in urban areas as big as New York City to less developed rural areas.

There are more benefits from green infrastructure than just flood mitigation and stormwater abatement, although those are the biggest factors in reducing damage from storms and natural disasters. Green infrastructure also helps reduce sewer overflows, lessens pollutant loads added to our waterways, treats storm water, reduces municipal water use and helps recharge the groundwater. These benefits will become increasingly important as fresh water supplies continue to dwindle into the future.

Green infrastructure, as the name implies, encourages the use of vegetation in new and even existing developments. This can be as simple as adding a rain garden, creating gardens on building roofs or even creating planned parks and forests for future use. All this extra plant life helps to reduce greenhouse gases, creates habitat for wildlife and humans to enjoy and can even help reduce heat reflected from pavements and buildings. Also, rain gardens, roof gardens and parks enhance the aesthetics of the areas and promote outdoor activity and service learning projects for kids and adults alike.
 
While many opponents to green technology cite a lack of research or additional costs as reasons why they should not be used, green infrastructure has none of these problems. Unlike some green technologies that require years of service before becoming profitable, green infrastructure can lessen development costs immediately; a reduction in costs for site grading, paving and landscaping along with an elimination of piping, curbs and drains all save developers money. Green infrastructure also helps reduce the amount of energy necessary to move drinking and waste water and can divert rainwater to be used for outdoor irrigation and indoor use, which saves money for local governments and citizens. There are many cases of successful instillations of Low Impact Development (LID) and green infrastructure around the U.S.

This economically and ecologically efficient method of developing crucial infrastructure has been, and continues to be, used locally on the Eastern Shore. In 2008, Berlin started the Grow Berlin Green campaign in partnership with the Assateague Coastal Trust, the Lower Shore Land Trust and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program to promote environmental protection and conservation along with smart growth via green infrastructure and planning. Thus far they have had annual clean up and recycling days, installed numerous rain barrels to collect and store stormwater for future use, helped local schools create garden clubs to encourage student outdoor participation, and planted rain gardens at numerous local areas such as Stephen Decatur Park and Germantown Heritage center.

“Our land conservation work ensures that the green infrastructure hubs and corridors are protected and restored where possible,” said Kate Patton from the Lower Shore Land Trust, “We work with the community to make connections that link people to the outdoors through recreational opportunities that foster a stewardship and appreciation of our natural resources.”

The National Park Service at Assateague Island National Seashore is also a local champion of green infrastructure use. “Movable facilities are a must for an ever changing island,” said Nick Clemons, park ranger at Assateague Island National Seashore.

These infrastructures include portable lifeguard stands, romtec restrooms, and sheds in both the Maryland and Virginia districts. The National Park Service also has other green infrastructure as well; some of the items include having a rain barrel for equipment cleaning and French drains at the Maryland visitor center and the parking lot itself slope to the wetlands west of the Verrizano bridge for stormwater abatement. Geothermal wells at the Maryland visitor center and solar panels on the island are also in place to reduce their carbon footprint and help save money on energy.

 

To view article click here

Archived News

More Archived News
View Current News

U.S EPA News Region 3

Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program