Leafy roofs, gutters that allow water to drain into sewer systems to prevent flooding, and special materials used to optimise the energy efficiency inside the building – unbeknownst to most, green infrastructure is used more often than you might think.
However, many companies and people alike may not understand the importance of green infrastructure in the midst of climate change and an economy that must adjust accordingly to the current effects of global warming.
In this article, we’ll explain what green infrastructure is, the benefits of green infrastructure, and how the use of green infrastructure could ultimately benefit economic endeavors.
What is green infrastructure?
Green infrastructure is a construction method aimed to improve building design to ultimately protect the surrounding ecosystem and environment. Usually, green infrastructure makes use of natural or semi-natural elements – such as green roofs, permeable pavements, or nearby parks.
Ultimately, the point of green infrastructure is to improve living conditions for those who dwell in the surrounding areas of the building while also addressing the need for greater sustainability.
Here are some common examples of green infrastructure:
Green Roofs: Whenever you see a building covered in plants, leaves, or vegetation – it’s no accident, as this is one of the most well-known and accessible ways to implement green infrastructure. The excess greenery can help to absorb heat, make buildings cooler on the inside, and even improve the way stormwater runoff works.
Permeable Pavements: Most of the time, our driveways are built with impermeable concrete – which means that rainwater will be unable to absorb into the ground. However, permeable pavements can help that stormwater to be absorbed and reduce surface runoff – making it another popular form of green infrastructure.
Urban Planting: Man-made parks may seem trivial and trite, but they do have a purpose that extends beyond aesthetics – as additional trees, flowers, and plants can help to absorb excess carbon dioxide and ultimately provide better air quality.
Public Gardens: Local areas for people, such as those in apartment buildings, to grow and harvest their own food can not only be a fulfilling hobby – but help raise awareness on the importance and benefits of gardening.
👉 Green infrastructure is not only an investment for a company, but it can help to stimulate the economy as it will improve overall health and safety for humans in addition to various wildlife.
Ultimately, green infrastructure is an indispensable mechanism to implement sustainability in our ordinary lives – such as in the places we live and work with urban planning, construction, and building development.
Why is green infrastructure important?
Daily life is changing as we know it – with increased paranoia for heat waves, snow storms, and natural disasters of all kinds, it’s natural for us to want to find ways to protect ourselves from the potential side-effects of these climate change induced weather events.
Evidently, green infrastructure is one of the best ways we can implement these necessary precautionary measures in the places we live and work – or where we spend most of our time.
Green infrastructure is important as it helps to mitigate major effects of climate change.
Specific examples of how green infrastructure can help to avoid the negative impacts of global warming include:
Helping to properly drain water, improve water management, and avoid water pollution;
Protects against flooding that could damage infrastructure;
Enables greater climate resiliency for buildings that are located in regions more prone to natural disasters – such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes.
Mimics the natural process of systems that would otherwise function normally if it weren’t for climate change – such as air purification, stormwater management, and temperature regulation.
👉 Without green infrastructure, we would struggle to modify our buildings to align with the needs of existing construction projects today – as it helps to mitigate the potential harmful effects of stormwater at the source while also aiding the progression of other environmental, social, and economic goals in existing buildings.
What are the benefits of green infrastructure?
There are a wide variety of benefits to the use of green infrastructure, many of which will not only help the planet – but could also help your business or your individual quality of life.
Here are a few reasons why green infrastructure can prove useful in terms of the environment:
Prevent Urban Heat Islands – Cities buried in concrete that absorb excess heat easily such as Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles often end up using excess air conditioning to compensate for extreme temperature. However, the use of green infrastructure could decrease the need for air conditioning – ultimately lowering electricity bills and reducing energy consumption.
Pollution – Green infrastructure can help to mitigate air and water pollution through vegetation absorption and stormwater management, as the latter mimics the natural water cycle.
Flooding – Improved management of stormwater runoff can help to mitigate flooding and the financial consequences often ensued by floods.
Conserves Biodiversity & Ecosystems – New plants, trees, and shrubs being planted can help create new habitats and ensure the vitality of various ecosystems and wildlife.
Unbeknownst to most, green infrastructure can also benefit our professional and personal lives.
Green infrastructure is often successful in killing two birds with one stone – such as by:
Cross-Benefits: Green infrastructure improves air pollution, water management, and can even result in reduced energy bills all while boosting your employee’s mood and productivity levels.
Works with Existing Gray Infrastructure: Green infrastructure can be added onto existing infrastructure, often referred to as gray infrastructure – ultimately making green infrastructure accessible and a viable opportunity for all businesses or homeowners looking to implement sustainability within their property.
Promotes the Importance of Sustainability: Oftentimes, we are inspired by the places we visit to improve our own homes or office spaces – which means if your office or home has incorporated the use of green infrastructure, odds are it will eventually inspire someone else to do the same. This creates a ripple effect of continued improvements upon energy efficiency, emission reductions, and conservation of natural resources.
Greater Climate Resilience: With all of the natural disasters we experience today, it’s understandable why so many people struggle with eco-anxiety – but green infrastructure can lessen this issue by allowing new and existing buildings to be more capable against the effects of natural disasters like floods and heat waves.
Aesthetically Pleasing: Numerous studies have shown that office workers are likely to feel less stressed and be more productive if they are surrounded by plants where they work. Therefore, flowers and greenery aren’t only nice to look at or help absorb excess carbon dioxide emissions – but they can lower your employee’s blood pressure, too.
Improved Quality of Life & Mental Health: Green infrastructure can provide a “safe haven” at work for those who suffer from anxiety or other mental health issues – as plants and vegetation can help encourage mental-at-ease.
👉 However, the overarching benefit of green infrastructure is that it works to improve the functionality of paramount management systems – such as with water and air, all while still boosting mental health.
Overall, there are far more benefits than cons to green infrastructure – as it is a safe and cost-effective way to enhance quality of life while also addressing current environmental issues.
How does green infrastructure relate to economic growth?
Similar to carbon accounting, ESG reporting, and green investments – green infrastructure can have not only a positive impact on the environment, but also your business. This is because green infrastructure is affordable but effective to implement sustainability.
Think of the difference between when you see a sterile building on the street versus when you see one covered in leafy vegetation. The building that has incorporated the use of green infrastructure is likely to catch your attention, and for good reason – as the office covered in vegetation will often be a building more concerned with climate change as a whole and be able to provide more benefits that seek to reform the current environmental circumstances.
Many companies are often plagued by the thought of trying to implement company or even office-wide sustainability, but the answer is simple – anyone overwhelmed by the concept of more sustainable efforts should opt for green infrastructure.
In fact, green infrastructure is more common than you might think it is – especially in major cities such as New York.
How could green infrastructure boost the economy?
Green infrastructure can have a profound impact on the economy.
Here are just some of the ways that green infrastructure can benefit economic ventures:
Creation of New Jobs: Buildings with green infrastructure aren’t planned overnight – there need to be architects and construction workers that put in the time and effort towards the final, more environmentally friendly building. As a result, new green jobs such as urban planning and design may open up and benefit the local economy.
Better Property Values: Buying a home is a serious investment, one that requires more prior research before committing to a down payment as a result of climate change – seeing as it is paramount to understand how a property’s value could diminish over time. Therefore, buildings that do implement the use of green infrastructure could see an increase in property value – as the benefits of living in buildings like these are likely to rise in demand in the coming years.
Increased Income via Tourism: Implementing green infrastructure in hotels and popular tourist attractions may encourage visitors and residents alike to get out more – which would boost the local economy, such as when people spend money at restaurants, sports games, or other recreational activities.
Energy Efficiency: As many countries in the world make an attempt to shift to a clean energy economy, common mechanisms used in green infrastructure like green roofs could help to reduce utility bills and promote greater energy efficiency. This proves useful for the economy, especially in capitalist countries like the United States – as businesses and homeowners would have money to spend elsewhere.
Reduced Healthcare Costs: These days, people are both mentally and physically impacted from the effects of climate change – from heat exhaustion spurring depression or air quality infiltrating weakened lungs. Green infrastructure can help to prevent these health circumstances and decrease the need for people to pay these bills, allowing for other expenditures and a boost to the economy.
Resilience and Disaster Mitigation: Places like Hawaii have been the most recent victims of this general predicament – which is the need to pay millions or even billions of repair costs after a natural disaster. This massive bill can be avoided with the use of green infrastructure, as it can increase the climate resiliency of a building and make it more immune to the effects of extreme weather events that could deteriorate the building.
Attract New Customers & Investors: People are more mindful of their purchases these days, with the majority of customers seeking sustainable products – and regions with well-designed green infrastructure can attract businesses seeking environmentally friendly and sustainable locations. This can lead to increased investments and job opportunities in these areas.
Less Environmental Liabilities: Even when there aren’t numerous natural disasters, many companies are now required to help with environmental liabilities – such as the costs for clean-up after oil spills or other contaminating substances. Green infrastructure can help prevent the need for these surprise expenses by helping to mitigate these pollution clean ups in the first place.
Overall, making use of green infrastructure is a great way to help both the planet and your company’s economic prosperity at the same time – all while elevating your office space’s interior and exterior design and attracting new people to your business.
What about Greenly?
If reading this article on the economic overview of green infrastructure has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!
It can be difficult to identify which types of green infrastructure could prove most beneficial for your company in the midst of climate change, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help! Click here to book a demo and get personalised expertise on how you can start to reduce your own emissions and decrease your environmental impact.
Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.
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