Viewing communities from above would reveal a network of green between the gray infrastructures of the streets, buildings, and parking lots. This green is referred to as green infrastructure (GI). Associating greenspace with infrastructure implies that it is a basic requirement to support a community. By considering greenspace as part of the community’s infrastructure, it becomes part of a network of interconnected systems requiring a budget for regular maintenance, development, and improvement.
Overall, GI strategies actively seek to understand, leverage, and value the different ecological, social, and economic functions provided by natural systems. Doing so guides efficient, sustainable land use and development patterns, and protects natural ecosystems.
Most Vermont communities have village greens, parks, street trees, town forests, and open space, which were originally conceived to provide the community with amenities. These amenities were established without considering their provided ecological services or their role in forming a networked infrastructure. Viewed as green infrastructure, urban and community forests can improve quality of life in Vermont’s cities, towns, and villages. This is ensured through comprehensive planning that connects, conserves, manages, and enhances the natural resources within green infrastructure. Explore the following resources to learn more about the value of green infrastructure and planning for it.
The Vermont Green Streets Guide provides direction on planning, design, and maintenance of common urban road and parking lot conditions throughout the state.
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's Green Infrastructure webpage has useful links for homeowners, businesses, and municipalities to guide stormwater management.
Green Infrastructure is a topic paper in Vermont's Land Use Planning Manual that provides an overview of green infrastructure and local implementation in Vermont.
Tree Canopy Assessments provides a top down approach to plan for protection and improvements of green infrastructure.
The Green Infrastructure Name Game
In recent years green infrastructure has also been defined as, mostly notably by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a stormwater management strategy that uses or mimics natural processes. To help avoid confusion of the various GI definitions and related terms, Vermont's Green Infrastructure Roundtable provides the following definitions for use in Vermont:
Green Infrastructure is a wide range of multi-functional, natural, and semi-natural landscape elements located within, around, and between developed areas at all spatial scales. This includes everything from forests and meadows to wetlands, floodplains, and riparian areas.
Low Impact Development (LID)
Low Impact Development (LID) is an innovative land planning and design approach which seeks to maintain a site’s pre-development, ecological, and hydrological function through the protection, enhancement, or mimicry of natural processes. There are many reasons to use LID, but stormwater management is typically the primary use.
Learn more about Low Impact Development in Vermont.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI)
Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) are systems and practices that restore and maintain natural hydrologic processes in order to reduce the volume and water quality impacts of the built environment while providing multiple societal benefits: trees are the ultimate GSI.
Learn more about Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Vermont.