Green Infrastructure

Hands holding trees to be planted
What is Green Infrastructure?
The definition of Green Infrastructure according to the Ohio EPA is "The use of vegetation, soil, and natural processes to manage water and create healthier urban environments". What this means is using natural resources to collect rainwater, runoff and other precipitation in order to cycle it back into the ground. The process not only helps to clean the water, but also to control stormwater runoff. 
Making A Change
In the world today going green is becoming a major factor in how we build and improve cities. There are a lot of major cities not only in the U.S. but in countries around the world that are taking big steps to become as green as they can.
  1. North America
  2. South America
  3. Europe
  4. Asia+
Portland, Oregon- Since 1903 Portland has been inspiring cities to embrace green space. Becoming a leader in mixing urban and outdoor spaces, the city demolished a 6-lane highway to develop a waterfront park and can boast about their 92,000 total acres of green space. In addition to the extensive acreage, the city has 74 miles of biking, hiking, and running trails. They have also established an urban-growth boundary protecting 25 million acres of forests and farms.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania- In 2013 the City of Philly was granted the first EPA-approved green infrastructure plan. One of the projections for the plan was that it could absorb and eliminate ~1.5 billion pounds carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking 3,400 cars off the road. Economic benefits would include; property values that would increase by $390 million in 45 years and the creation of 250 local green jobs. The new plan was based on the "green acre" concept (one green acre=one inch of managed stormwater from one acre of impervious drainage area or 27,158 gallons of stormwater).

New York City, New York-The City of New York made the first step in 2010 to go green by unveiling the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan. Goals for this plan are to reduce combined sewer overflow(CSO) volume by 3.8 billion gallons per year, capture rainfall from 10 percent of impervious surfaces in CSO areas through green infrastructure and other source controls, and provide substantial sustainability benefits (i.e. cooling the city, reducing energy use, increasing property values and cleaning the air).

Vancouver, Canada- Named the most livable city by Economist Magazine, Vancouver is a world leader in hydroelectric energy which makes up 90% of its own power supply. The greenhouse gas levels are 20% lower than reported in 1990, and recently introduced solar powered trash compactors are able to hold five times more waste while being the size of a normal trash can. 


Child holding a cattail
Get the Kids Involved
One of the major ways we can help the environment is by passing down the passion for saving the environment. Giving the next generation an understanding of why the planet is so important and the improvements we can make to help it last is going to be a huge step towards making a difference. Below are a few options on getting kids interested and involved in the "green" movement

If you have a technology friendly child then consider taking a look at this site. Pinterest is a sharing website where people can create "pins" and share them with the rest of the world. There are numerous categories that users can peruse through or use of the search bar for more specific finds is an option. It's a great site if you're looking for project ideas and Do-It-Yourself instructions, and users can filter searches based on age or project degree of difficulty. Weather you want to start off with something simple like a flower box, or windowsill garden to blueprints for rain barrels if you're looking for something more advanced. Bonus: for parents it's very user friendly!

Weather it's before bed, during down time, car trips, or just for fun, reading to your kids can spark a lifelong love of learning. Visiting your local library is one of the best ways to introduce the idea of green infrastructure and "going green". Kids and parents can find numerous books on the topic of environment with the ability to locate them based on age range. 

Being hands on is also a good way for kids to learn. Volunteering for activities like community clean-up days, boy scout/girl scout community service projects, 

Environmental groups are always looking for volunteers to help with data collection. This is an easy way to learn the procedures that go into keeping natural spaces healthy. Teachers, you can sign-up for environmental workshops offered by Ohio EPA to learn fun and educational ways to teach students about the environment. These workshops cover a range of topics from wetlands to animals and everything in between.

Family Trips/Events
Walking, biking, running, picnics, all can be enjoyed in local parks. They are also a good tool for teaching. Try making a game out of identifying flowers, trees, animals, etc. Knowing what makes up the area can lead to solutions for preserving it. 

Attending celebrations that deal with the environment can also be a good starting point for learning. Earth Day, Arbor Day, World Environment Day, and National Green Week are among numerous days that bring awareness to better the planet. 
Museums and other natural/environmental resources can be found in every state and just about every major city. These are just a few of the places here in Ohio;
     Columbus: COSI
                         Columbus City Metro-parks
                         Franklin Park Conservatory
     Cleveland: Museum of Natural History
                         Great Lakes Science Center
                         Cleveland Botanical Garden
     Cincinnati: Museum Center
                             -Union Terminal
                             -Cincinnati History Museum
                             -Duke Energy Children's Museum
                             -Museum of Natural History & Science