Getting Involved with Green Infrastructure

Bioretention basinRain gardens, bioretention basins, green roofs, and cisterns are popping up everywhere. You see them next to parking lots, on top of new buildings, and in community parks. These and features like them are part of an increasingly popular approach called low impact development (LID).

LID emphasizes the role of natural systems in managing stormwater, and the water is handled as close to its source as possible. As our communities expand and development increases, the amount of runoff produced increases as well. LID features promote the natural movement of water within an ecosystem or watershed. It’s considered a sustainable way to deal with stormwater and reduce the impact of developed areas.

LID principles overlap with another concept called green infrastructure (GI). GI uses natural features that manage water while providing additional benefits. According the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

Unlike single-purpose gray stormwater infrastructure, which uses pipes to dispose of rainwater, green infrastructure uses vegetation and soil to manage rainwater where it falls. By weaving natural processes into the built environment, green infrastructure provides not only storm-water management, but also flood mitigation, air quality management, and much more.

At a time when so much of our infrastructure is in need of replacement or repair and so few communities can foot the bill, we need resilient and affordable solutions that meet many objectives at once. Green infrastructure is one solution.

The proposed federal budget for 2015 increases EPA funding to expand the use of green infrastructure.

Rain garden

In North Carolina, state water quality officials have committed to promoting LID as a voluntary option for developers. State officials are creating tools and guidelines that allow for LID stormwater permitting credit. This gives developers more incentive to use LID practices. Results from this initiative will be shared next week at the 2014 North Carolina LID Summit.

Hoffman Nursery is looking ahead and getting involved. As a sponsor for next week’s Summit, we will be learning from experts in the field and talking to LID practitioners about their projects. We’re also working with several green industry organizations in North Carolina to assess the need for outreach and training on plant-related topics for GI and LID.

Grasses, sedges, and rushes are well-suited for LID and GI features. Because many of these projects are designed to clean stormwater, fertilizers are only applied at initial installation, if at all. Many native grass species thrive without fertilizers and are adaptable to variable soil conditions. And there are native sedges appropriate for all kinds of site conditions.

Green roof

We’ll report back on our experiences at the LID Summit in a future post. If you’re in Raleigh at the Summit, please visit our booth in Ballroom A of the Raleigh Convention Center. We’ll be available during breaks, lunch, or the March 26th social.

For more information or to register for the NC LID Summit, click here. To read more about low impact development and green infrastructure, go to the EPA’s LID page.

Get Current Availability:   Excel Download |PDF Download