Benefits of a Green Street
Small to mid-sized communities are in search of ways to boost their local economies in conjunction with protecting water resources through integrated planning and the design and construction of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs). Building green infrastructure projects helps to address three important issues that communities face:
- creating jobs
- building livable communities
- sustaining a healthy environment
A green street provides multiple environmental, social, and economic benefits to communities. These benefits are realized by the entire community: individuals, families, local businesses, local governments, and schools. Compared to traditional "gray" streets, green streets are more attractive, increase the safety and walkability of a community, and encourage and support the local economy.
Benefits of a Green Street Include:
- Enhanced community livability and safety. A community's livability takes into consideration both the built and natural environment, pedestrian and bicycle access, social stability and equity, economic prosperity, and the availability of recreational spaces. The more livable a community, the higher the quality of life.
- Increased property values and decreased infrastructure costs (e.g., sewer piping)
- Increased habitat and biodiversity
- Healthier communities leading to lower healthcare costs through improved air and water quality
- Economic prosperity and growth by supporting and enhancing local and small businesses
- Reduced urban "heat island" effect
- Decreased energy costs from renewable energy sources (e.g., solar power)
- Increased publicly available green and recreation space
- Job creation (traditional and green jobs)
The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits (PDF)(80 pp, 16.3 K, About PDF) developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and American Rivers provides more in depth information about each of the benefits highlighted above.
Research Supporting the Benefits of Green Infrastructure
An increasing number of studies suggest that green infrastructure can have a positive impact on human health. A built environment that incorporates natural elements such as trees, gardens, parks, open space, and natural areas (e.g., wetlands), is profoundly important for the health of body and mind. Recent research has linked the presence green space to reduced levels of inner-city crime and violence, a stronger sense of community, improved academic performance, and even reductions in the symptoms associated with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.
The website Green Cities: Good Health provides an overview of the scientific evidence of human health and well-being benefits provided by urban forestry and urban greening. Green Cities: Good Health also provides a collection of more than 2,800 scholarly works, most of which are peer reviewed. The research findings are sorted and summarized across benefits themes that include healing, safety, and community building.
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) featured an article entitled "Water and Wellness: Green Infrastructure for Health Co-Benefits" that highlights the growing evidence about the importance of integrating nature into cities and towns.
To learn more about the benefits of green infrastructure, visit EPA's "Benefits of Green Infrastructure" page.