Green Infrastructure

What is EPA Doing to Support Green Infrastructure?

EPA actively supports the use of green infrastructure to manage wet weather. EPA has released a series of policy memos encouraging the use of green infrastructure to meet regulatory requirements, as well as a series of Strategic Agendas describing the actions the Agency is taking to promote green infrastructure. A central theme of recent Agendas is engaging with local communities through community partnerships and technical assistance programs.

Since 2011, EPA has established partnerships with 10 communities, and has provided technical assistance to more than 20 communities. EPA Regions are key players in all of these efforts, and many offer a wealth of targeted information on their own green infrastructure websites.

On this page:

Strategic Agenda

In October 2013, EPA released the Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda outlining the actions the Agency intends to take to promote its effective implementation.Planning calendar

While the new strategy maintains the focus of previous strategies on information exchange and community engagement, the 2013 Strategic Agenda adds a new focus on making green infrastructure a part of business as usual across different levels of government. The agenda identifies five focus areas that the EPA will pursue to encourage the implementation of green infrastructure:

  1. Federal coordination,
  2. Clean Water Act regulatory support,
  3. Research and information exchange,
  4. Funding and financing, and
  5. Capacity building.

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Community Partnerships

In April 2011, EPA recognized 10 community partners for their commitment to green infrastructure, one in each of EPA’s 10 Regions. EPA coordinated with these partners to highlight effective approaches to implementing green infrastructure and share lessons learned with other interested communities:Business people shaking hands.

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Technical Assistance

Technical drawing and toolsSince 2012, EPA provided technical assistance to communities across the country to support implementation of green infrastructure practices nationwide. Three additional technical assistance projects were initiated prior to 2012. The program focuses on significant technical, regulatory, and institutional barriers to green infrastructure and building community capacity by sharing lessons learned.

For a summary of results from the program see Tools, Strategies and Lessons Learned from EPA Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance Projects.

In 2015, EPA convened charrettes, or intensive planning sessions, in four cities -- Albuquerque, Grand Rapids, Los Angeles and New Orleans -- to explore ways in which green infrastucture could help cities become more resilient to climate change. A summary document, Green Infrastructure and Climate Change: Collaborating to Improve Community Resiliency, outlines how each city identified issues and recommended solutions by following the same four concepts: identify benefits; collaborate across city agencies; unify solutions across disciplines; and achieve efficiencies in project implementation.

2014 Technical Assistance Program

EPA selected 14 communities to receive $860,000 in technical assistance in 2014. The focus of the program is advancing adoption of green infrastructure in the communities, while developing knowledge and tools for a national audience. The selected communities are receiving assistance for projects related to:

  • community resiliency,
  • brownfield redevelopment,
  • operations and maintenance,
  • off-site mitigation, and
  • green infrastructure design.
Bath, Maine
Partner: City of Bath
Summary: EPA assistance helped produce a feasibility study and conceptual design for a green infrastructure project to mitigate flooding and combined sewer overflows (CSOs) while stabilizing and improving the neighborhood.

Willow Street Green Infrastructure Design

Fall River, Massachusetts
Partner: City of Fall River
Summary: EPA assistance helped with evaluating and developing a concept design of tree filters to address CSOs, stormwater, air quality, urban heat island, and adaptation to climate change.

Green Infrastructure Implementation in Fall River, Massachusetts

Buffalo, New York
Partner: Buffalo Sewer Authority
Summary: Through this technical assistance project, EPA assisted the Buffalo Sewer Authority in developing a method to systematically assess the effectiveness of vacant land in urban areas to retain stormwater runoff. 

 Buffalo NY Urban Vacant Land Assessement Protocol

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Partner: Scranton Sewer Authority
Summary: EPA assistance will help incorporate green infrastructure under the city’s CSO long-term control plan into a comprehensive master plan for a newly developing arts district.
 
Norfolk, Virginia
Partner: Friends of Norfolk’s Environment
Summary: EPA identified green infrastructure alternatives for a low-lying coastal area subject to sea-level rise.
 
Clarkesville, Georgia
Partner: City of Clarkesville
Summary: EPA developed this report to help the city implement green infrastructure solutions for a highly impervious downtown area in a small community currently with no permitting requirements for municipal separate storm sewer systems.

Clarkesville Green Infrastructure Implementation Strategy

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Partner: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Summary: EPA worked with the utility to develop this holistic business plan for the operation and maintenance of green infrastructure. It is a model for other utilities to ensure that practices are properly maintained and effective in reducing stormwater runoff.

Elements of a Green Infrastructure Maintenance Business Plan

Saint Paul, Minnesota
Partner: City of Saint Paul
Summary: EPA worked with Saint Paul to produce this feasibility study for a waterfront stormwater park in a vacant industrial area undergoing redevelopment.

West Side Flats Greenway Conceptual Green Infrastructure Design

Pueblo de Cochiti, New Mexico
Partner: Pueblo de Cochiti
Summary: EPA assistance helped develop a green stormwater infrastructure plan that integrates green infrastructure into land use planning, stormwater management, infrastructure improvements, transportation planning, and open space for community members.

Pueblo de Cochiti Green Infrastructure Concept Design

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Partner: Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority
Summary: EPA assisted with developing design elements to capture stormwater and reuse it on-site. Following a charrette held in June 2014, stakeholders decided to focus the design on the use of a cistern. Detailed designs were developed using climate data, an evaluation of irrigation demand, and typical cistern operating conditions to calculate the appropriate cistern size.

Imperial Building Site Design-Albuquerque

Iowa City, Iowa
Partner: City of Iowa City
Summary: EPA assisted with developing conceptual designs for green infrastructure practices for a riverfront property prone to flooding that is being converted into park space.

Towards a Resilient Future: Restoration of Ralston Creek Within Riverfront Crossings Park 

Denver, Colorado
Partner: City and County of Denver
Summary: EPA assisted with development of tools to streamline review, approval and implementation of green infrastructure practices for the City and County of Denver, CO. 

Green Checklists and Renderings

Santa Monica, California
Partner: City of Santa Monica
Summary: EPA worked with Santa Monica to develop a conceptual design for a 100,000-gallon storage tank that the city will use to harvest stormwater from a storm drain system, reducing runoff and replacing potable water used to irrigate parkland.

Building Resilience to Drought in Ozone Park

Ada County, Idaho
Partner: Ada County Highway District
Summary: EPA worked with the district to explore off-site stormwater mitigation techniques, concepts, and financing options to support green infrastructure in an area undergoing redevelopment.

Fairview Avenue Green Street Conceptual Design 


2013 Technical Assistance Program

EPA selected five communities in 2013 to receive targeted technical assistance to support the expanded use of green infrastructure. The selected communities received a total of $400,000 for projects addressing the selection and design of green infrastructure at a range of scales, in a range of urban contexts, and in a range of climates.

Detroit, Michigan
Partner: Southeast Michigan Council of Governments
Summary:  EPA assisted with developing a framework to determine the role green infrastructure can play in working towards meeting water quality standards in southeast Michigan and in protecting western Lake Erie. The project used a regionalized, outcome-based strategic planning approach for green infrastructure targeting based on local ambient monitoring, land use, and impervious cover information. 

Green Infrastructure Targeting in Southeast Michigan

Lincoln, Nebraska
Partner: City of Lincoln
Summary: EPA assistance helped develop design guidance and a menu of green infrastructure options for the Antelope Creek Watershed Basin Management Plan. The plan is focused on improving water quality in a highly urbanized creek in the center of the city.

Lincoln Urban Pollutant Reduction Strategies

Gary, Indiana
Partner: Gary Stormwater Management District
Summary: EPA assistance helped engage the community and  develop strategies to meet water quality goals through retrofitting underutilized parcels with green infrastructure. 

Conceptual Green Infrastructure Design and Community Engagement in Gary, Indiana

Pima County, Arizona
Partner: Pima County Regional Flood Control District
Summary:  EPA supported development of an online manual for green infrastructure/low impact development site assessment, planning, and design process and site planning practices.

Green Infrastructure Tools for Arid and Semiarid Regions

Spartanburg, South Carolina
Partner: City of Spartanburg
Summary: EPA worked with Spartanburg on this report, which presents findings that can be applied to the Northside neighborhood and to similar redevelopment projects, demonstrating how green infrastructure can support and enhance infill, mixed-use development.

Northside Neighborhood Green Infrastructure Master Plan


2012 Technical Assistance Program

EPA selected 17 communities in 16 states in 2012 to receive targeted technical assistance to advance green infrastructure implementation. The communities were provided a total of $950,000 for projects including code review, green infrastructure design, and cost-benefit assessments. As each project is completed, EPA will develop a report documenting key findings and lessons learned.

Barnstable, Massachusetts
Partner: Cape Cod Commission
Summary: EPA assisted with identifying and designing cost-effective green infrastructure projects to help restore nitrogen-impacted estuaries. The projects are located in environmental justice communities.

Nitrogen-reducing Green Infrastructure in Environmental Justice Communities 

Franklin, Massachusetts
Partner: Town of Franklin
Summary: EPA worked with Franklin on this report, which is intended to help the town develop a comprehensive strategy for implementing green infrastructure through practices, programs, and policies. It summarizes the town’s existing efforts, provides recommendations for improving existing programs and policies, and proposes new approaches for incorporating green infrastructure.

Green Infrastructure Implementation Strategy for the Town of Franklin, Massachusetts

Sanford, Maine
Partner: Town of Sanford
Summary: EPA assisted with redesigning a former mill complex that drains to the Mousam River in order to revitalize the river as a recreational, ecological, and economic asset.

Conceptual Green Infrastructure Design for Washington Street, City of Sanford

Camden, New Jersey
Partner: Cooper’s Ferry Partnership

Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Camden, New Jersey  EPA worked with the partnership on this report, which presents findings from EPA’s review of regulations and standards relevant to stormwater best management practices within Camden. The report identifies opportunities to minimize impervious cover and promote environmentally sensitive site design during development and redevelopment activities. It also identifies potential barriers to implementing structural green infrastructure practices.

City of Camden Green Infrastructure Design Handbook EPA and the partnership created this handbook to provide residents, builders, city and county staff, and other interested groups with practical information on integrating green infrastructure practices within Camden. The handbook also demonstrates how particular practices can be implemented within new development and retrofit projects

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Partner: Pittsburgh UNITED and 3 Rivers Wet Weather
Summary: The City of Pittsburgh and its partner, 3 Rivers Wet Weather, identified sites in three neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh community for analysis and conceptual design of green infrastructure features for the following sites: Frick Museum in Point Breeze, Sussex Avenue in Brookline and Windermere Drive in Swisshelm Park. A report has been prepared for each site. In addition to the reports, EPA and its partners produced a document of topic fact sheets and four white papers.

City of Pittsburgh Conceptual Green Infrastructure Designs for Swisshelm Park, Point Breeze, and Brookline Neighborhoods

Fact Sheet Series and White Papers on Space Constraints, Steep Slopes, Abundant and Frequent Rainfall and Clay Soils

Atlanta, Georgia
Partner: City of Atlanta
Summary: EPA developed a green infrastructure conceptual plan for a portion of Boone Boulevard in Atlanta. The goals of the project were to contribute to the revitalization of a distressed neighborhood and reduce flooding and CSOs. The conceptual design and project prioritization provide a site-specific green street design that complements the city's concept for this transportation corridor and could be integrated with several planned roadway improvements.

Boone Boulevard Green Infrastructure Conceptual Design 

Beaufort, South Carolina
Partner: City of Beaufort
Summary: Green infrastructure can address several community goals in the historic Northwest Quadrant of Beaufort, including preserving the historic character of the neighborhood, providing community open space, and meeting water quality goals in the Beaufort River and marsh. This report describes two green infrastructure conceptual designs developed to meet these goals at two different scales.

Block-Scale Green Infrastructure Design for the Historic Northwest Quadrant, City of Beaufort

Holland, Michigan
Partner: Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
Summary: This report describes the findings of a set of green infrastructure code reviews conducted for five partner agencies operating in the Macatawa Watershed: City of Holland, City of Zeeland, Ottawa County Drain Commissioner, Ottawa County Road Commission, and Allegan County Drain Commissioner. The report demonstrates the application of the Water Quality Scorecard, summarizes the findings of the five code assessments, and highlights the importance of involving multiple jurisdictions in the code assessment process.

Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in the Macatawa Watershed, Michigan 

La Crosse, Wisconsin
Partner: City of La Crosse
Summary: This report demonstrates the potential for green streets to significantly reduce localized flooding and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Using Green Infrastructure to Mitigate Flooding in La Crosse, WI

Dallas, Texas
Partner: City of Dallas
Summary: EPA conducted a code review and charrette in Dallas to identify current practices that either support or present barriers to green infrastructure. This report presents key findings as well as a summary of action items that the city could implement.

Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Dallas, Texas

Omaha, Nebraska
Partner: City of Omaha
Summary: EPA assisted Omaha with developing tools and guidance to help identify opportunities for cost-effective green infrastructure and ensure that green infrastructure is built properly.

Support Process Development for Assessing Green Infrastructure in Omaha, NE

Neosho, Missouri
Partner: City of Neosho

Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Neosho, Missouri Technical assistance included a code review and a design handbook. The code review identifies regulatory updates needed to encourage green infrastructure implementation and to comply with Missouri's small MS4 general permit. 

City of Neosho Green Infrastructure Design Handbook The design handbook provides a primer on some of the green infrastructure techniques available to the city of Neosho; andp resents two conceptual designs to demonstrate the application of those techniques.

Denver, Colorado
Partner: Urban Land Conservancy
Summary: The Blake Street transit-oriented development site is a 1.44-acre blighted infill site located a few miles north of downtown Denver and directly across the street from a planned transit station. This report describes how green infrastructure can be integrated into the Blake site, and provides a model for the integration of green infrastructure approaches into compact, transit-oriented development projects.

Conceptual Green Infrastructure Design for the Blake Street Transit-Oriented Development Site, City of Denver

Phoenix, Arizona
Partner: City of Phoenix
Summary:  EPA assisted the city of Phoenix with examining the compatibility of green infrastructure practices with zoning and development codes in an arid urban environment. This report identifies provisions in Phoenix’s plans, policies, and codes that either support or present barriers to green infrastructure. It also recommends code changes that can address barriers and strengthen opportunities for implementing green infrastructure.

Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Phoenix, Arizona

Los Angeles, California
Partner: The Council for Watershed Health
Summary: This report describes green infrastructure barriers and opportunities in the greater Los Angeles region identified by conducting a comprehensive analysis of state and regional regulations, programs, and policies. In addition, the report describes how green infrastructure can meet the goals and requirements of multiple state and regional regulations and analyzes provisions that might complicate green infrastructure implementation.

Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in the Greater Los Angeles Region

Portland, Oregon
Partner: City of Portland
Summary: The Zidell site is one of the largest brownfield remediation and redevelopment sites in Portland, and offers a unique opportunity to identify comprehensive green infrastructure solutions for a brownfield redevelopment project. This report describes three alternative green infrastructure scenarios for the Zidell site, applying three distinct approaches to integrating green infrastructure into site design.

District-Scale Green Infrastructure Scenarios for the Zidell Development Site, City of Portland 

Seattle, Washington
Partner: City of Seattle
Summary: Seattle requested assistance in assessing the environmental benefits associated with the city's extensive network of green infrastructure to improve modeling tools and cost comparison methodologies.

Expanding the Benefits of Seattle's Green Stormwater Infrastructure 


Earlier Technical Assistance Projects

The Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure: A Case Study of Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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