The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched an initiative to promote the use of “green infrastructure” by cities and towns, in an effort to reduce stormwater runoff.
The agency says it will partner with local governments and other bodies in 10 cities that use such environmental tools as green roofs, permeable street materials and increased tree cover to “encourage and support” the cities’ expanded use of such infrastructure.
The 10 cities are: Austin, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Puyallup, Wash.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Washington, D.C. and some neighboring communities.
According to the EPA, stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of polluted stormwater degrade rivers, lakes and aquatic habitats and contribute to downstream flooding, the agency says. Green infrastructure decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems.
In addition to protecting the public’s health by decreasing water pollution, green infrastructure provides many community benefits including increased economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings and increased recreational and green space, the EPA says.
Energy savings are one of the greatest benefits of green infrastructure. For example, green roofs can reduce a building’s energy costs by 10 to 15 percent, and an additional 10 percent of urban tree canopy can provide 5 to 10 percent energy savings from shading and through blocking wind, the agency says. Green infrastructure also conserves energy by reducing the amount of stormwater entering combined collection and treatment systems, which reduces the amount of wastewater processed at treatment plants.
“Through this agenda, we’ll help cities and towns across the nation clean up their waters and strengthen their communities by supporting and expanding green infrastructure,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Green infrastructure changes improve the health of our waters while creating local jobs, saving communities money and making them healthier and more prosperous places to raise a family and start a business.”
A report out at the start of April showed that the square footage of green roofs in the U.S. grew by 28.5 percent in 2010.
Washington, D.C. – one of the EPA’s partner cities in the strategy announced today – is the U.S. city with the second-most green roofing, according to the survey. Chicago topped the poll.
Picture credit: Arlington County