Green infrastructure

Green infrastructure is the living network of green spaces, water and environmental systems in, around and beyond urban areas.

It includes trees, parks, gardens, road verges, allotments, cemeteries, woodlands, rivers, wetlands and coastal habitats.

Green infrastructure delivers critical environmental services. Most grey infrastructure – such as roads or sewers – has a single function. Green infrastructure, by contrast, is multifunctional. It offers us a working landscape and a sustainable alternative to traditional engineering. Green infrastructure:

  • protects against flooding: living roofs, large trees and soft landscape areas absorb heavy rainfall; a network of street swales and unculverted rivers can safely manage large volumes of water
  • stores and recycles water for summer irrigation
  • saves energy: living roofs insulate buildings, and large trees shade offices which reduces the need for air conditioning
  • cleans and cools the air, water and soil
  • provides green spaces to encourage exercise and socialising
  • provides a place with character and a strong identity
  • allows us to access nature, and feel part of it
  • improves the image of a place, boosts property prices and attracts investment.

Green infrastructure is often neglected. But by protecting local green spaces, integrating green infrastructure into the design of buildings and places or planning a green space network, we can weave it into the core of the places where we live.

More about green infrastructure


Green infrastructure advice

Browse our advice about green infrastructure planning and management.

Green infrastructure examples

Examples of good practice in green infrastructure.

Green infrastructure leadership for local authorities

Local authorities have a crucial role in improving the green infrastructure network.

Green infrastructure policy

Planning policy and guidance can be used to embed green infrastructure in regional spatial strategies and local development frameworks.

Green infrastructure benefits

Improving green infrastructure is a way of getting more out our natural environment, making it a hugely efficient and valuable asset.

CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield