Sowing the seeds of green infrastructure

27 September 2010

From protecting local green spaces and designing eco-friendly buildings, through to creating a green space network, there are lots of ways to put green infrastructure into the heart of the places where we live.

Shirecliffe meadow in Sheffield. Copyright Green Estate Ltd

Towns and cities don’t just need traditional built infrastructure like roads and public utilities. They need green infrastructure too – the living network of green spaces and environmental systems that surrounds us.

Green infrastructure should be woven into the core of urban design and planning. Here are some ways that people across England are already doing this.

Creating and protecting local green spaces  

Every park, garden, allotment, woodland, river or waterway is part of our green infrastructure. By looking after these assets everyone can help to make the places where we live green, beautiful and sustainable. This is especially valuable when green spaces and systems are connected with each other, so that they all work together as a functioning ecosystem.

Integrating green infrastructure into building design

Designing buildings with features like green roofs, sustainable drainage systems and spaces filled with trees helps to make green infrastructure an everyday part of our built environment. This can be especially important in densely developed urban areas which have a huge impact on the natural environment, and little open water or green space.

The "green factor" is a landscaping standard for new building developments in the American city of Seattle. People applying for planning permits must show that their building projects score enough points to meet the Green Factor. Different green landscape features are given a score depending on how useful they are to the natural ecosystem. The cumulative impact of lots of individual landscaping projects is helping to create a greener, healthier and more attractive Seattle.

By developing green infrastructure strategies and networks

Green infrastructure strategies consider all the green spaces and water bodies in an area, regardless of ownership, and the whole range of possible uses of them. They provide a powerful vision and strategy for planning, managing and joining up green infrastructure across an area.

Cambridgeshire Green Vision is a long term strategy for the green space network in the county. It helps to coordinate individual green space projects and ensure that green spaces are integrated into new developments. It is helping to maintain high quality of life and protect wildlife in an area of major population growth and new housing.

Newlands green space regeneration programme in north west England is creating a joined-up network of green spaces out of old, derelict industrial sites. It is helping to improve the area’s image, encourage business, raise house prices and reclaim former no-go areas for the community.

More information


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