Professional Practice

Green Infrastructure: Overview

With rapid global population growth and increasing urban and suburban density, green spaces are sometimes seen as a luxury. However, high-performing green spaces, or green infrastructure, provides real economic, ecological, and social benefits. Integrating green infrastructure into the built environment must be a priority.

Green infrastructure can be considered a conceptual framework for understanding the "valuable services nature provides the human environment." At the regional or national levels, interconnected networks of park systems and wildlife corridors preserve ecological function, manage water, provide wildlife habitat, and create a balance between built and natural environments.

At the urban level, urban forestry and other means are central to reducing energy usage costs, managing stormwater, and creating clean, temperate air.

Transportation networks can become green, with the addition of artful bioretention systems.

Lastly, green roofs, walls, and other techniques within or on buildings bring a range of benefits, including reduced energy consumption and dramatically decreased stormwater runoff. At all scales, green infrastructure provides real ecological, economic, and social benefits.

The benefits of green infrastructure are numerous. From the broadest environment benefits to site-specific ones, green infrastructure is an effective and cost-efficient tool for absorbing and sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide (C02); filtering air and water pollutants; stabilizing soil to prevent or reduce erosion; providing wildlife habitat; decreasing solar heat gain; lowering the public cost of stormwater management infrastructure and providing flood control; and reducing energy usage through passive heating and cooling.

Green infrastructure is crucial to combating climate change, creating healthy built environments, and improving quality of life.


American Rivers

Center for Neighborhood Technology

The Conservation Fund 

The Earth Institute – Columbia University

Green Infrastructure Center

Green Infrastructure Foundation

Landscape Architecture Foundation

National Association of Clean Water Agencies

Natural Resources Defense Council

Natural England

The Nature Conservancy

Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition

World Resources Institute


Green Infrastructure, The Conservation Fund

Green Infrastructure, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

"Green Infrastructure: A Landscape Approach," The Dirt blog 

Green Infrastructure Wiki 

Green Infrastructure Strategies, Land Policy Institute

Interview with Congresswoman Donna Edwards on Green Infrastructure, ASLA

Interview with Nina-Marie Lister, Affiliate ASLA, on Ecological Urbanism, ASLA

Landscape Performance Series, Landscape Architecture Foundation

Nine Ways to Make Green Infrastructure Work, Regional Plan Association

Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES)

Government Resources

Environmental Protection Agency: Green Infrastructure

European Commission: Green Infrastructure

Infraestructura Verde -  Green Infrastructure Plan for Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Compañía de Parques Nacionales de Puerto Rico

NYC Green Infrastructure Plan

Philadelphia Green Infrastructure Plan


Overview - the regenerationASLA 2011 Honor Award. The Regeneration / Yongsan Park, Seoul, South Korea. / Image credit: UnitedLAB, Seoul, South Korea and Isaac Brown Ecology Studio, Los Angeles.

“Green Infrastructure: Sustainable Solutions in 11 Cities Across the United States,” Columbia Water Center – The Earth Institute, Columbia University, 2014

“Water and Wellness: Green Infrastructure for Health Co-Benefits,” Water Environment Federation Stormwater Report - April 2014

“Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States,” World Resources Institute, 2013 

“Reducing Climate Risks with Natural Infrastructure,” The Nature Conservancy, 2013

"The Case for Green Infrastructure: Joint-Industry White Paper," The Nature Conservancy with Dow, Swiss Re, Shell, and Unilever Companies, 2013

"Neighborhood Scale Quantification of Ecosystem Goods and Services," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2013 

“Creating Value Through Ecosystem Service Management in Urban and Suburban Landscapes,” World Resources Institute,  2013 

“Banking on Green: A Look at How Green Infrastructure Can Save Municipalities Money and Provide Economic Benefits Community-wide,” ASLA, 2013

"Case Studies Analyzing the Economic Benefits of Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure Programs," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2013

“Microeconomic Evidence for the Benefits of Investment in the Environment – review,” Natural England, 2012

“Integrating Grey and Green Infrastructure to Improve the Health and Well-being of Urban Populations,” USDA Forest Service, New York University, University of Buffalo, 2012

“Rooftops to Rivers II: Green Strategies for Controlling Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows,” Natural Resources Defense Council, 2011 [2013 update]

 “The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation," The Center for Clean Air Policy, February 2011

"Green, Clean, and Dollar-smart: Ecosystem Restoration in Cities and Countryside," Environmental Defense Fund, 2010

"The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental, and Social Benefits," Center for Neighborhood Technology and American Rivers, 2010

"Green Infrastructure Data Quantification & Assessment," Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2009

Role of the Landscape Architect

Overview - mountainASLA 2012 Honor Award. Red Mountain / Green Ribbon — The Master Plan for Red Mountain Park, Birmingham, Alabama / Image credit: WRT, Philadelphia

Landscape architects plan, design, and implement green infrastructure at all scales. Landscape architects work with policymakers, planners, architects, engineers, ecologists, scientists, and  horticulturalists to implement best practices for green infrastructure systems and designs, ensuring these systems deliver benefits to both natural wildlife and human communities.

Landscape architects are involved in regional master planning, conservation and restoration efforts, urban design, and park and green roof design and construction. At all scales, they bring a critical eye for social and artistic value to the design process. 


Open Space Seattle 2100 Envisioning Seattle's Green Infrastructure for the Next Century, Seattle, Washington (Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington, and the Open Space Seattle 2100 Coalition)

Coastal Roulette: Planning Resilient Communities for Galveston Bay, Galveston Bay, TX (SWA Group)

George Washington Regional Commission: Regional Green Infrastructure Plan, Planning District 16, Virginia.

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