I am always interested in “green” practices as I believe they help make our environments healthier and more enriching, and us happier. This post is a great conversation about what makes urban environments “green.” Is it the street itself? The landscaping? The materials used? The amount of materials?
Originally posted on The Dirt:
There are many ecological technologies that can make a street green, but the key element is being “flexible, adaptable,” said Neil Weinstein, executive director of the Low Impact Development Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the use of green infrastructure in the built environment, at a session organized by the National Building Museum. Weinstein, who is a licensed engineer and landscape architect, was co-chair of an American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) conference on green streets, and, through the LID Center, has been a pioneer in green infrastructure, so his take is worth hearing.
Weinstein said there are lots of different technologies both landscape architects and engineers are using to make streets greener, including deeper street tree pits; compost-amended soils; permeable sidewalks, bikelanes, parking lots, and streets; and bioretention systems, including bioswales. These systems create not only “complete streets” that offer equal access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars, but are also ecological systems that manage stormwater.
More than a decade ago, Weinstein was involved in creating the first green street in Washington, D.C. on 8th street, which features a “permeable structured swale” along the sidewalk. Since then, the green street movement has grown, with some even looking at “green highways” that can offer conservation and ecosystem protections, include recycled or reused materials, and provide “watershed-driven” stormwater management.