The social, economic and environmental benefits of Green Infrastructure (GI)

My interest in Green Infrastructure (GI) (see my three previous posts) in an urban context is in the potential to revalue places differently. That this should be a concern from (combined) social, economic and environmental perspectives. The need to revalue places differently by incorporating the multiple benefits GI brings, is an issue at all levels, for place-making and regeneration professionals, and also crucially at community level.

Many people don’t realise that green space where they live is vital to biodiversity (and pollination and therefore food production), flood alleviation (affecting their risk of flooding) or soil quality in the UK is crucial for food production etc. Even their garden or a grass verge can have positive GI benefits on where they live.

Here’s a slightly reworked set of benefits presented by Tom Armour (Landscape Architect Arup) at the recent TCPA GI conference:

GI BenefitsI very much liked Tom’s description of GI as high performance infrastructure.

He presented on a Green and Blue (water) Infrastructure focussed Climate Change Adaption plan for Madrid, outlining the potential for positive GI impacts across the city.

Arup GI #2

Arup GI #3

For more information on this Madrid Plan go to:

I’ve been thinking about where we live and work as a balanced patchwork of interconnected elements; grey buildings, road surfaces etc, green (as in GI, including blue which is water-focussed) that all contribute to one system; our places and neighbourhoods. We need to be more explicit about what GI can do for individuals, communities, businesses, institutions and systems.

More GI is needed in every area, especially those which are very grey. Also, green space itself isn’t necessarily multi-functional GI, such as a grass verge. However, with some commitment and energy positive GI impacts can be retrofitted, so that for example biodiversity can be encouraged with different planting, or a managed mowing plan.

Overall, we need more GI in our urban areas, for example green rooves, vertical green walls, green planting under tramlines/railway verges (esp. where electrified) or replacing a few roadside parking bays with a pocket park(let) – this changes would benefit us triple-fold; environmentally, socially and economically.


About waymarkingthesketchbook

Sarah Spanton is director of arts organisation Waymarking -
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