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Grey or Green?

10 Feb 2020 12:19 PM | Keely Powley (Administrator)

Grey Infrastructure is any human-made water management system (eg. pipes, pumps, drains, water treatment plants, ditches etc…). The goal of Grey Infrastructure is to move water quickly - out of sight, out of mind.

Green Infrastructure is natural water management systems (eg. forests,wetlands, green roofs, gardens, parks etc…). Green Infrastructure moves water more effectively than Grey Infrastructure by collecting it (in stormwater ponds, gardens, wetlands, trees etc…) and slowly releasing it into sewers, lakes or rivers. This approach prevents flooding, cleans the water, and provides natural spaces for people and animals to enjoy. Not only does Green Infrastructure more effectively move water, it also provides communities incredible benefits. 

Here are our top 7 benefits:

1. Climate change: absorption of greenhouse gasses, urban cooling effects, reduced carbon emissions, preventing erosion


2. Stormwater management: reduced flooding and runoff, water absorption and filtering, create a buffer to protect urban areas, improved water quality.


3. Ecosystem health: habitat for a variety of local species, bodies of freshwater, plants that provide food for pollinators, water filtration.


4. Energy: reduced energy consumption (providing shade in the summer, and protection in the winter).


5. Public health: aesthetics of green spaces has been linked to improved mood and focus, reduced symptoms of mental illnesses (eg depression, anxiety, ADHD), increased physical activity, decreased incidence of asthma, buffer from traffic and other city noises, protects the quality of our drinking water, improved air quality, faster recovery, improved child development (motor, and social skills), local food production.


6. Community: green spaces provide a space for individuals and families to interact and build relationships, increased use on common spaces in housing projects.


7. Economics: increased property value by creating a visually appealing property and being near park and open spaces, lower up-front costs, reduced maintenance and extended lifespan, flood prevention resulting in reduced financial impact, new long-term jobs and business opportunities, extended roof lifespan by protecting the roof from radiation, and extreme temperatures.


Nature does it best, so why don’t we invest?

When planning new development, consider living green infrastructure before choosing grey infrastructure. Choose permeable pavement surfaces, build rain gardens with native species, plant more trees, and implement rain harvesting materials such as rain barrels or storm ponds. 


Have a blog topic suggestion? Email us at opa@ontarioparksassociation.ca.


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