Using natural systems to meet environmental challenges in urban, rural and coastal settings
What is green infrastructure?
Green infrastructure is a nature-based approach that uses a combination of engineering and nature's own systems to address environmental challenges like erosion, flooding, and air and water pollution. Plants and soils naturally filter pollutants out of water and air, and absorb rain and stormwater to reduce flooding and runoff after storms. Plants also lock their roots into the soil, preventing erosion, and absorb nutrients that can be carried off of land.
Green infrastructure-- including rain gardens, green roofs, living shorelines, and others-- maximizes on these services that nature already provides through strategic placement, protection, and development.
Green Infrastructure Primer
The Green Infrastructure Primer developed by the DNREC Divison of Energy and Climate provides an introduction to green infrastructure projects and their benefits, as well as information on selecting, building, and maintaining them. These webpages provide an overview of the benefits of green infrastructure, an introduction to site scale and landscape scale projects, and a complete list of resources. Access a full, digital copy of the Primer here, or call the Division at 302-735-3480 to request a print copy.
Benefits of green infrastructure
- Provide flood retention during high tides or heavy rainfall events
- Filter pollutants out of water and air
- Moderate high temperatures by shading buildings and waterways
- Provide and protect new and existing habitats through the planting of native flowers, trees, and shrubs
- Provide for infiltration of water into soil, replenishing groundwater
- Capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in plant tissues and soil, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere
- Increase public health by filtering out dust, soot, and particulate matter for cleaner air
- Add aethestic value to storefronts and public spaces, encouraging business and visitors
- Proactive approach to preventing storm damage, saving communities money
Green Infrastructure Legacy in Delaware
Green Infrastructure is essential to protecting Delaware's citizens, economy, and vibrant natural resources. Green infrastructure is an investment in our state's future. Governor Markell's Executive Order 41 directs state agencies to prioritize natural systems and green infrastructure as strategic tools for building Delaware's resiliency in the face of climate change. Delaware's focus on using natural systems to balance development and environmental stewardship extends back to former Governor Ruth Ann Minner's "Livable Delaware" initiative.The initiative emphasized that it is easier and more cost-effective to protect natural resources and processes than to restore them after they are damaged.
The state of Delaware supports green infrastructure projects at the site and landscape scales. At the site scale, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has tools, resources, and knowledgeable staff committed to working with municipalities, individuals, and commercial property owners to create and maintain green infrastructure. At the landscape scale, inter-departmental efforts work to preserve natural spaces and protect native plants and animals, as well as water, air, and land resources, incorporating ecological assessment and environmental values into state planning and land use decisions.
For more information on green infrastructure and how you can get involved, please consult the Green Infrastructure Primer and the Resources section of this website.