Green infrastructure is strategically planned and managed networks of natural lands, working landscapes and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide associated benefits to human populations.
Green infrastructure is strategically planned and managed networks of natural lands, working landscapes and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide associated benefits to human populations.Additional elements and functions can then be added to the network, depending on the desires and needs of the designers – working lands, trails and other recreational features, cultural and historic sites. These all can be incorporated into green infrastructure networks that contribute to the health and quality of life for America’s communities.
The Strategic Approach to Land Conservation
Just as we must address haphazard development, we must also address haphazard conservation – conservation activities that are reactive, site-specific, narrowly focused, or not well integrated with other efforts. Just as we need smart growth to strategically direct and influence the patterns of land development, we need “smart conservation” to strategically direct our nation’s conservation practices. Green infrastructure provides a solution that ensures environmental protection and a higher quality of life within communities as well as regulatory predictability for landowners and investors.
Green Infrastructure at Multiple Scales
While green infrastructure planning occurs at a broad ‘landscape scale,’ elements of the over-arching network can be found at all scales, from state-wide, to the county, city, and parcel/site scale. Critical elements of the implementation strategy, such as low-impact development practices (LID), conservation developments, green/grey interface, etc., are necessary components to any successful green infrastructure plan, and are frequently found at the site/parcel scale.
Going “green” has been one of the most noticeable trends in the construction industry since the past few years. With the advent of the 21st century, construction companies, whether small or big, have become more cautious about adopting green practices to build eco-friendly buildings. Surprisingly however, there has not been any conscious effort to implement eco-friendly infrastructure, which has immense scope and relevance in the present scenario.
According to economists and social scientists, infrastructure development is imperative to ensure India’s overall economic growth. “Considering India’s geographic vastness, infrastructure development will play a critical role in cementing its position as the next economic superpower,” opines Prof Shubham Singh, Head of Department-Construction Engineering, Hitkarni College of Engineering Technology, Jabalpur.
Prof Singh goes on to add that the adoption of eco-friendly practices will not only safeguard our existing resources but also make them more sustainable.
While assessing the future impact of implementing eco-friendly infrastructural facilities, it becomes necessary to understand the existing practices. At present, all infrastructure projects in India are required to furnish an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to seek approval from the Government of India (GoI). Likewise, the developmental projects have to acquire the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ (MoEF) consent to commence work.
Over the years, the EIA norms have been modified to help expedite the approval process. However, authorities have failed to address the environmental concerns linked with infrastructure development. Therefore, no notable steps have been undertaken to facilitate environmental sustenance.
Although the scenario is still bleak in the Indian context, a large number of infrastructure companies have responded to issues pertaining to environment degradation by adopting energy-efficient technologies. Many infrastructure projects are being completed using environment-friendly raw materials such as cement and a growing number of infrastructure companies are consulting environmentalists.
With nuclear power gaining momentum in India, environmentalists have voiced their concerns regarding the future of the Indian infrastructure sector. According to a section of environmentalists, nuclear energy will have adverse impact on our environment and large-scale adoption of this form of energy will spell doom. These fears are quelled by environment scientists who foresee nuclear energy as the most suitable form of energy in the future.
Growing awareness has made authorities and companies more conscious about the importance of protecting the environment and sustaining resources for future. Furthermore, industry players are finding the implementation of green practices to be a more commercially viable option as they are now able to curb escalating costs of construction. At this juncture, government support and dissemination of information are required to make Indian infrastructure sustainable.
Links and Sources:
- E.P.A. Offers $1.8 Million in Urban Green Infrastructure Grants (sustainablecitiescollective.com)
- E.P.A. Offers $1.8 million in Urban Green Infrastructure Grants (dirt.asla.org)
- Green Christmas: Santa’s carbon footprint [INFOGRAPHIC] (grist.org)