Green Infrastructure Resources

Stormwater, Flooding, and Green Infrastructure

Why Green Infrastructure?

In its simplest terms, green infrastructure is an approach to stormwater management and flood mitigation that provides areas for water to soak into the ground, or evaporate back into the air, rather than forming runoff and leading to flooding.  As communities historically developed, the amount of impervious surfaces such as roads, sidewalks, and parking lots within the community increased.  These surfaces are referred to as impervious because they do not allow rainwater to soak into the ground.  Community flood risk increases as the area of impervious surface increases.  Since rainwater falling on impervious surfaces is not able to soak into the ground, it must either run off of that surface or collect in low-lying areas.


Using Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure to Get Benefits From FEMA Programs

EPA promotes the use of Low Impact Development (LID) and Green Infrastructure (GI) as a cost-effective and resilient approach to stormwater management.  LID/GI provides many community benefits including cleaner water, wildlife habitat, enhanced aesthetics, and can be designed to supplement localized or watershed flood protection.

LID/GI projects that reduce flood losses to properties insured under the NFIP may be eligible for grant funding through FEMA.  In addition, LID/GI projects may allow a community to claim points toward flood insurance discounts.

LID/GI ordinances and other environmental planning may allow a community to claim points toward flood insurance discounts under the Community Rating System (CRS) developed by FEMA.  LID/GI projects that reduce flood losses to properties insured under the NFIP may be eligible for grant funding through FEMA.


Watershed Management & Hazard Mitigation Planning: Collaborative Benefits in a Changing Climate

As climate events become more severe and frequent, this has the potential to turn natural seasonal flooding into dangerous rain events that create severe public heath, economic, and environmental problems for Kentucky.  Integrating water quality and water quantity management considerations using nature-based solutions can help mitigate flooding, while promoting social, economic, and environmental priorities. Ultimately, collaboration can empower communities to gain resiliency to help future generations.


  1. EPA’s Flood Resilience Checklist: is your community prepared for a possible flood? Completing this flood resilience checklist can help you begin to answer that question:
  2. Flood Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Facilities: managers of critical facilities can take this assessment to identify their facility’s potential vulnerabilities to flooding. Users receive a customized report summarizing risks and a set of recommendations to address them.
  3. Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions: A Guide for Local Communities: provides background information on nature-based solutions; presents the business case; and provides practical advice for planning and implementation. 08/fema_riskmap_nature-based-solutions-guide_2020.pdf
  4. Sustainable Development Code: provides information on removing code barriers, creating incentives, and filling in regulatory gaps. (check out Chapter 2, Sections 2.1 & 2.5)
  5. Association of State Floodplain Managers Flood Science Center’s Green Guide: highlights 25 of the 94 elements in the 2017 CRS Coordinator’s Manual, which have beneficial impacts beyond flood risk reduction.

Link to more information from DOWNature-Based Solutions.

Interested in integrating water quality and quantity management?  Email Mahtaab Bagherzadeh or Perry Thomas

Saving the Rain – EPA
Green Stormwater Solutions for Congregations

May 2020

Congregations can use this guide for help with constructing green stormwater management practices to enhance landscapes.  Using a stepwise approach, this guide walks readers through a comprehensive process:

  • Educate the congregation
  • Identify champions
  • Organize working groups
  • Partner with local governments
  • Identify green infrastructure opportunities at their places of worship

The document from the EPA includes information to help plan, design, and build as well as links to resources and tools for assessing and mapping areas to place green stormwater practices.

Download the green stormwater management practices guide.  


Protect Streams – Implement Creditable CRS Activities

Activities that earn CRS credits Communities that protect streams should consider implementing these creditable activities:

  • Adopting erosion and sediment control regulations for land disturbed during development.
  • Establishing a library of flood risk data, which can contain LID and green space information.
  • Maintaining a flood protection website that can include relevant LID/GI information.
  • Prohibiting fill in the 100-year floodplain.
  • Adopting a building code that contains LID/GI requirements and practices.
  • Using dedicated funding for new or retrofit LID/GI projects in a capital improvement plan.
  • Conducting outreach that may include LID/GI and stream protection information.
  • Prohibiting dumping of yard waste and trash in streams and enforcing compliance.


Step-by-Step Guide to Integrating Community Input into Green Infrastructure Projects

April, 2018

Many communities are turning to “green infrastructure” to reduce flooding, clean and conserve water, and provide recreational and other benefits.  But how can local governments ensure they’re meeting the needs of the community?  The Step-by-Step Guide to Integrating Community Input into Green Infrastructure Projects shows how.

The guide provides details and tips to help local governments as they move through the decision making process in eight, easy-to-digest steps.  While the guide is directed largely at local governments, it could also be a useful resource for other groups such as community and nonprofit organizations that are looking to implement green infrastructure projects in their communities.

Download the Step-by-Step Guide to Integrating Community Input into Green Infrastructure Projects.

For additional information, visit ELI’s Green Infrastructure Program.

Planning for Equity in Parks with Green Infrastructure

December 2017

From the APA and National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).  Planners and park professionals routinely incorporate green infrastructure principles into the planning and design of pub­lic parks.  This approach can be a powerful tool to improve the environmental quality of parks, engage and empower nearby communities, and provide social equity benefits.

Read more, link to Planning For Equity In Parks With Green Infrastructure.


Financing Green Infrastructure Projects

December 2017

Municipal budget officers have long been familiar with the intricacies of capital improvement planning, which allows governments to align infrastructure investments with their communities’ long-range comprehensive plans.  Conventional stormwater management systems (often called “gray”) contain stormwater runoff in reservoirs and massive underground pipes and tunnels—large scale public works projects—to pre­vent polluted runoff from draining directly into waterways.

Read more, link to Financing Green Infrastructure Projects.


EPA Releases “Green Infrastructure in Parks: A Guide to Collaboration, Funding and Community Engagement”

 June 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency produced “Green Infrastructure in Parks: A Guide to Collaboration, Funding and Community Engagement” to encourage partnerships between park and stormwater agencies to promote the use of green infrastructure on park lands.  Green infrastructure can help to maximize the environmental, economic, and social benefits of parks.  By building strong partnerships, agencies can improve park lands and access to parks, better manage stormwater, increase community resiliency to shifting weather patterns, and provide funding to implement and maintain park enhancements that benefit the community.

Resource Guide for Planning, Designing and Implementing:  Green Infrastructure in Parks


This Resource Guide for Planning, Designing and Implementing Green Infrastructure in Parks builds on the success of park and green infrastructure initiatives throughout the United States.  The 48-page Guide provides basic principles, inspiration, and ideas that can help planners, designers, and decision-makers equitably integrate green.  The Guide was developed partnership between the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the American Planning Association (APA), with support from the Low Impact Development Center Inc. (LID Center).stormwater infrastructure into parks and park systems across the country.

Link to the Resource Guide for Planning, Designing and Implementing Green Infrastructure in Parks


Working with the Markets: Economic Instruments to Support Investment in Green Stormwater Infrastructure 2017

By Seth Brown, Storm & Stream Solutions, LLC and Carrie Sanneman, Williamette Partnership

Urban stormwater runoff is one of the most significant environmental issues facing communities today.  Flooding, water supply, water quality, habitat degradation, and other impacts associated with runoff are increasing due to urbanization, more episodic climatic regime, and rising temperatures.

Communities are in need of cost-effective and innovative ways to drive investment and implementation of green infrastructure for stormwater management.  This report summarizes how stormwater managers can work with market forces, applying “economic instruments” to address these critical issues and meet their program goals.  Economic instruments recognize and deliberately work within the economic system to create action or drive investment that meets environmental goals.  They include the use of rebates, subsides, trading, and mitigation.  Economic instruments are a useful tool for stormwater managers because they can:

  • Increase the coverage of green infrastructure on both public and private lands, for new development and urban retrofits;
  • Provide flexibility for regulated entities trying to meet stormwater requirements;
  • Provide a vehicle for both public and private investments; and
  • Enhance the efficiency of delivering benefits associated with stormwater infrastructure.

Incentives-based approaches motivate the installation of stormwater controls by offering cost avoidance, financial gain, or program/project support.  Stormwater programs often use rebates, subsidies, or project/logistical support as an incentive for private parties to install green infrastructure.  Mitigation or credit-based approaches are those in which stormwater benefits are quantified as a currency or “credit” and traded between parties to mitigate or offset regulatory requirements.  This creates an incentive for pollution controls to occur where it is most cost-effective to do so.  These programs provide flexibility for regulated parties and create an incentive to develop new, more cost effective methods to reduce pollution and/or control stormwater volume.

Read more about Willamette Partnership publications resources.


Catalyzing Green Infrastructure on Private Property

October 2017

The NRDC and the New York University Stern Center for Sustainable Business have released a new report with recommendations for stimulating wide spread use of green infrastructure on private property, to help reduce stormwater runoff from existing development.  The report presents an innovative approach to a large-scale green infrastructure grant program, which can be adapted by cities around the US, which engages the private sector, community-based organizations, and the affordable housing sector.

The report offers ways to leverage green infrastructure retrofit efforts with other local green building and sustainability initiatives.  The report is based on over 250 expert interviews, stakeholder meetings, and the work of a NRDC finance analyst working from the offices of the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection.  A blog summarizing the report can be found here.


Green Infrastructure Wizard Connects Communities to Resources

EPA released a new web-based tool, the Green Infrastructure Wizard (GIWiz), to help local officials and community members find tools and resources more easily. GIWiz offers quick, direct access to Green Infrastructure tools and resources that can support and promote water management and community planning decisions. Users can produce customized reports that include links to the resources they want to use.  Click to Use the Wizard to search for resources for your community.


Flood Loss Avoidance Benefits of Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management

December 2015

This EPA modeling study estimates the flood loss avoidance benefits from application of small storm retention practices for new development and redevelopment nationwide. Twenty HUC8 watersheds were modeled in areas where significant growth is expected between 2020 and 2040, using the FEMA Hazus model and national-scale datasets. The area of the watersheds ranges between 500 and 3,000 square miles. The study was conducted in consultation with other federal agencies including the US Army Corps of Engineers,  NOAA, and FEMA.

The approach was vetted by a panel of experts from government, academia, and industry. The results show that, over time, the use of green stormwater infrastructure can save hundreds of millions of dollars in flood losses, while just applying the practices to new development and redevelopment only. If retrofitting were to occur, the avoided losses would be even more significant. Download the document: Flood Loss Avoidance Benefits of Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management.


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