Green Infrastructure (GI)

Green Infrastructure Research Priorities:

PWRC Green Infrastructure projects aim to build on green infrastructure best practices by fostering strong multi-disciplinary networks of professionals to analyze institutions and encourage technical and legislative innovations.

Green infrastructure (GI) has been identified by UN-Water and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as essential to climate change adaptivity and promoting global water security, yet few municipalities have made significant advances in GI implementation (Bowder, 2019; Revi, 2014). The Pacific Water Research Center is undertaking research on Green Infrastructure to help municipalities harness the many potential benefits of GI systems related to water security and urban well-being, such as rainwater management, improved mental health, habitat restoration, improved air quality, shoreline resiliency, and a reduction of the urban heat island effect.

GI implementation has been slow due to a number of technical and institutional factors; a lack of municipal capacity and technical expertise, the need for new regulatory requirements, unfamiliarity with the risks and opportunities, and conflicting goals and mandates of municipal departments and institutions (Tayouga, 2016; Dhakal, 2017; Young et. al., 2014). PWRC GI research is focused on addressing these institutional obstacles to GI implementation through policy, institutional reform, and cross-disciplinary research networks that can address outstanding technical challenges.

URBAN GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE STANDARDIZATION - NICK MEAD-FOX

The UN estimates that nearly 70% of the global population will live in cities by 2050.  Urban green infrastructure systems are essential to accommodating this increase without exacerbating the environmental damage caused by 20th century urbanization.  Green infrastructure systems can also play a key role in expanding urban resilience to climate change by re-creating environmental services and modulating the effects of climate variation.  Despite its promise, widespread implementation has proven challenging.  One significant obstacle to widespread implementation has been the difficulty of adopting reliable standards for green infrastructure performance, design, and construction.

Throughout North America, municipalities bear the primary responsibility for managing infrastructure services, but few have the resources and expertise to develop reliable standards for green infrastructure systems, which are novel for infrastructure and require expertise from multiple disparate disciplines.  An ongoing project organized by Nick Mead-Fox explores municipal best practices for adopting and implementing Green Infrastructure standards, which can decrease the costs of implementation and maintenance, increase the reliability of performance, and help cities meet GI-related goals. 

Nick’s work is informed by three years of professional experience working as a stormwater management consultant in the Greater Toronto Area, and two years of experience with the City of Vancouver GReen Infrastrucure Implementation Team.  His project has been inspired by challenges he has encountered while implementing Green Infrastructure systems in these municipalities. 

Team:

Zafar Adeel

PWRC Executive Director

Nick Mead-Fox

Masters student, Resource and Environmental Management working with Dr. Zafar Adeel

Andrea McDonald

Masters student, Resource and Environmental Management working with Dr. Zafar Adeel

Project Partners: