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Green Infrastructure Research

Green infrastructure has been a unifying theme across all UREx network cities, given its potential for providing stormwater management in conjunction with other co-benefits like heat mitigation or aesthetic improvement. Green infrastructure implementation is in various stages in our network cities, from well-developed programs in Portland to initial stages of implementation in Hermosillo. While some research efforts are focusing on the specifics of design or governance in particular cities, new research generated through the UREx SRN strives to compare various aspects of green infrastructure across multiple network cities.

Green infrastructure can have different connotations for different people or disciplines. The figure above highlights our perception of green infrastructure and related strategies along the ecological-technological spectrum.


Erin Looper
graduate student at Portland State University, coordinated with SRN scientists to have soils sampled during summer 2017 to assess ecological function in stormwater detention basins in Baltimore, New York, Phoenix, Portland, and Syracuse. Erin is interested in the basin soil microbial community’s capacity to process nutrients in stormwater, and is examining how that varies across the cities, and along with design and management characteristics of the basins.

Rae Zimmerman
faculty collaborator from New York University, has led a GI financing project, looking at what influences funding attractiveness and how GI users can design funding to support GI. The approach is to link types of GI financing to GI attributes at the project level for selected sets of GI projects nationwide including some URExSRN cities, and GI databases have been identified and coded. Preliminary findings indicate a high degree of variability in funding types across GI projects with different characteristics, and some sources are opportunistic, traditional or regulatory driven.

Lauren McPhillips and Marissa Matsler
UREx postdoctoral fellows, have been working on an analysis of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) portfolios in Baltimore, Phoenix, and Portland (chosen because they had the most comprehensive data available on GSI implementation). They looked at how types and amount of GSI varied across the cities, and how that has been implemented over time. Portland has the greatest density of GSI and Baltimore has the greatest diversity of GSI types, while Phoenix has an impressive density of GSI for a desert city. Both Baltimore and Portland have had striking transitions in GSI types over the last few decades, driven by needs to improve water quality.