What Is Green Infrastructure? A Definition And 5 Examples Of How It Can Work On Your Commercial Kentucky Property

Roscoe Klausing on Sep 13, 2016 10:50:00 AM

Ask more of your landscape. Go deeper than curb appeal and selecting plants as eye candy for your commercial property. Seriously consider how your commercial landscape can contribute to a greener community.

Your landscape can make a measurable difference by improving water and air quality, developing an urban wildlife habitat and contributing to a more sustainable, vital environment. And we promise—that is not asking too much.

So, how do you accomplish these seemingly lofty goals? How do you “make a difference” and improve an urban community by the choices you make on your own Kentucky landscape?

Two words: green infrastructure.

This might be a new term, and we admit that it sounds technical. Green infrastructure—what is the definition? What does it mean? Is it financially feasible? What does your property actually gain?

First, we’ll define green infrastructure. Then, we’ll share examples of what green infrastructure actually is, and how you can realistically implement projects on your commercial property that will make a marked impact on the Central Kentucky ecosystem.

You see, we are passionate about the fact that trees, pollinators, wildlife and good, clean air is not a “rural thing.” But developers have built urban landscapes that are void of nature. It’s time to bring nature back into our cities, and your commercial property is just the place to start by including green infrastructure in the landscape plan.

Now, let’s get down to the details of exactly what green infrastructure means and how your landscape can truly work for you if you implement these economically beneficial concepts.

A Definition: What Is Green Infrastructure, Anyway?Green_Infrastructure.jpg

Green infrastructure isn’t new, but the phrase is not one that often enters a conversation about commercial landscape maintenance. We believe this is changing as more people recognize how nature can actually be harnessed to provide “services” for communities—like flood prevention, reducing urban heat effect, improving air and water quality, and elevating the overall wellbeing of humans. (We know this sounds huge. But it’s completely achievable on your Kentucky property.)

Green infrastructure is defined as an inter-connected network of open, green spaces that provide a range of ecosystem services. Green infrastructure is essentially creating healthier environments one property at a time through landscape projects that deliver a sustainable return on investment. Yes, we just said ROI and sustainability in the same sentence. Because that’s the crux of green infrastructure: It makes sense for the people, planet and your profitability.

When you invest in green infrastructure, the return is that your landscape does more. It is a natural habitat supporting nature. Green infrastructure gives back by bringing our communities essential environmental benefits. We breathe cleaner air. Our stormwater systems get relief. Our rainwater run-off is cleaner, less of a burden on sewer infrastructure. Our plants attract beneficial wildlife. With green infrastructure, our commercial properties can “connect the dots” and create a green sprawl rather than sterile, lifeless urban sprawl.

Green infrastructure is life sustaining.

Green infrastructure is a natural solution for the drainage, heat, air and water quality problems we face on our commercial properties.

So, this is why we are so passionate about including green infrastructure on commercial properties in Central Kentucky. We love empowering facility managers, taking environmental leadership as a landscape partner and showing property owners how their landscapes can truly make a difference.

Now, let’s get to the details of “how.”

Examples Of Green Infrastructure: Put Nature To Work

So, how can you actually implement green infrastructure on your commercial property? What does it look like, anyway? How exactly do you ask more of your landscape in terms of choosing projects that deliver the ecosystem services we described?

Here are some examples of green infrastructure projects Klausing Group has executed on commercial properties in Central Kentucky. Realize, we are merely scratching the surface. But these sustainable landscape enhancements have delivered a return-on-investment and contribute to healthier, more vital ecosystem. And, as we said, that actually means the green infrastructure projects are making our communities better places to live, work and play.

#1 Rain Gardens

the rain garden at KG HQRain gardens share a common purpose. They absorb rainwater and allow it to percolate rather than putting stress on our stormwater systems. Rain gardens also filter contaminants. They remove sedimentation and debris from stormwater run-off to improve water quality. We could go into great detail about rain gardens and how they can reduce or eliminate flooding, improve the efficiency of stormwater systems and create natural habitats. What’s most important to note here is that there is a natural, sustainable solution for dealing with boggy areas, flooding and the landscape damage these issues cause. Rain gardens are a fantastic green infrastructure investment.

#2 Green Roofs

Green Roof in Lexington

Vegetative rooftops, commonly called green roofs, can reduce energy consumption and reduce stormwater runoff. Green roofs can extend a roof’s lifespan by two to three times.  Imagine saving $200,000 on a roof over its lifetime? That’s what a University of Michigan study showed by installing vegetation on a 21,000 square foot roof that costs $464,000. The investment in a green roof basically pays for itself over time. Two-thirds of the savings in the study came from reduced energy needs for the building.   Plus, green roofs reduce pollution and offset the urban heat effect.

Green roofs don’t have to be complicated. There are “plug-and-play” options that suit various price points and so commercial properties realize fast ROI and achieve their energy savings goals.

#3 Permeable Paver Parking Lots

permeable paver parking lotAsphalt and pavement parking lots are hotbeds, literally. This impacts the surrounding environment. If you watch a red maple planted by an asphalt parking lot in early fall, you’ll notice its leaves turn almost a month before other trees not located by pavement. Yes—there is such a thing as urban heat effect. And it alters the ecosystem on our Kentucky commercial landscapes.

Permeable paver parking lots are an alternative to asphalt and traditional pavement. Because these permeable surfaces absorb water run-off, you’ll reduce the stress on stormwater systems and decrease or eliminate flooding. The surfaces stay cooler and do not negatively impact the natural surroundings.

Closeup15.jpg#4 Urban Tree Canopies

Trees breathe life into the world. Literally—that’s what they do. And we are in dire need of more trees in our urban environments. Cities like Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky where we serve clients can benefit greatly from increasing the urban tree canopy. What we are saying is: plant the right trees in the right places.

#5 Plant Selection

The plants we choose for our landscapes can help offset urban heat effect from parking lots by providing shade and cooling down spaces. They can filter water that flows into our stormwater systems. Plants can attract birds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. When we select native plants that naturally thrive in Central Kentucky, they require fewer inputs and provide even greater return on investment.

Green Infrastructure Delivers A Return On Your Investment

With anything “green,” the first question we often get is, “Well—how much will it cost?” And the next question is, “Does it really work?” We hope we have helped explain the true economic returns your commercial Kentucky property can realize by investing in green infrastructure that will turn your landscape into a true, beneficial, hard-working ecosystem.

As we said, it’s about asking more of your landscapes and looking beyond curb appeal. Picking out pretty plants is easy. You can do that on your own. But when you are ready to dig deeper and gain true ecosystem services from your landscape, then give The Klausing Group a call.

As you can tell, we get pretty excited about green infrastructure and how it is changing the overall environment in Central Kentucky. We’re doing a lot on our own property. (We’d love to give you a tour!)

So give us a call any time in Lexington at 859.254.0762, or in Louisville at 502.264.0127. Or, fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.


New Call-to-action

Subscribe Here!