What Is Green Infrastructure, And How Do We Include It In Urban Planning? By Mr. Avneesh Sood, Director Eros Group

As urbanization continues to rapidly transform the landscape of Indian cities, the concept of green infrastructure has gained significant attention in the field of urban planning. Green infrastructure refers to the strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural spaces, such as parks, gardens, green roofs, street trees, and water bodies that are designed to provide a range of ecological, social, and economic benefits to urban communities.
The inclusion of green infrastructure in urban planning has become increasingly important due to its potential to address critical challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, and heat island effects.
Green infrastructure acts as a natural solution to mitigate these challenges by enhancing environmental sustainability, improving public health and well-being, fostering social cohesion, supporting economic development, and enhancing the overall quality of urban life.Additionally, green infrastructure can provide recreational opportunities, promote biodiversity, and create jobs in the green sector, contributing to economic growth and sustainability.
Understanding Green Infrastructure
One of the primary benefits of green infrastructure in urban planning is effective stormwater management. With rapid urbanization, cities in India are facing increasing challenges related to stormwater runoff and flooding. Green infrastructure, such as rain gardens and green roofs, can help absorb and filter stormwater, reducing the risk of flooding and improving water quality. According to recent reports, incorporating green infrastructure in urban planning can help reduce stormwater runoff by up to 60% in some cases, thus mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events.
Another significant benefit of green infrastructure is air purification. Air pollution is a major concern in Indian cities, and green spaces can act as natural filters, helping to remove pollutants and improve air quality. Trees and other green elements in urban areas can absorb and trap airborne pollutants, reducing the concentration of harmful substances in the air and improving public health. Studies have shown that increasing green cover in urban areas can lead to a reduction in respiratory illnesses and other health issues related to air pollution.
There are several successful examples of green infrastructure projects in Indian cities. For instance, the “Urban Forest” initiative in Pune, Maharashtra, has transformed a barren land into a lush green forest, providing recreational spaces, improving air quality, and enhancing the aesthetic value of the area. The “Majestic Garden” project in Bangalore, Karnataka, has transformed a neglected park into a vibrant green space with innovative stormwater management techniques, reducing the risk of flooding in the area.
Integrating Green Infrastructure in Urban Planning
One key aspect of integrating green infrastructure in urban planning is the collaboration among different stakeholders. This includes city officials, urban planners, landscape architects, and community members. Involving these stakeholders from the early stages of urban planning can ensure that green infrastructure elements are considered and incorporated effectively. Collaborative efforts can lead to better decision-making, increased awareness, and support from the community, and improved implementation of green infrastructure initiatives.
Identifying suitable locations for green infrastructure elements is crucial for their success. Urban planners and landscape architects need to carefully assess the existing urban fabric and identify areas where green infrastructure can be most effective. This may include identifying areas with high impervious surfaces, areas prone to flooding, or areas with poor air quality, and strategically placing green infrastructure elements, such as green roofs, rain gardens, and urban forests, to address these issues.
Design considerations are also critical for effective implementation of green infrastructure. Factors such as site conditions, local climate, and community needs should be taken into account while designing green infrastructure elements. For example, selecting native plant species that are adapted to the local climate can enhance the resilience and longevity of green infrastructure projects. Additionally, incorporating multifunctional design approaches, such as using green roofs for stormwater management and providing recreational spaces, can maximize the benefits of green infrastructure.
Challenges and Solutions
One potential challenge is limited space in urban areas, which can pose a barrier to incorporating green infrastructure elements. Indian cities are often characterized by high population density and limited available land, making it challenging to find space for parks, green roofs, or other green infrastructure features. However, innovative solutions such as retrofitting existing spaces, such as rooftops, unused parcels of land, or converting vacant lots into pocket parks, can help overcome this challenge. Additionally, vertical greenery solutions, such as green walls or vertical gardens, can be implemented in compact urban areas to maximize limited space.
Another challenge can be funding constraints. Green infrastructure projects may require significant investment for design, construction, and maintenance. Securing funding from multiple sources, such as government grants, private investors, and public-private partnerships, can be a strategy to overcome funding challenges. It is important to highlight the economic benefits of green infrastructure, such as reduced stormwater management costs, improved property values, and increased tourism, which can be used as a justification for investment in green infrastructure projects.
Several cities in India have successfully integrated green infrastructure into their urban planning practices. For example, Pune has implemented a “City Biodiversity Index” that incorporates green infrastructure and ecological considerations in urban planning. Chennai has implemented the “Cooum Eco-restoration Plan” that aims to restore the Cooum River by incorporating green infrastructure elements such as wetlands, green corridors, and biodiversity parks. These case studies highlight the success of incorporating green infrastructure in urban planning and provide examples of strategies and solutions that can be adopted in other cities.
Benefits of Green Infrastructure in Urban Planning
Green infrastructure plays a pivotal role in urban planning in the Indian real estate industry, providing a plethora of benefits that contribute to a more sustainable, livable, and resilient urban environment. One of the key benefits of green infrastructure is improved environmental sustainability. Green infrastructure elements such as green roofs, rain gardens, and urban forests can effectively manage stormwater runoff, reducing the burden on municipal drainage systems and mitigating the risk of flooding in urban areas. Increased green cover through green spaces and urban forests also enhances biodiversity, providing habitat for local flora and fauna, which in turn contributes to a healthier ecosystem.
Another important benefit of green infrastructure is the improved livability and quality of life for urban residents. Access to green spaces, such as parks and gardens, has been shown to have positive impacts on mental and physical health, providing spaces for recreation, exercise, and relaxation. Green infrastructure also improves air quality by filtering pollutants and reducing the heat island effect in urban areas, which can positively impact the health and well-being of urban dwellers.
In the face of climate change, green infrastructure plays a critical role in building resilience in urban areas. Urban heat island effects, which can exacerbate the impacts of extreme weather events, can be mitigated through the implementation of green infrastructure, such as green roofs and tree planting, which provide shade and reduce surface temperatures. Green infrastructure also helps cities adapt to extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts, by managing stormwater runoff and providing natural buffers.
To Conclude
Green infrastructure is a critical element of urban planning in the Indian real estate industry, with numerous benefits that contribute to a more sustainable, resilient, and livable urban environment. As highlighted in the latest reports, facts, and figures, green infrastructure plays a pivotal role in managing stormwater runoff, improving air quality, enhancing biodiversity, boosting property values, generating employment, and building climate change resilience in urban areas.
It is imperative for urban planners, policymakers, and real estate developers to recognize the importance of incorporating green infrastructure into future urban planning efforts. By prioritizing the integration of green infrastructure elements such as parks, green roofs, rain gardens, and urban forests, into urban planning practices, we can create more sustainable, resilient, and livable cities in India.