Being smart about being green: Templates for communities' green infrastructure challenges - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Being smart about being green: Templates for communities' green infrastructure challenges

Guidon Design and Delta Institute

This diagram of a rain garden from the templates explains all the intricate pieces that go into a successful green infrastructure installation.

Millennium Reserve

Right now—today—there are design templates available for communities to use for planning, designing and installing green infrastructure within their neighborhoods to help meet the challenge of managing stormwater in urban areas. Yes folks, it's true: Free, online green infrastructure design templates exist that have been vetted and designed by experts specifically for the Midwest region. How did this come about? Through the collective support and expertise of members of the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative. 

Formed in April 2014, the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative exists to help improve communication and coordination between various communities, stakeholders and agencies working to find viable solutions to solving stormwater management challenges in the Millennium Reserve area—Illinois’ portion of the Calumet Region and parts of the Illinois Lake Michigan coast. The collaborative addresses three central problems:

  • Stormwater overwhelms current infrastructure;
  • Green infrastructure’s role in stormwater management is still taking shape; and
  • Coordinated action between government units and other stakeholders controlling land, infrastructure, financing tools and regulatory powers is necessary to solve systemic problems in systemic ways.

Mission Statement:

The Calumet Stormwater Collaborative builds intergovernmental and cross-sector partnerships to increase the effectiveness of stormwater management initiatives for the communities and ecosystems of the Calumet region through knowledge sharing, coordination and deployment of interventions at appropriate scales.

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) convenes and facilitates the collaborative, which currently has more than 30 active members that participate in the monthly meetings and work initiatives of the group. These projects are driven by a work plan, which is collectively formulated by the group, and are implemented by selected members of the collaborative. 

The green infrastructure design templates are an achievement of the Streamlining Green Infrastructure Design working group, which is headed by Delta Institute. The group identified a need to provide community-level design templates for installing green infrastructure to help manage stormwater issues. These design templates are intended to bridge the gap between the technical and non-technical user to promote green infrastructure design and implementation:

Green Infrastructure Designs: Scalable Solutions to Local Challenges

This toolkit, created by Delta Institute and Guidon Design, Inc., provides technical drawings (details and cross-sections), construction notes as well as cost and maintenance information for five different types of green infrastructure. The templates also include photos of the green infrastructure techniques to help all users better understand how they fit into the urban environment. The collaborative is excited to have this resource available to communities, and is grateful to Delta Institute for its leadership in the creation of this useful tool.

This initiative is an example of the benefit of bringing together multiple stakeholders, agencies and communities in order to align coordination, common goals and leverage expertise and resources to tackle the challenging issue of managing stormwater in communities today.

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