Green Infrastructure Defined

I was self-challenged recently to describe the term Green Infrastructure with clarity and brevity – in a way I haven’t seen yet. The task was more difficult than I thought it should be. If you would like to take a shot before reading further, go ahead. We’ll wait.

The elevator pitch doesn’t come easily, does it?

I decided long ago that Low Impact Development is, in fact, different than Green Infrastructure. That part was easy for me. LID is an approach – Green Infrastructure is a thing, or set of things. Many may not agree with that observation, but if it were already clear, I wouldn’t be here making my own stuff up.

After an exhausting internet search with no glimpse of uniformity or consistency among those who should know, here’s where I decided to start:

in·fra·struc·ture, ˈinfrəˌstrək(t)SHər/, noun

The basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society.

green, ɡrēn/, adjective

In consideration of, utilizing, or making less harmful to the natural environment.


And here is where I landed… for now:

(the quick version) – Green Infrastructure describes those elements needed for the operation of society that utilize, rely on, enhance, or are enhanced by natural processes and natural features…

(and finishing the full pitch) – Green Infrastructure serves the same purposes as traditional infrastructure, but adds social, ecological, economic, and more sustainable benefits to a community.


So, what do you think? Is that about right? If you’re good with Green Infrastructure as a noun but are still trying to describe the approach, consider my definition of Low Impact Development –

the consideration and utilization of the natural and built environment to provide a more sustainable and livable human environment.

And a bonus – both GI and LID address the intersection of natural and built environments.

We would love to hear your elevator pitch or more succinct descriptions and definitions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *