Green Design 

Discovering Designs for Green Infrastructure

welcome everyone to today's webinardesigns for green infrastructure inMidwestern communities my name is JackGaskin I am senior program specialisthere at the Delta Institute and I'll behosting today's webinar so we will covera number of items in today's agendafirst sort of broadly speaking go over alot of deltas great infrastructure workand then get into the content and thecontext for the green infrastructuredesigns manual and then finish up withanswering some questions that you allmight have and just discuss those thankyou to everyone in advance forsubmitting questions if folks have anyquestions that arise in the middle ofthe webinar please save them until theend and message them to us and we'll tryto address them so first a little bitabout Delta Institute we are a Chicagobased not-for-profit founded in 1998 wework on a variety of projects andinitiatives throughout the Midwestfocused mainly on environmentalsustainability and economic developmentand work with a variety of partnersincluding communities nonprofits privateorganizations and public agencies we area multidisciplinary team of 22 we haveurban planners civil engineerseconomists scientists architects dataanalysts lead aps and what do we doamongst a number of things we developinnovative programs and market drivensolutions to environmental and economicproblems and convene diverse groups andstakeholders around solving publicpolicy problems and now a little bitabout me as senior program specialisthere at Delta I manage projects in ourgreen infrastructure portfolio andprovide programmatic support for oururban redevelopment and brownfieldrevitalization projects I am an urbanplanner by trade before coming toalta i spent five plus years as aplanner in northwest indiana mostrecently as a deputy director ofredevelopment for the city of gary andprior to that i served as a regionalplanner at the northwestern IndianaRegional Planning Commission in bothroles I worked on a slew of land useplanning environmental planning andtransportation projects many of whichfocused directly on green infrastructureparticularly in my time at Delta I wasI'm excuse me in my time at the sea ofGary prior to Delta I was able to workon a number of great infrastructureprojects focused mainly on planningdesign guidelines integration with grayinfrastructure and vacant land reuse sohere at Delta a green infrastructure isa key component of our overallprogrammatic work we strategicallyapproached sustainable economicdevelopment through six differentinitiative areas including not onlygreen infrastructure land stewardshipregenerative food systems wastereduction sustainable buildings andresilient communities and greeninfrastructure is one of these sixpillars so why is green infrastructure apriority at Delta as many of you knowit's a strategy that not only improvesthe environment but also delivers clearsocial and economic benefits for ourcommunity these include stormwatermanagement and flood reduction improvingof water and air quality beautificationof corridors and neighborhoods andreduction of the urban heat islandeffect as with our other initiativeareas we have looked to scale greeninfrastructure through community-basedplanning and implementation projects andalso by developing tools and resourcesthat assist with implementation so tohelp communities and partners delivergreen infrastructure projects we providea variety of services in partnershipwith other organizations the examplefrom the left is a citywide greeninfrastructure planning exercise that weengaged in with Michigan City Indianaand partnersship with the alliance for the GreatLakes Michigan City these area-wideplanning efforts have led to a number ofsite implementation and monitoringprojects which takes us to the mainfocus of today's discussion our greeninfrastructure designs manual this hasbeen a key resource for installing sitesand partner communities like MichiganCity and in advancing potential projectsmoving forward and will we'll talk alittle bit about that at the end of thepresentation the guide assistscommunities in selecting locating anddesigning green infrastructure forstormwater management we originallydeveloped it in 2015 and updated in 2017to include more designs and additionalcontent in context so what's in the guythere are various decision tools thatassist local stakeholders withidentifying what green infrastructuretechnique is most suitable based onexisting conditions where to locate itthe problems that it can help solve andthe benefits that it will producespecifically there are there areguidelines renderings and specs forseven different green infrastructuretechniques which will be going intoshortly and now maybe it's justimportant to take a step back andexplore why Delta develop this resourceover the last decade there have been anumber of local partners whether or notfor profits or municipal governmentsthat were consistently engaging Deltaaround the basic questions of how toimplement green infrastructure how doyou design it where do you locate it howdo you maintain it how do you finance itand how do you integrate it with gray ofthe structure there appeared to be aneed for a guidance document thataddressed these questions but wastailored to Midwestern communities wasaccessible and clearly illustrated howgreen infrastructure was more than justlandscaping a resource that was heavilyused in putting this together was thecity of Portland's stormwater managementmanit's it provided an excellentillustration of accessible user-friendlydesigns with maintenance cost andmaterials information included of coursethe context is different in the PacificNorthwest than it is in the Midwest theclimates different as is the plant lifethe cost of labor and materials theexisting institutional capacitydevelopment patterns etc so it appearedto be a need to develop a Midwestspecific resource to frame it through abroader lens Delta has identifiedvarious categorical barriers towardbroad implementation of greeninfrastructure in the Midwest and at theoutset of putting together the designsguide we felt that it could assist inaddressing a number of these barriersparticularly around design awarenessplanning and maintenance so who arethese designs intended for essentiallyit can be used by anyone who hasownership or regulatory authority overland and property governments and publicagencies can use this guide to implementprojects on roads parks public propertyand can also use them to evaluateproposals from private property ownersadditionally private property owners canuse them to implement greeninfrastructure on their parking lotssetbacks and on their buildings as partof the processthe designs guide can be used byengineering design and landscapingconsultants and contractors that work onbehalf of property owners agencies andland managers and the designs can beused in various ways they first can beutilized internally for planning by landmanagers and practitioners by helpingthe user select what the right design isand where the right location is andreinforcing just general commonunderstanding of green infrastructuredesign its costs and maintenance all ofwhich is critical when you're in theplanning phase extrethey can be utilized both inconstruction bidding documents as wellas in site plan and documents that adeveloper submits to municipal Planningand Zoning departments for approval whenthey're getting permits the duct designsalso established guidelines andbenchmarks that can serve as the basisfor performance monitoring which is akey component of any type ofinfrastructure improvement okay so let'sjump to the actual techniquesspecifically the guidelines focus onseven different strategies for greeninfrastructure bioswales and hybridditches rain gardens stormwater planterspermeable pavement green roofs box treefilters and underground storage thesetechniques can be applied in differentcontexts by different users some aremore applicable to roads sidewalks andparking lots some are more applicable toprivate property in buildings some applyto both and some of these techniques canbe used in tandem with one another wewill in this presentation be focusingmore specifically on stormwater plantersas our breakout example and that will beused as sort of a model for what's ineach section of the guide so just givingyou know larger images of these quicklybioswalesstormwater planters and box tree filtersare all techniques that are more focusedon roads and rights-of-wayso they can often be sort of targeted topublic agencies and MDOT s and then raingardens and green roofs are more focusedon actual properties so that couldeither involve actual public agencyproperties or private property ownersand then tools like permeable pavementor underground storage can be used inany of these examples for the purposesof today's webinar we'll pop intostormwater planners as the breakouttechnique because they are sowhile all of these techniques fit underthe category of green infrastructurethey present varying benefits andaddress varying problemsthe guides benefits table Illustratedhere was developed to specifically showwhat one technique can help the GIdeveloper achieve versus another in thecase of stormwater planters it reducespest and urban heat island effectimproves water and air quality andintroduces green spaces into urbanenvironments it does not yield anybenefits for noise reduction howevertrip the guide also illustrates where aspecific technique can be located in thecase of stormwater planters they'relocated on the right of way along thestreet and benefit from existing spacein a parking lane or on a sidewalk andalso our best located close to existinginletsin the green infrastructure flow chartthe decision-making process for eachtechnique is laid out once again withstormwater planters as example it startswith the question of is there space inthe right-of-way if so that takes you tothis question is there pervious area inthe right-of-way in a typical citystreet it's often impervious you knowthe parking lanes it for example so thenyou ask is there a parking Lane in theright-of-way that can be converted ifthere is then congratulations yourstreet may be qualified for a stormwaterplanter then it leads to the question ofwhat is the infiltration rate of thenative soil if it is below half an inchan hour then connecting the stormwaterplantthe under drain is recommended then itleads to the question or rather nomatter what a design engineer will beneeded to develop an overflow strategyfor large storm events regardless ofwhat the technique is on a related notewe received the question in advance ofthe webinar regarding how to estimate aproperty's soil infiltration ratetypically a design engineer identifies aproperties infiltration rate with thegeotechnical engineer based on anin-place test that is a product offactors like soil composition andtopography the City of Seattle has apilot infiltration test checklist thatprovides an example framework for howinfiltration is identified but inadvance of a more specific test beingdone that costs and municipal governmentor a property owner resources like thatsort of study for a quick and dirtycalculation our partners over at theCenter for neighborhood technology diddevelop a green value stormwater toolboxwhich doesn't necessarily focus on aspecific site but uses generalized siteconditions to calculate potentialinfiltration rates so as we'll talkabout before there are various toolsthat can help with this decision-makingon various levels so you can go throughthe flowchart for all seven of thesetechniques and it also addresses thequestions in the event is theirdemolition needed on a site orenvironmental remediation it willdirectly take you to the local andfederal resources that can help providesolutions so since we know thatstormwater planters are our GI techniqueof choice we will go into the specificsof the section the content for all ofthese techniques is structured in thesame way in each section of the guideeach section defines the particulargreen infrastructure technique in thecase of stormwater planters they'redefined as linear infiltration basinssitting between a street and a sidewalkin the right-of-way as you see righthere and surrounded by vertical curve acurving the section lays out how itworks and what it does in the case ofstormwater planners runoff flows to thegutter in the street and drains into theplanter through openings in the curbingthen it filters through the layers inthe soil and is absorbed through theroot system and ultimately clean runoffrecharges the groundwater as part of theprocess as with all of the GI techniquesstormwater planters are customizable bysidewalk and community they can be aslong and as wide as they need to be avariety of different trees and plantscan be used all of which is listed outin the guide and we're going to shortlythey can include changes to the geometryof the sidewalk like curb extensions andbump outs they can be connected to thegray infrastructure system through aperforated under drain and structuralsoil can be used to accommodate for thespecific spatial needs different rootsystems of plants that are being used sothey're highly customizable based on thecontext and the community the guide alsoprovides maintenance information foreach technique running the gamut fromwatering to mowing a critical componentof the guide are cross sections for eachtechnique with green infrastructure allof the most important elements existunderground this is the definingdifference between a stormwater planterand say a flowerbed on the street it isworth mentioning that a key component ofthese installations is engineered soilwhich you see right here engineered soilwhich is a mixture of 40 percents and30% topsoil and 30 percent compost isspecifically designed to simultaneouslycontrol stormwater infiltration at aconsistent rate to the aggregate belowwhile simultaneously filtering outpollutants and servingas the growing medium for plants on thesurface engineered soil isn'tnecessarily required to make asuccessful green infrastructureinstallation but due to its ability toeffectively manage the infiltration ofstormwater it likely increases aninstallations probability of success ona related note we received the questionbefore the webinar regarding how to getreliable good information on urban soilsand in discussing engineered soil it'simportant to point out that manyinstances a site's existing soil willneed to be removed to ensure that theplants can successfully grow in theresometimes involves using clean fillsometimes it involves using engineeredsoil nonetheless to gather that soilinformation on a 30,000 foot level tostate geological surveys like theIllinois Geological Survey or theIndiana Geological and water surveyprovide really good region-wideinformation on soil characteristics sothat at least provides you with thegeneral neighborhood of the soils andthen on an actual site level a soilmanagement evaluation would be neededlikely conducted by an engineer who willbe taking a number of soil probes andborings and conducting lab analysis sodepending on the site that sort ofactivity could cost a couple thousanddollars which we'll go into and the costinformation momentarily but I think it'simportant to point out that oftentimesthe existing soil is not necessarilygoing to be the soil that's used for asuccessful brand infrastructureinstallation so as with the dimensionsin the cross-section in the componentseach section includes scalable costinformation gathered from relatedprojects and data from our s means thesefigures are based on local averages andreal quotes vary from project to projectoftentimes but aswith other elements in the guide itprovides baseline which is critical wereceived the question beforehand whatare the best options for low-costinstallations and maintenance thesevarying techniques have been designed tobe both affordable and customizable to abroad swath of communities with thatsaid as far as plans go you're going tobe choosing between plugs and gallonsplugs are smaller and less expensivewhereas gallons are more expensive andlarger gallons are more expensivebecause they take more time to producein a nursery they also give you thatlook of being fuller they don't have togrow into their full size yet and so ifthe GI designer wants the installationto immediately look finished oftentimesthey're gonna go with gallons it justmeans it's going to be a more expensiveplant to use it's also worth noting thatdesign and maintenance are obviouslyvery interrelated engineering soil cancosts more than basic forms of cleanfill or even using the existing soilon-site but it ensures a higher rate ofperformance which means that you'relikely going to end up with reducedmaintenance costs over timesimultaneously native plantings involvemore time spend resources spent onmaintenance in the first three years butinvolves significantly less time andresources on maintenance after threeyears all of which will be going toshortly the guide includesspecifications for each GDI techniquecontracting of this work design guidanceworksheets specific details from thedifferent plantings that can be utilizedfor each technique and appropriatenative tree and plant species for eachguideline with focus on soil moisturelevel whether it's native to the areaand recommendations on plugs or balancethere's also design and maintenanceguide andfor both plugs and gallons a criticalcomponent of the native plantingguidelines is that they show how muchmaintenance activities can changeamongst different time frames of theprocess particularly in the beginninggreen infrastructure installations canrequire more intensive maintenance andcare than some other more conventionalplants but the value add is once againafter the first three years these plantsbecome comparatively low maintenance andmuch of the work around maintenancepivots to trimming of vegetation orreplacing dead plants so three yearsafter the completion of the firstedition of the guide we have been ableto partner with a few communitiesgetting these techniques in the groundwe currently have a number of projectsunderway in the community of HobartIndiana this includes a bioswale andPrairie installation underway in helmandPark which you see right herepartnering with Tim Kingsland who is thedirector of the stormwater managementdistrict the city of Hobart we'vepartnered with the stormwater managementdistrict and the parks department toplan and implement these projects boththe BIOS whale and the courtyard raingarden at the middle school will becompleted this fall with the stormwaterplanter and permeable pavement for CityHall planned for completion early 2019as with all of our other guides andtoolkits at Delta both the greeninfrastructure designs guide and the CADfiles around it are available fordownload for free on our website andjust to wrap up before we focus onquestions much like our other initiativeareas our green infrastructure work it'siterative the tools we produce in theprojects we advance and evolves gothrough this nonlinear process ofbuilding partnerships problem-solvingand evaluation and turned the designsit's very much a product of that processand the resort as the resource gets usedit will naturally be evolved to best fitthe needs of communities andstakeholders throughout the Midwest sothat concludes the presentation portionof our webinar I'd like to now spendsome time answering questions that folkshave submitted about the guide in greeninfrastructure in general in advance ofthe webinar and then we'll takequestions that you all have right now solet's start with some that weresubmitted before the webinar firstquestion how best do you track greeninfrastructure metrics there are avariety of ways in which to do that andit really comes down to what policyquestion are you looking to answer if itis in regards to stormwater managementand stormwater quantity gallons ofdecreased stormwater runoff collected bya stormwater or sanitary district is agood indicator as with gallons ofdecreased overflow from compliantcombined sewer overflows also whenyou're talking about the site-specificlevel soil saturation and infiltrationrates are good data metrics to collectthen there's the question of watershedquality nutrient levels in the watershedor different water bodies are goodindicators of the effectiveness of somegreen infrastructure that's beeninstalled in the area particularlyfocused on phosphorus and nitrogen andthen there's the more community andeconomic benefits questions propertyvalues and different public healthmetricswhile being indirectly related to greeninfrastructure can start to identifysome of the impact that an installationor a project can have on a neighborhoodso on to the next question how do youfinance green infrastructure on privatepropertyand to be clear that question is its ownwebinar or even its own course incollege it's a big question and it's onewhere there's a lot of work and a lot offocus on innovation right now typicallyhistorically it's been driven throughpublic subsidies and public programsmuch like other forms of infrastructurestormwater districts and sanitarydistricts have been starting to exploretools like stormwater fee credits tohelp fund projects on specific sites Iknow in Philadelphia and the District ofColumbia there's been a lot of workaround that also in the generalmunicipal context there's a variety ofdifferent tools that communities have orcan use to fund Grid infrastructurespecifically on private propertythese can include general obligationbonds facade rebate programs TIF awardsand just general incentives as part ofdeveloper agreements that communitiescan get into with different privatedevelopers on sites for residentialproperties there have been ideas floatedlike rain funds and I know that ourpartners over at CMT have explored anumber of different sources potentiallyfor municipal governments to help fundhomeowners improve stormwater managementgreen infrastructure in their backyardsa lot of times it's really about thesource that a particular community or aparticular agency can leverage andlastly there are improvements that canbe funded we're not necessarily fundedbut advanced through public regulationsprivate developers can be led to installgie by having to comply with specificregulations within the zoning codes orstormwater orin a community that either incentivizeor require green infrastructure andthat's also sort of an innovative areathat a lot of municipalities areexploring right nowthe last thing our public-privatepartnerships and it's very much in afrontier I know a number oforganizations have explored sort of tollroad type models for greeninfrastructure to help communities andstormwater districts get into compliancewith consent decrees around theircombined sewer overflows and it's led toa number of different financing optionsbeing explored a big question is whetherthese are simply just going to be repaidthrough public revenues much likemunicipal bonds or whether there'sopportunities for other revenue sourcesto sort of cost share the public sideyou know how to finance infrastructureimprovements is a timeless question andwith green infrastructure as an emerginginnovative technique it is it'sexperiencing the same sort of financequestions that infrastructureimprovement is in general is exploringright now third question will there beany methods described on how tocalculate cost above below replacementwhere grinev structure is used in lieuof gray infrastructure improvements likebuilding larger pipes so once again thetool does not specifically illustratesort of like a cost benefit to utilizinga green infrastructure method versus aconventional gray infrastructure methodI had mentioned before that the Centerfor neighborhood technology's greenvalue stormwater toolbox allows you tocalculate performance of greeninfrastructure versus variousconventional metrics or methods scuse mefor a number of different GI strategiesmuch like the ones that we use today ora went through today you know and I'dalso say too that it's worth pointingout that none of these greeninfrastructureoh geez do we feel are necessarilyreplacing green infrastructure but meantto be complimentary of and pairedtogether with existing grayinfrastructure so it's not alwaysnecessarily about replacing the largerpipe it's about figuring out what sortof improvements can enhance theperformance of that larger pipe fourthquestion what are green infrastructureopportunities for smaller communitieswithout planning or stormwaterdepartments to help implementthat's a great question particularly inmany resource constrained communitieshere in the Midwest one opportunity isto partner with organizations like oursthat assist in not only projectdevelopment but procurement of grantsand grants management and projectmanagement you know in my last positionwhere I was working for a midsize citywith serious financial resourceconstraints our abilities to makepartnerships with outside organizationsthat could help deliver projects werereally the difference between a projectsucceeding or not succeeding and so Ithink often times you know and it's alsoimportant to point out too in manycommunity

Explore Green Infrastructure design and implementation with Jack Eskin, Senior Programs Specialist at Delta Institute.

Jack introduces you to Delta Institute’s Green Infrastructure Design Guide ( Delta created this practical toolkit that features scalable tools and design templates to support municipal managers and decision-makers beginning to explore and implement Green Infrastructure in their communities.

This webinar will help you better understand how to identify opportunities for Green Infrastructure implementation, which Green Infrastructure treatments are most suitable for a specific site or purpose, and how to make informed decisions based on reasonable cost estimates. Learn about specific designs, cost, and maintenance for techniques like stormwater planters and permeable pavement.

We encourage you to watch and learn if you are a public sector manager, planner, decision-makers, consultant, or nonprofit dealing with municipal infrastructure.

Find more of our free tools here:

Delta Institute is a nonprofit that collaborates with communities to solve complex environmental challenges across the Midwest. Learn more at

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