Green Infrastructure Issue Areas: Air Quality

Air Quality:

Green infrastructure techniques have long been associated with improving air quality. Many green infrastructure methods include the usage of trees and vegetation in urban landscapes, contributing to improved air quality. Trees and vegetation offset air pollution by directly removing pollutants from the air, reducing emissions and reducing the high temperatures that contribute to ozone formation. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), green infrastructure techniques using vegetation can reduce ground level ozone by reducing air temperatures, reducing power plant emissions associated with air conditioning, and removing air pollutants.

In addition to using trees and vegetation to improve air quality, permeable pavement (a common green infrastructure technique, which allows stormwater to seep into the ground) can also improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions. For example, The Value of Green Infrastructure report conducted by American Rivers examines how permeable pavement reduces the amount of water treatment needed by allowing stormwater to infiltrate on site, therefore reducing air pollution and carbon emissions from power plants. Permeable pavement also helps to lower pavement surface temperatures by reducing the amount of heat absorbed, decreasing the amount of energy needed to cool the pavement.

For more information about Federal Agencies that utilize green infrastructure techniques to improve air quality, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s green infrastructure toolkit webpages.

The organizations and reports referenced above and how green infrastructure relates to air quality, can be found in the following resources:

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