Green infrastructure is an approach to water management that adds green space designed to protect, restore, or mimic the natural water cycle. Often, strategies include planting trees and vegetation to increase a community’s resilience. Green infrastructure can improve the performance of and reduce risks to gray infrastructure (i.e. projects that use concrete or steel) from hazards such as extreme precipitation and extreme heat.
Climate changes, such as increases in extreme precipitation events and heat waves, can affect the benefits and capabilities of green infrastructure. Depending on the designed water capacity of the project, increased frequency and intensity of storms can overwhelm the buffering capacity of green infrastructure, causing extreme flooding and increased stormwater discharges. Similarly, depending on the heat sensitivity of the vegetation incorporated into green infrastructure, temporary periods of extreme temperatures can cause evaporation of moisture from the ground, resulting in desiccated vegetation that is less effective. Longer-term, as regional climates change, use of species historically planted in the region may no longer be feasible due to an increasing mismatch with their preferred climatic conditions.