Green Streets Make a Visible Difference in Norfolk

by Andrew Wynne

EPA’s Building Blocks program is helping to turn streets - like this one in Norfolk’s Chesterfield Heights neighborhood – into green streets

EPA’s Building Blocks program is helping to turn streets – like this one in Norfolk’s Chesterfield Heights neighborhood – into green streets.

The occasional pop-up shower or thunderstorm is commonplace here in the mid-Atlantic during the spring season. While these dreary, rainy days can seem to linger and provide ample time for a good book or movie marathon, they also provide important resources for our gardens, lawns, and trees. In more urban environments, green infrastructure helps to mitigate stormwater runoff and flooding, while providing environmental, social, and economic benefits.

In low-lying communities and those with high percentages of impervious surface cover, even mild storm events can wreak havoc, leading to storm sewer overflows and flooding. Sitting at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and bound by numerous tributaries, Norfolk, Virginia is already beginning to feel the effects of a changing climate, as rising sea levels and tidal waters combine to create a wet and potent cocktail for the coastal city.

EPA is collaborating with Norfolk city leaders and local stakeholders to build community and infrastructure capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change, improve water quality, and enhance quality of life in neighborhoods. Recently, EPA’s mid-Atlantic office coordinated with the City of Norfolk on a Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities technical assistance workshop as part of the Making a Visible Difference (MVD) in Communities effort.

The workshop brought together community members and various city departments to identify and implement green and complete streets, seeing green infrastructure practices as opportunities to manage stormwater, reduce flooding and pollution, increase green space, and lower demand on the city’s stormwater drainage system, while also making roadways safer, more inviting, and able to accommodate multiple users and modes of transportation. These practices are integral to the city’s plans to address resilience and prepare for sea level rise.

Interested in learning more about how you can incorporate green infrastructure practices into your own home or community? Check out EPA’s Green Infrastructure Wizard (GIWIZ) tool and additional green infrastructure resources, including fact sheets, design and implementation guides, and funding opportunities. You can find out more about our work in Norfolk and other communities around the mid-Atlantic region via our EPA Smart Growth webpage.


About the author: Andrew Wynne works in EPA Region 3’s Environmental Assessment and Innovation Division on community-based sustainability and climate adaptation programs. An avid traveler and road-tripper, he enjoys exploring unique environments through SCUBA diving and cross-country skiing.




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