Green streets and highways help mitigate the amount of pollution and damage caused by a road or highway to the environment.
Greening a street may involve environmental practices and its surrounding habitat:
-Pervious (porous) pavement is used – This means that instead of straight runoff when it rains, the water percolates through the surface to reduce runoff- related problems and to help minimize the effect of paving an area.
-Stormwater management – Techniques such as Bio Retention and Filtration are used to minimize the impact of roads during storms. These techniques help to re-route runoff from storm drains to specially landscaped areas on the side of the street.
-Recycled materials – By using recycled materials builders can reduce land filling, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Many reused and recycled materials perform as well or better than their conventional/virgin counterparts.
-Street lights use clean energy (i.e., solar or wind power)
-Increased native tree canopy and forest buffers
-Wildlife crossings to give safe passage for species
To learn more about green highways visit the Green Highways Partnership.
A particular project in the Mid-Atlantic that exemplifies green streets and low-impact development (LID) is in the town of Edmonston, Maryland. They rebuilt their main residential street (Decatur Street) to be a green street. Edmonston was a prime location to implement a project of this kind, due to its proximity to the Anacostia River and the Chesapeake Bay. Edmonston is at the forefront of LID, being the first town in Maryland (and possibly on the East Coast) to build something of this kind. Visit the Edmonston city website for more information on the project.
Have any new ideas about what can be done to help ‘green’ your neighborhood? Get out there and put them into practice! Plant trees at the edge of your yard, have a gravel driveway instead of a concrete one or plant a rain garden at the bottom of your gutter spout. And don’t be shy about sharing what you’ve learned with your neighbors or in the comments section below.