Grey and green infrastructure solutions

Climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather events, which is creating challenges for local communities and the natural resource sector to operate and maintain their critical infrastructure, impacting their lifespan. Critical infrastructure that are facing impacts include: land transportation routes (road, railroads, bridges), buildings, water facilities (reservoirs, dams), marine structures (dikes, ports) and wastewater systems (treatment facilities, storm drains, pipes).

As aging infrastructure is upgraded or replaced, it is crucial that new infrastructure is designed and maintained with an eye to climate hazards. Adaptive measures can be taken to reduce costs and strengthen the resiliency and robustness of infrastructure.

There are different approaches to developing resilient infrastructure – from traditional engineered approaches (“grey infrastructure”) to approaches that seek to integrate natural elements (“green infrastructure”). Green infrastructure includes a range of forms, which can be engineered elements such as green roofs to natural assets like wetlands or marshes. Green infrastructure and nature-based climate solutions are advancing rapidly as an approach to strengthen community resilience. They produce multiple co-benefits such as improving human health and quality of life, stormwater management, emissions reduction, and enhancing air quality. Quite importantly, nature-based climate solutions play a critical role in protecting our ecosystems and biodiversity.