kansas city sustainabilityWhen Kansas City, Missouri, was faced with the challenge of containing its sewage overflow, did more than patch it. It came up with a $2.5 billion eco-friendly plan to fix it and create a sewage overflow program that would be nationally recognized as the largest green infrastructure plan in the country. Let’s explore some of the aspects of this project that make it green infrastructure.

Rain Gardens

These gardens are planted in strategic areas around a city to soak up rainwater from roofs, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and other impervious surfaces in an urban environment. The rain garden is a green alternative to storm drains, which can cause erosion, water pollution and flooding if they become backed up. The rain gardens typically contain local, hearty vegetation that requires or can withstand plentiful water.


These landscape elements are designed to capture silt and pollution from runoff water. They work by channeling the water through shallow troughs or ditches filled with compost, gravel or vegetation to catch the pollutants. Bioswales are commonly found around parking lots or areas of high automobile traffic, since the amount of pollution that settles into the water source there is higher than in many other areas of the city.

Permeable Pavement

This new paving solution is great for allowing runoff water to trickle into the soil below, while preventing the pollutants from getting into the soil as well. Permeable pavement is exactly what it sounds like: a surface just permeable enough to prevent water from collecting or running off the surface, causing erosion and concentration of pollutants in the water supply. This type of pavement is beneficial for trees in urban settings because it gives the trees more room to expand their root structure.

Green Roofs

These terraformed building toppers get their name not only from being eco-friendly but also because most incorporate bright green vegetation. Also called living roofs, they absorb rainwater, provide insulation and help cool air temperatures in the city. Plus, they can be a beautiful lunch destination and can create an urban oasis high atop a building.