Background material

See also Press and Blogs.

Green Infrastructure (GI) and SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems)

  • Greening CSO Plans: Planning and Modeling Green Infrastructure for Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control, US Environmental Protection Agency, Mar 2014. An excellent text that highlights everything which is not being done in the London for some reason.

    Given the multiple environmental, economic and social benefits associated with green infrastructure, EPA has supported and encouraged the implementation of green infrastructure for stormwater runoff and sewer overflow management to the maximum extent possible.

  • The Green Edge – How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value, Natural Resources Defence Council, Dec 2013. Green infrastructure — water quality management techniques which mimic natural hydrologic functions — has been proven to help solve major urban stormwater problems and improve the health and livability of neighborhoods. This report focuses and quantifies additional value that green infrastructure, when used on private property, can provide to commercial property owners and their tenants.
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), released July 2013 by the Landscape Institute, a short and captivating animation focussing on the importance of the water cycle and how Water Sensitive Urban Design, incorporating SuDS and more generally Green Infrastructure, can help meet today’s challenges of water conservation and management.
  • European Commission Biodiversity and green infrastructure guidelines, published in 2013. The European Commission is working towards a long-overdue EU-wide strategy on Green Infrastructure, which will very likely prohibit unsustainable ‘grey’ developments when more effective GI alternatives are available.  See also the brochure Building a Green Infrastructure for Europe.

    Green Infrastructure investments are generally characterized by a high level of return over time, provide job opportunities, and can be a cost-effective alternative to ‘grey’ infrastructure.
    European Commission guidelines on Nature & Biodiversity

  • US Environment Protection Agency Green Infrastructure. Comprehensive resource that explains the multi-faceted benefits of GI applied in the specific context of integrated water management.
  • Green Infrastructure Investments for Healthy, Sustainable Cities, US Environment Protection Agency, Nov 2012. A very accessible toolkit by the EPA that clearly communicates benefits of GI.
  • Rooftops to Rivers (volume I, 2006 and volume II, 2011, with Oct 2013 update; Natural Resources Defense Council) seminal work presenting the pollution problems caused by stormwater – particularly contaminated runoff and sewage overflows. Discusses in depth how communities use green infrastructure techniques to clean up their waterways and to bring multiple valuable benefits to city residents.
  • Blue Green UK – a coalition of renowned UK academics and experts who provide robust studies and evidence on the need for London to adopt what they describe as “Blue-Green Infrastructure” as soon as possible.
  • CIRIA SUDS section operated by the Construction Industry Research and Information Association for developers that are willing to embrace sensible 21st century design to address 21st century issues. Extensive source of info.
  • Susdrain, the community for sustainable drainage. A new initiative by CIRIA to bring all the relevant information under a roof, with case studies, complete with videos, a solutions directory, blogs and even a forum. This promises to become an interesting lively focal point.
  • Green and Blue Space (Grabs) is an EU-wide network of leading organisations involved in integrating climate change adaptation into regional planning and development pursuing Green and Blue adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns.
  • The retrofit SUDS group focuses on debunking the myths (favoured by developers and some short-sighted politicians) that SUDS can only be effectively implemented in new developments.
  • Retrofitting Green Infrastructure for Rainwater – What’s Stopping Us? A Report by the Foundation for Water Research, focussing on the overlooked feasibility of retrofitting… Why is this not being aggressively implemented?
  • Dealing with the Deluge: Urban water management in a changing climate, a WWF/RSA report on issues close to our heart (Jan 2011) – now how can WWF actually support the TTT??
  • 21st-Century Water Solutions – An Overview of How U.S. Cities are Using Green Infrastructure to Curb Stormwater Runoff and Resulting Combined Sewage Overflows; Natural Resources Defense Council, 2011.
  • SWITCH in the city – putting urban water management to the test – The Sustainable Water Management Improves Tomorrows Cities Health (SWITCH) project was a major research partnership funded by the European Commission over the period 2006 to 2011. It involved an implementing consortium of 33 partners from 15 countries. SWITCH involved innovation in the area of sustainable urban water management often also referred to as integrated urban water management (IUWM). This ambitious project looked towards water management in the ‘city of the future’ and aimed to challenge existing patterns and to find and promote more sustainable alternatives to the conventional ways of managing urban water.
  • The Value of Green Infrastructure A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefit, Center for Neighborhood Technology, sponsored by American Rivers, 2010.
  • SUDSnet has a lot of information on SUDS, organizes events and advertises related career opportunities.
  • Environment Agency SUDS information – did you know that in Scotland surface water run-off from all new developments must be drained by SuDS? Why is England and particularly London lagging so far behind?

Green roofs

Rainwater harvesting

Climate Change impact

  • The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation (Center for Clean Air Policy, 2011). Focusses on costs/benefits of Green Infra for bolstering local adaptation to climate change and improving air quality – citing CSO mitigation as a side benefit. In London, we’d cite air quality improvements as the side benefit to CSO mitigation. Bottom line, GI kills multiple nasty birds in one swell stone!
  • The Green Economy Coalition Big Picture – Hugely valuable read that will get you thinking: what are we doing to our planet and our people? Identifies Seven system flaws a picture in which our issues fit very well indeed. Short termism, deregulated markets (how on earth can we be content with profit-driven offshore financiers managing our most precious natural resource?), Governance Deficit and Inadequate Metrics all feature high on the Thames Tunnel map. It will come as no surprise that counter-measures include “Investing in natural capital” and “Greening high impact sectors and services“. Here’s a once-in-our-lifetime opportunity to get this right, right on our doorsteps. How can we miss it?

Green Industry, Green Economy and Green Collar Jobs

Why is water important for the green economy? Water is so connected with everything else that if you don’t solve the water problem you don’t solve anything else.
Prof Colin Green, Water in the Green Economy in Practice

  • Green Infrastructure & Economic Development – Strategies to Foster Opportunity for Marginalized Communities – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Community Innovators Lab, Green Economic Development Initiative (GEDI), March 28, 2013 — draws lessons from GI initiatives in NYC, Portland (and Philadelphia to a lesser extent), suggesting strategies to maximize the GI triple bottom line outcomes of environmental sustainability, social justice, and environmental opportunity.
  • Capturing the Storm: Profits, Jobs, and Training in Philadelphia’s Stormwater Industry – an analysis of Green Collar job creation following the bold decision by the City of Philadelphia to embrace Green Infrastructure to mitigate CSO problems. The outcome is impressive: 2,400 firms, 32,000 employees, and in excess of $7.4 billion in sales. This is a lasting legacy, unlike the 800 or so local TTT-related jobs which would mostly disappear when the tunnel is commissioned…
  • Green Collar Jobs – An Analysis of the Capacity of Green Businesses to Provide High Quality Jobs for Men and Women with Barriers to Employment, by Prof Raquel Pinderhughes, Ph. D. A very relevant study that demonstrates that Green Collar Jobs are “good jobs”, which are well suited for workers with barriers to employment. They provide them with a rewarding, life-enhancing opportunity, which, in some cases, can help re-integrate them into society by feeling the positive value of what they are contributing.
  • Banking on Green: A Look at How Green Infrastructure Can Save Municipalities Money and Provide Economic Benefits Community-wide: A seminal joint report by American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Landscape Architects and ECONorthwest (April 2012). It’s interesting to note that rivers charities in the US seem a lot more in tune with Green Infrastructure than those in the UK (could this have anything to do with the privatized water industry in the UK?)
  • Strategies for a Green Economy: Investing in Nature as Water Infrastructure an IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) briefing on best practices in properly valuing the often overlooked value of Green Infrastructure in providing integrated water infrastructure benefits.
  • Making Green Work – Best Practices in Green-Collar Job Training, by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; how to implement a successful green industry with case studies.

Related Issues

Water metering

  • Fairness on tap – a well thought-out programme that lobbies for water metering to be implemented in at least 80% of UK households by 2020, bringing on a fair deal for both consumers and the environment. Affordability for vulnerable consumers would be safeguarded; consistent metering will save money (~ £1.5bn) for deployment and water savings of at least 10-15% will alleviate potential droughts and relieve pressure on the sewage network. See also their whitepaper.

Water main leakages

Water industry carbon footprint and climate change


(a lot more resources to be posted. Please let us know which you’d like to see first and/or if you can help us put this info together).