Typically, communities carefully plan and fund "gray" infrastructure, the roads, sewers, utilities and buildings before development occurs. The same level of investment and approval is needed for green infrastructure. Green infrastructure land planning encourages conservation of natural resources and directs development to suitable areas. Green infrastructure planning identifies and ranks vital natural resources in concert with other community needs and alongside gray infrastructure prior to development. This planning methodology guides land development and growth in ways that accommodate increased populations, but also protects natural resources providing long-term economic viability and community sustainability.
Green infrastructure planning integrates outdoor recreation, open space, cultural resources and conservation lands into ongoing planning and land use management decisions. Using green infrastructure land planning guides development to less sensitive lands, which reduces time needed for permits, lowers costs of development, protects water quality and creates sustainable communities. Opportunities for strategically linking linear corridors of land together in this planning process maximizes environmental, habitat and human benefits of development created to meet the needs of growing populations.
The use of a green infrastructure planning model results in the protection of undeveloped land and waterways that provide essential benefits to society - clean air, clean water, food, fiber, open space for recreation and a sense of place. Green infrastructure is integral to long-term effective management of natural and cultural resources that support ecological health and quality of life for citizens of the Commonwealth.