Green Streets

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One principle of green infrastructure involves reducing and treating stormwater close to its source. Urban transportation right-of-ways integrated with green techniques are often called “green streets”. Green Streets achieve multiple benefits, such as improved water quality and more livable communities, through the integration of stormwater treatment techniques which use natural processes and landscaping. Green streets can incorporate a wide variety of design elements. Although the design and appearance of green streets will vary, the functional goals are the same: provide source control of stormwater, limit its transport and pollutant conveyance to the collection system, and provide environmentally enhanced roads.

Street Trees and Curb Bulb Outs with Bioretention (Source: Low Impact Development Center)
Green Street Concept (Source: Low Impact Development Center)



Green Streets are designed to:

  • Mimic local hydrology prior to development
  • Provide multiple benefits along the street right of way including:
  • Integrated system of stormwater management within the right of way
  • Volume reductions in stormwater which reduce the volume of water discharged via pipe into receiving streams, rivers and larger bodies of water
  • Key linking component in community efforts to develop local green infrastructure networks
  • Aesthetic enhancement of the transit right of way
  • Improves local air quality by providing interception of airborne particulates and shade for cooling
  • Enhanced economic development along the transit corridor
  • Improved pedestrian experience along the street right of way.


Numerous approaches are available for creating Green Streets including:

  • Alternative Street Designs (Narrower Street Widths)
  • Swales
  • Bioretention Curb Extensions and Sidewalk Planters
  • Permeable Pavement
  • Sidewalk Trees and Tree Boxes


Check out this green streets poster and these photos.

Here's information about a new "green street" in Tacoma, Washington, the Growing Vine Street project in Seattle, Washington and the Baker Beach Green Street project in San Francisco. Here are more green infrastructure projects underway in San Francisco.

References and Additional Resources

LID Center - Green Streets

Portland Green Street Program

Chicago Industrial Corridor Turning Into Innovative 'Green Street'

Water Environment Research Foundation - Using Rainwater to Grow Livable Communities

Beachapedia - Low Impact Development