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Water: Green Infrastructure

Spend Less Energy Managing Water

Storm drain
Why Green InfrastructureHow to Resources
Why Green Infrastructure
Treating and moving drinking water and wastewater takes a lot of energy.[1] By reducing rainwater flows into sewer systems, recharging aquifers and conserving water, green infrastructure can significantly reduce municipal and domestic energy use.[2][3]

After projects are in the ground, cities, states or regional entities may want to tie energy efficiency savings back to reduced demand at power plants. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation recently developed a tool called AVERT (Avoided Emissions and Regeneration Tool) to assist with this task. By utilizing local use and grid data, AVERT is able to estimate county-level emissions reductions at electric power plants from energy efficiency or renewable energy upgrades.

Rainwater storage pond
How To
Start by prioritizing where to place distributed green infrastructure practices in your community for maximum rainwater storage and infiltration. Communities with combined sanitary and stormwater sewers may want to use hydrologic and hydraulic modeling to identify ideal combinations of green and gray infrastructure within a given treatment area. For more information and case studies on how communities can demonstrate green infrastructure contributions to reducing combined sewer overflows, click here (PDF) (38 pp, 2MB, About PDF).

While still in the planning process, cities can estimate reduced pumping cost figures to help make the case for green infrastructure investments. By using green infrastructure within their combined sewer area, Lancaster, Pa., estimates they will reduce stormwater flows into their system by 700 million gallons, reaping over $600,000 in annual savings.[4] A similar study by Milwaukee, Wis., estimates future annual savings of $1.3 million due to reduced pumping and wastewater treatment.[5]

Home in Seattle
AVERT : AVoided Emissions and reGeneration Tool. Developed by EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, this tool helps estimate the emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and programs.

Climate Ready Water Utilities : EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities initiative assists the water sector, which includes drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities in addressing climate change impacts. By developing practical and easy-to-use tools, practitioners can access clear climate science and adaptation options by translating complex climate projections into accessible formats.

Greening CSO Plans: Planning and Modeling Green Infrastructure for Combined Sewer Overflow (PDF) (38 pp, 2MB, About PDF) : An EPA guide on modeling green infrastructure contributions to combined sewer overflow long term Control plans. Includes a case study on how to model reduction in total wastewater flows using dynamic hydrologic and hydraulic modeling.

Water Efficiency Saves Energy: Reducing Global Warming Pollution through Water Use Strategies (PDF) (4 pp, 763K, About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer : National Resources Defense Council report outlining energy efficiency opportunities relating to water.


1. Natural Resources Defense Council. (2009). Water Efficiency Saves Energy: Reducing Global Warming Pollution Through Water Use Strategies .. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.nrdc.org/water/files/energywater.pdf (4 pp, 763K, About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer.

2. Spatari, S., Yu, Z., & Montalto, F. A. (2011). Life cycle implications of urban green infrastructure. Environmental Pollution, 159, 2174-2179. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://ccrun.org/sites/ccrun/files/attached_files/2011_spatari_etall.pdf Exit EPA Disclaimer.

3. De Sousa, M. R. C., Montalto, F. A. and Spatari, S. (2012). Using Life Cycle Assessment to Evaluate Green and Grey Combined Sewer Overflow Control Strategies. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 16: 901–913. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2012.00534.x.

4. U.S. EPA. (2014). The Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure: A Case Study of Lancaster, PA. Online resource. Available: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/upload/CNT-Lancaster-Report-508.pdf (20 pp, 1.2MB, About PDF).

5. Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Green Infrastructure Benefits and Costs: Draft Final MMSD Regional Green Infrastructure Plan. Online Resource. Available: http://h2ocapture.com/PDF/05_Benefits_Costs_Draft_Final.pdf (14 pp, 3MB, About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer.

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