By Dr. Anna Zakrisson
New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Photo courtesy of greenscreen
Urban green spaces provide a much-needed oasis for relaxation and rejuvenation, supporting wildlife, tackling climate change, and cooling urban areas during heat waves. Governments and institutions worldwide have implemented programs and policies to support green development.
This article provides an overview of green infrastructure policies, highlighting key strategies and successful initiatives in the US and EU.
Comparing the US and the EU
The US and EU prioritize green infrastructure, incentivizing individuals and businesses with financial perks ranging from tax breaks to grants and loans. The EU provides directives, funding opportunities, and incentives at multiple levels, while the US primarily establishes regulations and initiatives at the state or municipal level. Despite bureaucratic and financial challenges, both regions offer excellent programs and initiatives supporting green infrastructure.
Seattle Center. Photo courtesy of greenscreen
Seattle, Chicago, and NYC are among the US cities leading the way in incorporating green infrastructure into urban settings. Seattle and Chicago offer incentives such as tax abatement, expedited permitting, and grants to help create financial viability for green infrastructure projects. The Seattle Green Factor (SGF) and the Chicago green stormwater infrastructure plan are excellent examples of programs that incentivize investment in related projects.
Meanwhile, NYC is ambitiously striving for carbon neutrality through Local Law 97, which sets strict limits on building emissions and promotes green infrastructure. Financial incentives for private landowners, such as the Green Infrastructure Grant program and the Green Building Tax Credit normalize sustainable development.
Overall, continued policy promotion and support can ensure more cities follow suit in prioritizing the inclusion of green infrastructure into our urban settings.
The EU has taken initiatives through policy and funding incentives to promote green infrastructure projects that aim to fight climate change and environmental degradation.
The European Structural and Investment Funds have been a significant source of financing for green infrastructure projects through direct grants and loans. Additionally, the European Green Deal has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.
Furthermore, the European Investment Bank provides loans for investments in clean energy sources, a cost-effective alternative to commercial loans. National and local municipalities, and private institutions, offer funding opportunities to support sustainable development and reduce emissions throughout the EU.
Hamburg, Germany has emerged as a leader in green infrastructure policies launching an ambitious green roof strategy to cover 70% of new buildings and suitable roofs. The city also offers grants, tax credits, and subsidized loans for residents and businesses to install green infrastructure. Successful outcomes include lowered emissions, economic growth, and financial incentives for small to large corporations.
Climate change in Austria is affecting the Alpine Region with more hot days, severe storms, and increasingly common urban heat islands. Several Austrian municipalities are planting new trees and using green roofs and walls for energy efficiency and stormwater protection to address these challenges. Vienna has also been proactive in providing subsidies for green infrastructure and building renovation, with support from Austria's green roof association, Grün-Statt-Grau (GSG).
Insight from both sides of the Atlantic
The US Census building in Suitland, Maryland. Photo courtesy of greenscreen
Financial motivations and policies are available from both the US and the EU to support green infrastructure development in urban areas. While high-level directives, funding, and incentives exist at different levels in the EU, the US primarily offers green infrastructure policies focused at the state or municipal level. Learning from successful examples like Seattle, Chicago, Hamburg, and Vienna can inspire more cities to prioritize sustainable practices.
Ultimately, we all share the responsibility of caring for the planet we call home.
This blog post was written by an independent writer and is not intended as legal or investment advice. The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for making any decisions related to purchasing, investing, or other financial matters. Please consult with a professional financial advisor before making any such decisions.