On the Radio- Green infrastructure key to keeping urban flooding at bay

Green roofs are a type of green infrastructure (flickr).

Julia Poska | November 19, 2018

This week’s segment looks at flood mitigation approaches that incorporate nature into city design.


As Iowa’s extreme rain events intensify over time, flood management considerations will need to expand beyond river floodplains.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Floods commonly occur when rivers swell over their banks, but flooding can happen far from river systems, too.  Urban flooding occurs when drainage systems fail to move large amounts of storm water away from developed areas quickly.

According to the Iowa Climate Statement 2018, scientists forecast that daily rainfall in Iowa’s most extreme rain events will double by midcentury, meaning cities and towns will have even more water to manage.

One solution is to replace areas of impermeable concrete and asphalt with green infrastructure. These swaths of soil and vegetation absorb and slow down water to process it more naturally and reduce flooding.

Green infrastructure can be incorporated into sidewalks, buildings, backyards and even parking lots. Rain gardens, bio-swales, green roofs and more bring plants, soil and mulch into community design in attractive and helpful ways.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.




Des Moines selected for Greening America’s Capitals project

Photo by jimmywayne, Flickr.
Photo by jimmywayne, Flickr.

Des Moines has been selected this year as one of five cities to take part in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greening America’s Capitals project.

This project incorporates green building and green infrastructure strategies on parts of the cities, which can be used as a model for future construction projects.

In Des Moines, the project will focus on the 6th Avenue Corridor. The environmentally friendly plans include adding street trees, permeable pavement and rain gardens.

Read more from Iowa Public Radio here.

UI building receives LEED gold rating

Photo by Wolfram Burner, Flickr.

The University of Iowa’s Struit Hall has received a LEED gold rating.

Struit Hall primarily serves as a home for UI’s clinical psychology program. It earned the gold rating in part because of its daylighting, rain garden, motion sensor lighting and numerous recycling options.

UI’s Beckwith Boat House, the Sports Medicine Clinic and the State Hygienic Laboratory have also received the LEED gold rating.

LEED gold is the second highest designation for green buildings.

For more information, read an article from Iowa Now here.

Coe College builds their first rain garden

Coe College is in the midst of constructing their first rain garden. The garden is funded by the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency and donations from 2008 Coe College graduates.

Rain gardens typically contain deep-rooted plants which capture rainwater runoff before it reaches a sewer system.

The Coe College rain garden serves a second purpose of providing an area for Coe’s students to study environmental issues.

More information on Coe College’s green efforts is available here.