Moira Zellner, associate professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy, at the University of Illinois, speaks on: "How Effective is Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management?"
State and local governments are increasingly considering the adoption of legislation to promote green infrastructure (e.g., bioswales, green roofs) for stormwater management. This interest emerges from higher frequencies of combined sewer outflows, floods and exposure of residents and habitat to polluted water resulting from growing urbanization and related pressure on stormwater management facilities. While this approach is promising, there are many unknowns about the effects of specific implementation aspects (e.g., scale, layout), particularly as urban settlements and climate conditions change over time. If green infrastructure is to be required by law, these aspects need to be better understood. We developed a spatially-explicit process-based model (the Landscape Green Infrastructure Design model, L-GriD) developed to understand how the design of green infrastructure may affect performance at a neighborhood scale, taking into consideration the magnitude of storm events, and the spatial layout of different kinds of land cover. We inform the mechanisms in our model with established hydrological models. We use L-GrID to explore questions about how much green infrastructure would be needed to address neighborhood flooding, and in what spatial arrangements they may be more effective. We also present a participatory modeling protocol that we developed around L-GrID simulations, to allow diverse stakeholders to collaborate in the design and evaluation of different green infrastructure scenarios for their community, enabling them to discuss the inevitable tradeoffs that arise from green infrastructure planning.
Moira Zellner is an associate professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy, a research associate professor in the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, and the Director of the Urban Data Visualization Lab at UIC. Having completed her undergraduate degree in ecology in Argentina, she pursued graduate studies in urban and regional planning and in complex systems at the University of Michigan. In her position at UIC, Dr. Zellner has served as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator in interdisciplinary projects examining how specific policy, technological and behavioral factors influence the emergence and impacts of a range of complex environmental problems, where interaction effects make responsibilities and burdens unclear. Her research also examines the value of complexity-based modeling for participatory policy exploration and social learning with stakeholders and decision-makers.