THE SIGNIFICANCE OF URBAN GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE (UGI)
16 October, 2023
Over the years, Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) has become increasingly important for making our communities healthy, walkable, and better prepared for climate challenges.
Recognising its potential to save energy, enhance property values, and extend the lifespan of buildings, both public and private sectors have embraced the concept, sparking a green revolution in our cities.
However, the absence of a standardised national framework has resulted in different approaches across government and private businesses, and inconsistent outcomes.
That’s where Greener Spaces, Better Places comes into play with a new project to create a Urban Greening Infrastructure (UGI) handbook to standardise a national framework.
Meet David Martin: The UGI Advocate
That's where David Martin comes in. David is a Registered Landscape Architect and Sustainability Strategist and designs outdoor spaces, cares about the environment, and played a big role in creating the UGI Handbook.
The UGI Handbook, launched by Standards Australia in early 2023, aimed to address these issues by providing tools, harmonising guidelines, and creating incentives for UGI integration. It also aspires to initiate legislation, align with funding processes, and foster a shared understanding of UGI among stakeholders.
David believes that having a consistent framework for UGI across Australia is integral for the future of this field.
"UGI isn't just a ‘nice to have’ anymore. It helps save on energy costs, adds to property values and increases the longevity of buildings themselves," said David.
Key Components of the Handbook
The UGI Handbook comprises vital components such as nationally consistent terminology, guidance for all UGI elements, progress measurement, integration with other infrastructures, a practical framework for diverse projects, and a decision framework for high-quality UGI implementation.
Challenges and Development of the UGI Framework
Before the UGI handbook’s introduction, several challenges plagued its adoption:
Inconsistent Approaches: Diverse approaches across jurisdictions.
Lack of Incentives: Absence of mechanisms to encourage UGI retention.
Varied Understanding: A lack of shared knowledge hindered progress.
The Handbook is designed for a wide array of professionals, including planners, urban experts, policy makers, grant applicants, landowners, and investors across all Australian jurisdictions.
Benefits for Growers
The Handbook actively promotes green infrastructure's benefits, stimulating demand for green elements and creating future business opportunities for nurseries.
It fosters collaboration among stakeholders and advocates for legislation and incentives, ensuring a steady demand for your products and services.
Momentum continues to build for a consistent, national approach to UGI in Australia. Initiatives like a nation-wide research project led by Dr. Paula Hooper aim to improve consistency in open space planning and management.
David emphasizes the need for nationally accepted benefit/cost and rating tools and formal recognition of UGI as an asset class to reshape the sector's perspective on UGI.
“This handbook's purpose is to reshape the sector's perspective on UGI, rendering it a necessity rather than a luxury,” said David.
‘Urban Green Infrastructure — Planning and decision framework’ was developed by Standards Australia in consultation with a committee of representatives from nine organisations, spanning government, science, peak industry groups, and UGI professionals.
This project is facilitated by Greener Space Better Places which is funded through the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund, using the Nursery marketing levy. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.