The “GreenSuite” – Ramping Up Green Infrastructure Guidance in San Mateo County
With Green Infrastructure Plans (GI Plans) on the horizon and growing concerns about improperly designed, constructed, and maintained green infrastructure projects, San Mateo County permittees embarked to create a summit to sea guidance suite to truly transform stormwater management from “gray” to “green.” In 2018, the San Mateo Countywide Pollution Prevention Program (the Program) created its countywide “GreenSuite” to set a new trend in green infrastructure planning that is designed to connect the dots across departments and for all audiences using visually strong layouts and field-ready components.
This presentation will show excerpts from the GreenSuite, illustrating how each component works individually and collectively and charting the evolution of the GreenSuite into an innovative toolkit that could be a model for advancing GI implementation more broadly. The GreenSuite builds off earlier guidance and integrates new elements and cutting-edge planning and design knowledge to create a complete package covering the full range of GI concerns, from policy to design and construction to operations and maintenance. This work directly supports the CASQA Vision to establish guidance and tools and policies to support sustainable stormwater programs.
The GreenSuite has five components: 1) Policy & Overview; 2) Sustainable Streets; 3) Buildings & Sites; 4) Operations & Maintenance; and 5) C.3 Technical Guide. The GreenSuite also has a Technical Resources element, which is a compilation of green infrastructure design standards, typical details, and specifications geared towards the specific stormwater measures in the Sustainable Streets and Buildings & Sites Guides. This new typology for building GI in the urban environment aims to foster efficiency and consistency, as users navigate from resource to resource. For instance, policy makers and local officials may benefit from the executive summary of the Policy & Overview Guide, which provides high-level goals for GI planning, regulatory context, and a simplified breakdown of GI measures referenced throughout the guides. Local engineers and planners may want to quickly reference the Sustainable Streets Guide for design recommendations and technical resources for a new stormwater curb extension. Field staff can jump to the Operations & Maintenance Guide for all things “O&M.”
The GreenSuite goes beyond efficiency. It also builds on growing trends in GI planning and deployment. With the surge of transit-oriented new development in the Bay Area, the Sustainable Streets Guide focuses on the concept of “sustainable streets,” integrating principles of complete streets and GI. Instead of thinking about GI solutions in isolation, the GreenSuite pushes the design and construction community to do more by integrating goals and optimizing infrastructure potential. To do this, the Sustainable Streets Guide includes considerations of pedestrian safety, mobility for all road users and opportunities to align water quality benefits with transportation improvements. The Buildings & Sites Guide includes more than the typical stormwater planter and bioretention area, and provides guidance on greenwalls, greenroofs, stormwater canopies and other more nuanced innovations, using visually compelling “before” and “after” layouts to show how transformations can happen. Finally, the Operations & Maintenance Guide also aims to advance GI. This guide targets long-terms sustainability and functionality by focusing on design considerations to reduce maintenance issues later, and offers solutions for regular maintenance required for any GI project.
Ultimately, the future of stormwater is green. But to get there, agencies will need to start thinking and working in an integrated way, across departments and across professions. The GreenSuite helps San Mateo permittees along this path, by providing to tools to confidently make the leap from “gray to green.”