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Green Infrastructure and Jobs

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Natural infrastructure refers to natural systems that provide solutions that assist with climate mitigation and adaptation/resilience. This can include the planting of trees to keep summer surface temperatures lower, absorb, filter and slow the path of stormwater to the Mississippi River, and absorb carbon from the atmosphere. The Saint Paul Climate Action and Resilience Plan sets a goal of increasing tree canopy coverage to 40%, with a focus on those parts of our community most vulnerable to the impacts of a warming climate and the urban heat island effect.

The planting of long-rooted prairie grasses and other plants that absorb and sequester in the soil more carbon dioxide than turf grass is another example of the use of natural infrastructure. Raingardens and stormwater ponds can help ensure that more stormwater infiltrates into the soil rather than running directly into stormwater pipes and to the River can improve water quality and reduce our community’s contribution to downriver flooding.

Natural Infrastructure

Protect natural infrastructure and enhance it to maximize its ability to mitigate weather and climate impacts


  • Update the citywide urban tree canopy assessment every ten years and maintain a current street tree inventory to achieve at least 40% citywide canopy coverage and 15% canopy coverage in downtown, consistent with the 2040 Comprehensive Plan
  • Accelerate tree replacement programming in neighborhoods that will be most impacted by urban heat island effect and Emerald Ash Borer
  • Prioritize tree planting in areas of concentrated poverty and low tree canopy coverage
  • Build relationships and trust with community members; support early maintenance and care of trees
  • Engage faith, civic, and citizen groups to partner to organize volunteer opportunities to plant public and private trees
  • Consider rooftop solar access in commercial and industrial districts when determining which types of trees to plant
  • Promote the proactive replacement of declining ash trees with a diverse mix of species to build urban forest resiliency and maintain canopy cover
  • Use vegetative cover to help stabilize slopes, reduce slope failure, and minimize waterbody sedimentation
  • Expand and connect green spaces so they are welcoming and within walking distance of all residents, especially in underserved communities where there are greater proportions of impervious surfaces
  • Improve the ecological functionality of and resiliency of parks and open space through green infrastructure, best practices for stormwater management, and increased plant diversity and pollinator-friendly habitat
  • Foster environmental stewardship, community health, and cultural and ecological learnings along the Mississippi River through the implementation of the Great River Passage Initiative
  • Encourage the use of low-impact landscaping to reduce consumption of water and chemicals in yard and lawn maintenance, improve permeability to reduce stormwater runoff, and sequester more carbon in soil
  • Encourage the use of Minimal Impact Design Standards (MIDs) for new development
  • Ensure availability of high quality compost from organics collection to businesses and residents to help improve soil quality
  • Ensure water treatment and distribution infrastructure is resilient to potential hazards
  • Support regional efforts to address groundwater usage and recharge
  • Collaborate with partner agencies on water quality improvement efforts, including capital projects and programming
  • Implement additional strategies included in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan to improve the resilience of natural infrastructure through an equity lens

Built Infrastructure

Ensure the long-term integrity and reliability of built infrastructure systems by considering future climate impacts in long-term planning

  • Include life-cycle costs when preparing asset management plans and selecting construction materials and equipment for city projects
  • Explicitly incorporate resilience into the capital improvement planning process
  • Identify critical infrastructure facilities and ensure there is reliable, clean back-up energy in case of a power outage
  • Pilot opportunities to test and demonstrate the value of a smart grid or microgrid technologies, including tie-ins with electric vehicles and solar plus storage
  • Work with the electric utility to bury distribution lines when feasible
  • Invest in cost-effective materials for road surfaces that are robust enough to withstand extreme weather events, including heavy precipitation and freeze/thaw cycles
  • Install white roof or high albedo membrane on low slope municipal rooftops to reflect heat from the sun and reduce urban heat island effect
  • Encourage the installation of white roof or high albedo membrane on privately owned, low slope rooftops
  • Encourage the installation of green roofs, when feasible, on flat rooftops
  • Assess city-owned buildings and sites for vulnerabilities to extreme weather, and make investments to reduce or prevent damage and sustain function
  • Reduce impervious surfaces where possible, and use lighter colored pavements and building materials to lessen the impact of urban heat island effect

  • Reduce consumption of water and chemicals in your yard
  • Create and plant gardens
    • Native plant/ pollinator gardens
    • Vegetable gardens
    • Rain gardens
  • Volunteer to plant trees
  • Advocate for green infrastructure