The green experiment: Cities, green stormwater infrastructure, and sustainability

Christopher M. Chini, James F. Canning, Kelsey L. Schreiber, Joshua M. Peschel, Ashlynn S. Stillwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Green infrastructure is a unique combination of economic, social, and environmental goals and benefits that requires an adaptable framework for planning, implementing, and evaluating. In this study, we propose an experimental framework for policy, implementation, and subsequent evaluation of green stormwater infrastructure within the context of sociotechnical systems and urban experimentation. Sociotechnical systems describe the interaction of complex systems with quantitative and qualitative impacts. Urban experimentation-traditionally referencing climate change programs and their impacts-is a process of evaluating city programs as if in a laboratory setting with hypotheses and evaluated results. We combine these two concepts into a singular framework creating a policy feedback cycle (PFC) for green infrastructure to evaluate municipal green infrastructure plans as an experimental process within the context of a sociotechnical system. After proposing and discussing the PFC, we utilize the tool to research and evaluate the green infrastructure programs of 27 municipalities across the United States. Results indicate that green infrastructure plans should incorporate community involvement and communication, evaluation based on project motivation, and an iterative process for knowledge production. We suggest knowledge brokers as a key resource in connecting the evaluation stage of the feedback cycle to the policy phase. We identify three important needs for green infrastructure experimentation: (i) a fluid definition of green infrastructure in policy; (ii) maintenance and evaluation components of a green infrastructure plan; and (iii) communication of the plan to the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Green infrastructure
  • Sociotechnical systems
  • Urban experiments
  • Urban water policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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