When rain falls on roofs, streets, and other paved areas, the water cannot soak into the ground and instead drains through gutters, storm sewers, and other engineered systems into nearby water bodies. That runoff carries trash, bacteria, and other pollutants. When rain falls in natural areas, soil and plants absorb the water and filter the pollution. Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other elements to protect, restore, or mimic the natural water cycle in order to manage stormwater and create healthier urban environments. Green infrastructure elements, such as rain gardens and permeable pavement, can be integrated into small sites all the way to large-scale elements spanning entire watersheds.

The Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI) conducts analyses and creates guides that support the expansion of green infrastructure into more communities to enhance public benefits.