On Earth Day each year, we are reminded to appreciate the earth’s environment and the issues that threaten it. A key part of the work FEMA does to create greener, more sustainable communities is implementing nature-based solutions to preventing damage from future disasters and rebuilding after them. These solutions weave natural features or processes into the built environment. The goal is to create a world that works with nature, not against it.
There are many communities that have made the earth greener through FEMA pre-disaster and post-disaster mitigation grants. The grants help communities with projects such as using solar power as back up energy, building stormwater parks and creating defensible spaces.
One award-winning project, the Virginia Wetland Protection Project, focused on installing rock breakwaters to protect the shoreline. It restored 25 acres of marsh through the planting of native seedlings and other plant material. The restored wetland served as a buffer zone for the Galveston Causeway and helps to protect the nearby industrial wastewater treatment facility. You can read more about these type of projects in FEMA’s Mitigation Action Portfolio.
There are many steps you can take in your own community to help create more green space. Here are four ways you can take action to make your living or working space greener and more sustainable.
Defensible Space Using Succulents
If you live in areas prone to wildfires, your home should have defensible space to give firefighters the greatest possible opportunity to stop fires. Defensible space is about the placement and spacing of your plants in the landscape and especially the maintenance of your landscaping. Succulents are some of the best plants to add to your property to create that defensible space. This is because they are good at storing water and have low levels of oil and extensive roots.
A rain garden is a shallow, vegetated basin that collects and absorbs runoff from rooftops, sidewalks and streets. Rain gardens can be added around homes and businesses to reduce and treat stormwater runoff.
A green roof is fitted with a planting medium and vegetation. A green roof reduces runoff by soaking up rainfall. It can also reduce energy costs for cooling the building. Intensive green roofs, which have deeper soil, are more common on commercial buildings. Extensive green roofs, which have shallower soil, are more common on residential buildings.
Solar power, while not entirely nature- based, can generate renewable energy. This solution helps fulfil low carbon energy needs through production methods originating from natural sources. Installing solar panels can provide both carbon emission and electricity cost savings.
To find more ways you and your community can make a difference, check out the guide Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions. Visit EarthDay.org to read more about how you can celebrate the earth.