Green Stormwater Infrastructure voluntary or pricing-based adoption by the private sector has been slow so far. This is understandable- it is difficult to get homeowners and businesses to make physical changes to their properties ahead of the natural time of replacement, and even harder if property owners don’t understand the function of the infrastructure itself. This latter point is particularly resonant for distributed stormwater management infrastructure. Compared to energy efficiency retrofits, for example, which has an easily conceptualized consumption component to it, what are you “consuming” by having large areas of impervious surface on your property? It’s hard to communicate and get political buy-in of the “payback” of such fee, retrofit and credit policies.

A rain garden engineered to intercept runoff from a rooftop could just look like a beautiful landscape feature. Social media integration would help neighbors become aware of its function. Source: Philadelphia Water Department.
A rain garden engineered to intercept runoff from a rooftop could just look like a beautiful landscape feature. Social media integration would help neighbors become aware of its function. Source: Philadelphia Water Department.

One key to more widespread adoption instead should be to promote citizen buy-in to the other benefits of green infrastructure: beautification, subsidized landscaping upgrades, and appeals to individuals’ social  pressure to “do the right thing.” The goal should be to promote the idea that “everyone is doing it.” Social media could be a great way of getting people to talk about the availability of stormwater management programs and making them more visible. Installation of a rain garden (a facility specifically designed to intercept rain runoff) for example might not look like anything more than a landscaping upgrade. But if it is promoted as a “rain garden” to one’s neighbors, the program becomes contagious.

Here are a collection of tools that could be useful for promoting neighborhood-based “contagion” of GI program awareness. I like the way the physical environment and the virtual social networks come together through social networks in these. That’s going to be key for GI adoption.

  1. Neighborland
  2. Nationbuilder
  3. Nextdoor

Definitely interested in any others you know of, or examples of cases where you have used social media to promote awareness of public infrastructure programs or public involvement in private property upgrades or changes.

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