NERC Green Infrastructure Innovation Projects 

Working together with natural systems provides a range of benefits to society, from reduction of climate change impacts and protection against floods and environmental disasters to carbon storage, clean water and air. This idea has led to the concept of Green Infrastructure (GI): a network of natural and semi-natural features that intersperses and connects villages, towns and cities. For many reasons, however, much of UK’s infrastructure does not currently fit with the description of GI. To address this shortcoming, two NERC funded projects were set up to highlight innovative measures that include or improve GI in and alongside grey infrastructure and to help decision making. 

The projects focus on fluvial, coastal, urban and historic built environments. They point to innovative opportunities to alter practices, change methods or select different materials to incorporate habitat in new build, repairs, improvements and to retrofit.


Led by HR Wallingford


Led by University of Glasgow & University of Oxford

Implementing Green Infrastructure Approaches to River Engineering Protection Measures 

This project has produced new evidence-based support for asset managers, engineers, decision-makers and other end-users to identify the critical success factors to select and implement green engineering approaches for river engineering.  

Green Infrastructure approaches promote the conservation and restoration of the natural character of river corridors, improving their water quality, morphology and ecosystems as well as helping communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

The publication Green approaches in river engineering: supporting implementation of Green Infrastructure brings together the strategic arguments and the technical information needed to support the selection of GI approaches and, through a series of case studies, provides evidence on construct-ability, engineering performance and environmental and social benefits.

Event presentations: GI for River, Coast and Urban Environments

Report: Green approaches in river engineering: supporting implementation of Green Infrastructure

A Decision Framework for Integrated Green Grey Infrastructure (IGGIframe) 

This project collates findings from a number of innovative green grey infrastructure projects, and in response to feedback from practitioners, it contains data relevant to creating business cases to support increased uptake of IGGI.The objective of this project is to support design teams and decision makers – developers and communities, infrastructure providers, Local Authorities, national agencies, public bodies, asset managers and end-users to identify the values of a green approach compared to business as usual grey options, evaluated against a set of critical success factors. It is hoped that it can inform these groups, and individuals (engineers, regulators, planners, architects, urban designers, geomorphologists, landscape architects, hydrologists, ecologists and other decision-makers) and support them in deciding how appropriate a green grey infrastructure approach may be over business-as-usual, less environmentally sympathetic, more traditional engineering approaches.

The project was led by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with the University of Oxford, the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Natural England, Historic England, CIRIA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Historic Environment Scotland, HR Wallingford and others, as part of a Natural Environment Research Council funded innovation project.

Event presentations: GI for River, Coast and Urban Environments

Event report:
Greening the grey: a framework for integrated green grey infrastructure (IGGI)