Green infrastructure is becoming a prominently used term in planning, policies, and goals at all levels of government and throughout the country. But the term means different things to different people. In fact, there is enough variety in the green infrastructure concepts being bantered about that the definition of green infrastructure is a main tenant of one article (Allen 2012) in this special issue of Environmental Practice. The use of the term can indeed become very confusing among the uninitiated. Green washing is a term used to describe services or products that make an unsubstantiated claim of being green. Thus, it is important, as several of our authors note in this special issue, to be clear about what is meant by green infrastructure so as to not end up with it on the heap of green washing or discarded buzzwords.
(Online publication March 20 2012)
Jeffrey L. Mengler is a senior project scientist with Cardno Entrix and works on various environmental projects throughout the Midwest. These projects have included spill response and damage assessment in groundwater systems, Endangered Species Act compliance, and habitat restoration. Prior to joining Cardno Entrix, he worked as a senior biologist for the Chicago field office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for 18 years. For many years, he was responsible for nearly all Clean Water Act section 404, Rivers and Harbors Act section 10, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and other federal project reviews for the six-county Chicago region. This included participation in the Mitigation Banking Review Team, several endangered species consultations, and two countywide advanced identification (ADID) wetland studies. He also provided local watershed and ecosystem partnerships with technical assistance in habitat restoration and other watershed projects. He served as primary author and editor of the Native Plant Guide for Streams and Stormwater Management Facilities in Northeastern Illinois (2008), published by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Illinois EPA. He has participated on technical advisory teams on at least three dam removal projects, organized several workshops and national conferences, and provided vegetation expertise in an evaluation of stream restoration projects throughout the region. He currently serves as cochair of the Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision Task Force and cochair of the Chicago Wilderness Natural Resources Management Team. Prior to joining the USFWS, he worked for a private consulting firm for three years. His career began as a research assistant at the Morton Arboretum. He holds a BS and MS in Biological Sciences from Northern Illinois University.
Jesse A. Elam is a regional planner at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, where he specializes in landscape-level environmental planning and water resources management (particularly non-point-source control and water supply planning). He was closely involved in the recently developed comprehensive plan for the Chicago region, GO TO 2040. Jesse teaches a graduate-level environmental planning class as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He holds a master's degree in urban planning and bachelor degrees in biology and philosophy.
Dennis Dreher is a senior consultant with Geosyntec. He specializes in green infrastructure and watershed planning and in working with clients and staff engineers and ecologists to identify and incorporate conservation design practices into new residential, commercial, and institutional development projects. He was formerly the director of Natural Resources for the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, where he managed a variety of water and natural resource projects for over 25 years. He was the principal author of the Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision and serves on the regional Green Infrastructure Vision Task Force. His areas of expertise include conservation design, sustainable development, storm-water and floodplain management, stream and wetland protection, water-quality planning, watershed management, and biodiversity protection. Dennis has authored or assisted in the development of numerous water and natural resources publications, including model ordinances, guidebooks, and watershed plans. He holds a BS and MS in Environmental Engineering from Purdue University and the University of Illinois, respectively. Dennis serves as the vice-chair of the Corporate Council of the Chicago Wilderness consortium.