Our cities are confronted with significant challenges as global temperatures continue to rise. The transition from the serene Texas hill country to bustling urban centers like Dallas, Houston, or Austin reveals a stark contrast in temperature. Unfortunately, natural phenomena like El Niño exacerbate this situation. Climate change is a global issue that necessitates a closer examination of our own neighborhoods and cities.

Urban areas face the additional threat of the urban heat island effect, which further elevates temperatures. This phenomenon occurs when cities experience significantly higher temperatures compared to their surrounding rural areas. The abundance of heat-absorbing materials such as concrete and asphalt, coupled with the lack of vegetation and green spaces, contributes to this temperature disparity.

While the term “urban heat island effect” has become commonplace, we often overlook its causes. The reduction of urban sponges and tree canopies has resulted in less evapotranspiration, which helps cool temperatures. Glass facades, although aesthetically pleasing, contribute to the problem by reflecting heat and increasing the urban microclimate’s temperature. We invest heavily in mechanical cooling systems to combat this heat but fail to consider the ecological consequences. However, the use of green infrastructure presents an opportunity to capture and mitigate these heat emissions, compensating for the loss of natural sponges.

While implementing green practices may require a higher upfront investment, their long-term benefits far outweigh the costs. By making conscientious choices and investing in our future, we pave the way for a more sustainable and beautiful world.

What does incorporating green infrastructure look like?

At RVi, we enthusiastically embrace the prospect of including green infrastructural elements and implementing green strategies during the development process. At the Esplanade master- planned communities in Florida, we have made a deliberate effort to design a butterfly garden and create a pollinator habitat. These gardens are not only visually stunning but also easier to maintain due to the use of native pollinator-friendly species. Regular weeding and trimming are all that is required to keep them thriving. Additionally, our designers gathered inspiration from local nature for the playscapes. By incorporating natural elements such as mounds and tree logs, we created an engaging and interactive play area that seamlessly blends into the surrounding landscapes. Rather than opting for a fully manufactured playscape, we prioritized the integration of nature play.

In the case of South Lamar Multifamily, a multi-family urban infill development in Austin, we have consciously designed the building courtyards to seamlessly integrate green infrastructure, further enhancing the sustainability and beauty of the space. We believe that by incorporating green elements into our projects, we can create harmonious environments that benefit both residents and the surrounding ecosystems.

As an active participant in Austin City’s initiative for developing a new code for implementing functional green spaces in urban infill projects, RVi has dedicated extensive efforts with the core team towards research and testing. We wholeheartedly acknowledge the significance of green infrastructure in fostering the creation of sustainable and vibrant cities, especially amidst climate change and rapid urbanization.