Carbon sequestration potential for mitigating the carbon footprint of green stormwater infrastructure

Emad Kavehei, G. A. Jenkins, M. F. Adame, C. Lemckert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Green stormwater infrastructure is a common feature of urban cities which is mostly designed for hydrological and water quality purposes. The last decade has seen a rise in research on the environmental impact assessment of vegetated water sensitive urban design (WSUD) technologies. However, the added ecosystem benefits of these systems, such as carbon sequestration, have received less attention. In this study, the life cycle net carbon footprint of various vegetated WSUD technologies namely green roofs, rain gardens, bioretention basins, vegetated swales and stormwater ponds, have been reviewed and analysed including their carbon sequestration potential. The carbon footprint of each vegetated WSUD technology was evaluated through the four phases of the life cycle assessment (LCA): material production, construction, operation and maintenance and end-of-life phases. The results of this study show that the initial embodied carbon associated with production, transportation and construction phases is the major contributor to the carbon footprint for most of the vegetated WSUD technologies. Rain gardens are shown to provide the highest carbon sequestration potential which offsets its carbon footprint. Carbon sequestration of bioretention basins, green roofs, vegetated swales and stormwater ponds can mitigate approximately 70%, 68%, 45% and 8% of their carbon footprint respectively. This study demonstrates the significant role of carbon sequestration in mitigating the carbon footprint from the assigned life time of the vegetated WSUD technologies. The results presented in this study will allow designers and policymakers to include the carbon implication in their WSUD strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1191
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


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