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Welcome to Blue-Green Building

What is Blue-Green Building?

Green building, low-impact development, sustainable infrastructure — these terms open up a tool chest of ways to make cities more environmentally friendly. They include saving energy, recycling, using sustainable materials, minimizing global warming.

This website, created by all-volunteer Friends of Five Creeks, showcases “blue-green” developments – low-impact “green infrastructure” aimed at sustaining water and watersheds, so that nature can flourish even in cities.

How cities affect water and watersheds

Cities cover much of the land with streets, sidewalks, and roofs. Rain no longer drips from leaves and soaks into soil. Instead, it rushes with flash-flood-like intensity to gutters, storm drains, and creeks. This runoff carries a toxic soup of heavy metals, petroleum products, pet wastes, pesticides, and litter washed from yards and streets.

The result is flooding, erosion, and pollution. Streams overtop their banks or cut deep, steep, unstable canyons. Plants, fish, and frogs are swept away. Storm flows and pollution endanger people, pets, and property. Studies show that these effects begin when as little as 10% of an area is developed. Many millions of dollars are spent trying to lessen or repair the damage.

What You Will See On This Site

The projects on these pages are designed to lessen these harmful effects of city-building. You’ll find elements that filter out pollutants, slow down storm flows, and let water soak into soil. As the photos show, these elements also make cities more beautiful.

These projects shown here are east of San Francisco Bay, in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California, USA. Click on them using the Google map here,. Or search by location, by type of building – office, schools, homes, parklands, even a cemetery — or by blue-green features — permeable surfaces, swales, detention ponds, gardens, planters, green roofs, cisterns.

Some of the projects were voluntary efforts. Most “blue-green” infrastructure, though, is appearing due to requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, cascading down through the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (a state agency), which in turn imposes requirements on local governments under a permit system. For more information….