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Course Name:

Living Green Infrastructure, Gaia College, Royal  Roads University

Course Hours: 42  

Delivery Format: Online or Blended

Applicable Programs:  

Diploma in Organic Land Care, Gaia College

Prerequisites: none

Co-requisites: none

Contribution to Program: Elective

Approval Date: July 2021


In this course addressed at planners, policy makers and developers, we introduce and discuss the complexity and  simplicity of integrated natural solutions – low impact development (LID) and living green infrastructure (GI). In “The  State of Canadian Cities and Communities, 2012” the Federation of Canadian Municipalities calls for the employment of  more sustainable technologies and practices, an investment in resilient infrastructure for long-term future benefits. Great strides are being made on many fronts, but so much more can be done with a better understanding of natural  ecosystem processes. No solution can be sustainable if it degrades nature’s ability to sustain itself and us. All too often,  problems are addressed in isolation along budget categories set by administrators. Truly sustainable solutions can only  arise from a holistic process, involving interdepartmental collaboration and problem solving. It is not realistic – nor  effective over the long term – to address urban forest pests, for instance, without giving consideration to lot sizes,  construction practices, water management, pesticide use policy, and ultimately soil quality.

This course is designed to provide the knowledge and tools to assist professionals and practitioners in attaining a  proficient level of competence in living green infrastructure, and for implementing these technologies and best  management practices throughout the planning, constructing and maintenance phase of land development. While  there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, we hope to provide a deeper understanding of nature’s contribution to the  success of human created infrastructure, and to help everyone make better and more integrated decisions for long term benefit.  

Earn generous continuing  education credits for landscape professionals to maintain industry certifications (CNLA, NALP, ISA, BCSLA, MGOI, NOFA).

Topics include: 

A deeper understanding of the living components of green infrastructure 

Ecological impacts of development 

Water catchment and use 

Stormwater management 

Waste management 

Urban forestry 

Wildlife / biodiversity 

Food security 

Environment and community health


Course Learning Requirements

Knowledge and Skills

When you have earned credit for this course you will have demonstrated an ability to:

1. Correctly use green infrastructure  terminology.

1.1. Describe low impact development (LID).

1.2. Describe green infrastructure (GI).

1.3. Describe living green infrastructure LGI).

2. Demonstrate the necessity for a  collaborative interdepartmental  decision making process with  respect to living green  


2.1. Explain how decisions based solely on economics fall short of meeting the  needs of living infrastructure.

2.2. Demonstrate how incorporating ecological needs at the design stage of a  project will lead to different decisions.

2.3. Explain how ignorance of environmental / ecosystem processes has resulted in  unnecessary costs.

3. Describe the environmental  conditions required by living  


3.1. Describe how plants interact with other organisms in their environment. 3.2. Explain the significance of soil as a living non-static system.

3.3. Relate soil health with plant health.

3.4. Demonstrate the economic and ecological value of organic matter production  and recycling within landscapes.

4. Describe the impacts of land  development activities on living  ecosystems, and how major damage  can be prevented.

4.1. Explain the dangers of soil compaction.

4.2. Explain the dangers of soil erosion.

4.3. Prevent major damage to soil.

4.4. Prevent major damage to plants.

5. Maintain the value of the urban  forest through appropriate design  and management decisions.

5.1 Describe the difference between an urban forest and a collection of trees. 5.2. Meet the environmental needs of urban trees.

5.3. Correctly plant trees and explain why that is important.

5.4. Correctly prune trees and explain why that is important.

5.5 Explain the concept of a living asset and how it might change the way we value  living green infrastructure.

6. Protect and enhance wildlife  habitat and biodiversity in an urban  setting.

6.1. Identify your local native ecosystem.

6.2. Select locally native plants.

6.3. Describe the value of locally native plants in attracting and supporting local  wildlife.

6.4 Describe how cities can uniquely contribute to regional biodiversity.

7. Attract and store sufficient water  in the landscape to allow it to  flourish throughout the seasons,  while simultaneously reducing  stormwater damage.

7.1 Evaluate the effect of grade changes on water flow.

7.2 Evaluate the effect of soil management practices on the soil’s ability to capture  and retain water.

7.3 Integrate natural living water management systems with engineered built  components for optimal water availability and use.

7.4 Document the need for supplemental irrigation to maintain the value of living  assets, and their ability to provide the ecosystem services we desire.

8. Discuss options for reducing  waste in the landscape and evaluate  the benefits and shortcomings of 4  waste reduction products.

8.1 Appreciate the need to reuse greywater within the built environment. 8.2 Appreciate the need to divert waste from landfills.

8.3 Reduce waste in landscapes by recycling organic matter in place. 8.4 Appreciate the need to develop environmentally friendly products from waste.

9. Identify potential obstacles to  successful urban agriculture in the community.

9.1 Understand the impacts of zoning regulations on urban agriculture. 9.2 Appreciate the need for a community agricultural land reserve. 9.3 Develop solutions to land security for urban farmers.

9.4 Support the use of organic practices for food production.

10. Describe the relationship  between environmental and  

community health.

10.1 Advise communities on healthy ways to maintain their living green  infrastructure.

Learning Resources  

There are no required texts that need to be purchased. All learning resources are provided online through the course  materials or on the internet.

Teaching/Learning Methods - During this course you are likely to experience:  

assigned readings

online video presentations

discussion questions


peer feedback

individual projects


summarizing course activities

Learning Activities and Assessment - Samples of learning activities include:  

practical assignment work

written assignments

discussion forums

Evaluation/Earning Credit  

Evaluation is on a pass / fail basis, and no transcripts of grades are issued. A passing grade in this course requires a  minimum of 75% for each of the written assignments and projects, and a minimum of 75% for the discussion  participation. A certificate of completion will be awarded if the minimum passing grade or higher, has been achieved.  Below passing grade constitutes a failing grade (F).