Vacant to Vibrant: Vacant Land as Green Infrastructure

2012 - 2020
Team Leader
Sandra Albro
Cleveland Botanical Garden
Project Website

Vacant to Vibrant from Great Lakes Protection Fund on Vimeo.


The Vacant to Vibrant team has distinguished itself by being the first to look at using vacant parcels of land not only to manage stormwater but to serve as sites for neighborhood stabilization in underserved communities. The team established a neighborhood-based network of small parcel green infrastructure projects in three Great Lakes cities to determine the potential for urban neighborhoods with an abundance of vacant land to serve as a green infrastructure network.

The team worked with community partners in the cities of Buffalo, NY; Cleveland, OH; and Gary, IN—cities with high commercial and residential land vacancy, aging sewer/stormwater infrastructure, and a demonstrated interest and capacity for an interdisciplinary approach to green infrastructure. They developed a unique top-down site selection process that put an emphasis on watershed health and neighborhood stabilization and developed a simple green infrastructure portfolio that could be replicated across cities in the Great Lakes region. By developing a unique site selection process and listening closely to the needs of area residents, the team strategically placed green infrastructure to attain not only environmental, but also social and economic benefits.

This project is the result of a successful convening and planning phase which brought together experts from fourteen cities around the Great Lakes to assess the regional interest of reusing vacant urban lands as green infrastructure.

The project resulted in the publication of a book Vacant to Vibrant, Creating Successful Green Infrastructure Networks by Sandra Albro. The book can be found at

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  • Vacant to Vibrant Unique Site Selection Process
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