International Living Future Institute

City Habitats: City-Scale Green Infrastructure At Work [On Demand]


As the iconic Pacific Northwest rain hits the ground and washes over rooftops, parking lots, roadways and other impervious surfaces in urban areas, it picks up pollutants and rushes to creeks, lakes and other water bodies. Polluted stormwater runoff from urban areas is the largest source of pollution to Washington State’s Puget Sound.

This course highlights stories from City Habitats, a regional collaborative formed to use nature to help address the challenges of water and air quality while supporting thriving communities. Representatives from Stewardship Partners, The Nature Conservancy and Washington Environmental Council discuss their efforts to use the inherent filtering qualities of natural infrastructure to keep the Puget Sound healthy for generations to come. Specific topics include cross-sector coalition building, advancing policy and science, and case studies on both community-driven neighborhood projects and larger scale green infrastructure projects. While the course has a Puget Sound flavor, the strategies are broadly applicable.

Learning Objectives

In this course, you'll learn how to:

  • understand the problem of polluted runoff and how it contributes to Puget Sound’s pollution
  • explore how in solving water quality issues we can also address other challenges to the region
  • summarize the importance of intentionally building a cross-sector coalition to solve watershed-wide water quality issues by advancing science and policy together
  • explore natural infrastructure projects in Puget Sound and how they are being used to clean water and support healthy communities


Aaron Clark is an environmental scientist with experience conducting, communicating and applying scientific research for the support of healthy, functioning ecosystems. As the Director of Strategic Partnerships, he focuses on building an interdisciplinary network between communities, policy-makers, businesses, architects, engineers and planners. He received a B.A. in biology from Reed College and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Washington; he worked as an environmental consultant and landscape designer before joining Stewardship Partners. Aaron is driven by a belief in the positive impact that humans can and do have on the environment through restoration and stewardship. Aaron serves as the Steering Committee Chair for the Green Infrastructure Partnership (GrIP) and leads the annual Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit.

Chris Hilton is the Urban Partnerships Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Puget Sound program. She is responsible for directing the Conservancy’s new regional strategies to address polluted stormwater runoff and expand the use of green infrastructure in the Puget Sound region by working with communities, nonprofit organizations, governments, utilities and the corporate sector. Chris’ 20-year career in conservation has focused on partnership building, conservation strategy and planning, land acquisition and agency relations. As a conservationist who loves living in the city, she is thrilled to be advancing conservation in cities and towns.

Danielle Shaw is a policy analyst and clean water advocate for the People for Puget Sound Program within Washington Environmental Council, a statewide advocacy organization with a 50-year history of driving positive change to solve Washington’s most critical environmental challenges. Prior to joining WEC, she gained experience in international and domestic environmental policy clerking for NOAA’s Alaska Regional Counsel and the International Environmental Law Project. Danielle has a B.A. from Western Washington University and a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School.