National Green Infrastructure Facility

National Green Infrastructure Facility

The National Green Infrastructure Facility (NGIF) at Newcastle University is a ‘living laboratory’, underpinning research into Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs), Green Infrastructure approaches, and making urban centres more resilient and sustainable for future generations.

Among other benefits, Green Infrastructure relieves pressure on ‘grey’ infrastructure, including pipes, storm drainage and sewers, to enhance drainage of water in the city and reduce or prevent flooding. A full-scale suite of experiments and demonstrators have been established to provide a unique opportunity to gather evidence needed by decision makers to implement GI and SuDs to fulfil in the increasing need to attenuate, infiltrate, treat and control flow in the built environment.

NGIF is situated within the multi-award winning Urban Sciences Building on the 10Ha Newcastle Helix site, an exemplar of sustainable urban development in the heart of Newcastle. The building also hosts infrastructure research facilities around urban transport, energy and ICT, as well as the Newcastle Urban Observatory. The building is equipped with more than 4,000 sensors to allow researchers to understand how it performs and how it interfaces with the energy, water, internet and other networks to which it is connected.

Researchers working at the NGIF aim to generate insights into SuDS, developing novel approaches and technologies for improved surface water management, geo-energy for building heating/cooling, urban water treatment and increase our understanding of the interaction between the climate and the urban landscape. Evidence from the design and building of the experiments also contributes to knowledge gaps on upfront investment for interventions and how they need to be maintained over time as well as the cost of doing so.

The facility has been up and running since September 2017.


Who can use the facility Functions/facilities available

Industry and Academic researchers

Equipment available

Public Sector Equipment available
Fellowships, KTPs, PhDF Studentships and MSc Equipment and workspace

Facility Highlights

  • £10m investment into full-scale space for research in soil-vegetation-atmosphere interaction in the urban environment
  • Can hold 600m3 of water and is capable of handling 50mm of rainfall in one hour
  • Large-scale, heavily instrumented lysimeters that allow unique trials of experimental SuDS specifications
  • A 130m ‘extreme event’ swale enabling research and demonstration of leaky barriers for urban water attenuation
  • A 100m ensemble of variably planted bioretention cells to investigate the influence of planting regime and management on hydrological performance
  • Openly accessible monitoring data via an API hosted by the Urban Observatory
  • 50,000L rainwater harvesting tank to provide water for rainfall simulation

Find out more

Watch the National Green Infrastructure Facility presentation or download the slides as a PDF.