BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Giving green spaces room to grow takes green to pull off. Tuesday, grant money was awarded to 15 projects, nearly all in urban areas—including Baltimore.

Alex DeMetrick reports the projects will turn hardscape into landscape.

Sarah’s Hope just opened to homeless women and children and surrounding the building is the next phase of the renovation.

“Ninety-four percent of the site is covered with asphalt,” said John Schiavone, president of St. Vincent de Paul.

A drawing shows that gray expanse as it is now and the change that’s coming.

“Create green space, recreation space,” Schiavone said. “Not only for the families of Sarah’s Hope but also for the nearby community, as well.”

Whether it’s turning landfills into buffer zones near the bay or part of Pratt Street into a scenic garden, for five years, the EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust have been awarding grants to make the changes. Fifteen recipients share this years $727,000. Six are Baltimore projects like the Baltimore Tree Trust.

“Removing impervious surface at Elwood Park—that’s east Baltimore—and planting 165 street trees,” said Dan Millender, Baltimore Tree Trust.

The one common element that ties all these projects together is rain. When it hits impervious surfaces like asphalt, it runs off carrying pollutants with it into waterways and the bay. Open ground absorbs rain.

“By keeping rainwater from coming into contact with pollution in the first place, green infrastructure improves the health of our water while reducing flooding,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin.

And in summer, hard surfaces also create heat islands. Green spaces lower temperatures.

During the past five years, a total of $11 million in grant money has been awarded to mostly small community efforts to expand green space.

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