Sustainability performance of bioretention systems with various designs

J Environ Manage. 2023 Aug 15:340:117949. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.117949. Epub 2023 Apr 19.


Bioretention systems for urban drainage are one type of blue-green infrastructure that have gained more attention in recent decades. There are numerous design options for these systems, including various construction components, filter material mixtures, and plants. However, the research focus on the impacts of these many design options has mainly been technical, i.e., how different bioretention designs affect runoff pollution treatment and hydraulic control. Knowledge of the effects of various design elements on other sustainability criteria, such as economic, social, and environmental aspects, needs to be developed. This research aimed to evaluate and compare various design elements and bioretention types to gain a better understanding of the relative sustainability of various bioretention systems. This was accomplished by identifying relevant criteria and sub-criteria, covering social, economic, and technical-environmental indicators, in a multicriteria analysis. To evaluate the sustainability performance of various bioretention designs, 12 sub-criteria were allotted -100 to 100 points in a scoring process. The main finding was that while design features had a major impact on bioretention performance, no single design configuration excelled in all criteria. High scores in the social criteria were correlated with the use of trees and smaller volumes of pumice in the filter material mixture. In the economic criteria, extensive use of concrete and a complex mixture of filter material increased the costs. The system with a water-saturated zone and a variety of plant species outperformed the other systems in the technical-environmental criteria. The results can be utilized as a reference to assess design configurations that best satisfy specific needs for each unique bioretention implementation.

Keywords: LID; Nature-based solutions; Raingarden; SUDS; Stormwater biofilter; Sustainability analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Pollution
  • Nitrogen* / analysis
  • Plants
  • Rain*
  • Trees


  • Nitrogen