WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report looks at the most cost-effective options for managing polluted runoff and protecting clean water, and finds that green infrastructure solutions save taxpayer money and provide community benefits by managing stormwater where it falls. Released by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and ECONorthwest, “Banking on Green: How Green Infrastructure Saves Municipalities Money and Provides Economic Benefits Community-wide” is a response to the need to further quantify the economic benefits of green infrastructure.
“For many decades, landscape architects have been helping communities large and small manage their stormwater with innovative green infrastructure solutions, such as green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, and pervious pavements,” said Nancy Somerville, executive vice president at ASLA. “The case studies and the cost-analysis in this white paper clearly demonstrate that green infrastructure techniques are proven to be cost-effective at managing stormwater, preventing flooding, improving water quality, and promoting public health. Landscape architects will continue to implement these projects in more and more neighborhoods across the country.”
The report’s top findings:
• Not only does green infrastructure cost less, but these practices can further reduce costs of treating large amounts of polluted runoff.
• Green infrastructure can help municipalities reduce energy expenses.
• Green infrastructure can reduce flooding and related flood damage.
• Green infrastructure improves public health by reducing bacteria and pollution in rivers and streams, which prevents gastrointestinal illnesses in swimmers and boaters.
Many American cities are already enjoying the benefits of green infrastructure, as studied in the report. For example, New York City’s plan to reduce combined-sewage overflows will save an estimated $1.5 billion over 20 years by incorporating green infrastructure, rather than relying solely on traditional “gray infrastructure,” such as installing massive pipes. In Louisiana, a high school in Baton Rouge spent $110,000 on bioswales and a rain garden to reduce flooding, rather than the $500,000 it would have cost to re-pipe the site.
Landscape architects play a vital role in designing, implementing, and managing these solutions at the municipal, business, and residential levels. By capturing rain where it falls, green infrastructure controls runoff that mixes with oil, pesticides, and other pollutants as it runs over streets, parking lots, and yards into local streams.
American Rivers also launched “Get More Green”, an online calculator tool that lets people determine how much money and water they can save by greening a particular rooftop. Visit www.americanrivers.org/getmoregreen.
Visit www.asla.org/stormwater to download the report and to view stormwater case studies.