Green Infrastructure Issue Areas: Economic and Community Development

Economic and Community Development:

The aesthetic benefits provided by green infrastructure can enhance the livability of a community. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), well planned green space has been shown to increase property values benefiting both developers and homeowners and decrease the costs of public infrastructure and public services, including the costs for stormwater management and water treatment systems. In Philadelphia, a green retrofit program that converted unsightly abandoned lots into “clean & green” landscapes resulted in economic impacts that exceeded expectations. Vacant land improvements led to an increase in surrounding housing values by as much as 30 percent. This translated to a $4 million gain in property values through tree plantings and a $12 million gain through lot improvements, according to the City’s assessments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Tree Guides provide estimates of the property value benefits trees provide in an urban setting. In addition, the City of Philadelphia calculated that wetland restoration efforts can lead to an approximately $500 per acre increase in economic value.

In addition to bolstering property values, studies have shown that increased vegetation and trees within a community can lead to an increase in recreational opportunities and thus improved livability and quality of life. The same vegetation and trees also reduces noise pollution from planes, trains and roadways. A study done by the University of Illinois Landscape and Human Health Laboratory found that, exposure to green surroundings reduces mental fatigue and the feelings of irritability that come with it. Even small amounts of greenery helped inner city residents have safer, less violent domestic environments.

Lastly, North American Envirothon, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing natural resource educational material, linked the presence of green space to reduced levels of inner-city crime and violence, a stronger sense of community, improved academic performance, and even reductions in symptoms associated with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.

For more information about Federal Agencies that utilize green infrastructure techniques to improve economic and community development, visit the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s green infrastructure toolkit webpages.

The organizations and reports referenced above and how green infrastructure relates to economic and community development can be found in the following resources:

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