41 Multi-Benefit Resources


Green Infrastructure Co-Benefits Valuation Tool

Author: Earth Economics, GI Exchange (2019)
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The Green Infrastructure Co-benefits Valuation Tool is intended to provide a framework, methods, and values to support rapid screening-level analysis of the costs and benefits associated with a range of GI investments. The tool itself is based in Microsoft Excel and comes with a users guide and fact sheet.

Water LA

Author: The River Project (2018)
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The 2018 Water LA report by the River Project explores the opportunities for and challenges of building a resilient region by making small, distributed changes to the urban landscape. The report offers a case study from LA where parcel-scale water management projects provide different social, environmental, and economic benefits.

Nature and Health

Author: (2014)
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This article presents the state of knowledge with regards to human health and well-being from contact with nature. The article includes a discussion of the term “nature,” a review of relevant research including linkages between nature and benefits, and the gaps, challenges, methodological approaches that could be used for future research.

The Blueprint for Increased Investment in Green Infrastructure

Author: Earth Economics (2018)
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The Blueprint for Increased Investment in Green Infrastructure is a comprehensive resource for water managers and other decision makers seeking to start or expand investment in green infrastructure. The Blueprint presents five major cultural and institutional shifts that are required at the municipal level for the grown in green infrastructure. Data, tools, tips, and other resources are also provided.

Top 22 Benefits of Trees

Author: TreePeople (2019)
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This website, Top 22 Benefits of Trees, provides an overview of the top benefits provided by trees, which include, but are not limited to, saving water, preventing water pollution, and many other benefits.

On Spatially Distributed Hydrologic Ecosystem Services: Bridging the Quantitative Information Gap Using Remote Sensing and Hydrological Models

Author: (2017)
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The white paper, On Spatially Distributed Hydrologic Ecosystem Services, provides an explanation of and use case examples for a hydrologic ecosystem services model. This is a useful resource for quantification of water-related ecosystem services.The model is spatially and temporally designed for basin-scale analyses.

Healthy Lands and Healthy Economies: The multiple benefits of Sonoma County working and natural lands

Author: Sonoma County Ag + Open Space (2018)
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Sonoma County Ag + Open Space presents the results of a thorough economic assessment of the county’s agricultural and natural lands, incorporating the multiple benefits of these landscapes.

Impacts of Urban Water Conservation Strategies on Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Health: Southern California as a Case Study

Author: (2016)
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Impacts of Urban Water Conservation Strategies on Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Health: Southern California as a Case Study expands on a 2014 health impact assessment of California’s urban water conservation strategies to evaluate the impacts of two possible conservation approaches: banning landscape irrigation and expanding alternative water sources (e.g. recycled water). Findings show that expanding alternative water sources can have a highly positive impact on public health.

Accounting for U.S. ecosystem services at national and subnational scales

Author: John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis (N/A)
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Accounting for U.S. ecosystem services at national and subnational scales is an ongoing project of the John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis to create a natural capital accounting tool within the United States. Natural capital accounting involves the national compilation of data, models, valuation frameworks in order to encourage the protection of natural capital. The project aims to provide quantified and monetized ecosystem services on a national and subnational scale.

The Economic Impact of Green City, Clean Waters: The First Five Years

Author: Sustainable Business Network (SBN), Green Stormwater Infrastructure Partners, Econsult Solutions (2016)
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The Economic Impact of Green City, Clean Waters: The First Five Years evaluates the economic impact of the Green City, Clean Waters (GCCW) plan in Philadelphia, PA. The Green City, Clean Waters was an initiative of the Philadelphia Water Department to implement more green infrastructure in the city of Philadelphia. The initiative resulted in a multitude of benefits, including boosts in the local economy, increased jobs, improved equity, revived habitats, and overall enhanced aesthetics.

Valuing the Environmental Benefits of Urban Water Conservation: Final Report

Author: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley, California Urban Watershed Council (2006)
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Valuing the Environmental Benefits of Urban Water Conservation Final Report presents a method for valuing the environmental benefits of water conservation and efficiency. Water savings of a particular water conservation strategy are represented by the reduction in water demand, as well as the resulting co-benefits, including enhanced fish habitats, increased recreational opportunities, and improved water quality as a result of wetland filtration. The report provides a methodology for monetizing these environmental benefits so as to provide utilities with a method for comparing the benefits and costs of various best management practices.

Green Infrastructure & Health Guide

Author: Oregon Health and Outdoors Initiative, Willamette Partnership, Oregon Public Health Institute (OPHI), The Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange (2018)
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Green Infrastructure & Health Guide provides the tools, resources, and evidence for the connections between green infrastructure (GI) and human health. The chapters include Health Challenges and GI Solutions, GI and Health: What is the connection?, Nature Experiences and Health: Current evidence, Shared Language, Identifying Community Health Needs, Make the Case: Business and more, Community Engagement: Why and how, GI Siting and Design: Considerations for health, Evaluating Health Benefits of GI, and Needs and Next Steps. The appendices include Detailed Community Engagement Guidelines, Sample Tree Planting Health Survey, Sample Logic Model Linking Tree Planting and Health, and Sample City Health and Outdoors Opportunities Assessments.

Water conservation benefits of urban heat mitigation

Author: (2017)
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Water conservation benefits of urban heat mitigation examines urban heat mitigation strategies, such as cool roofs, and the impacts on water conservation in California. The study shows that while cool roofs provide significant cooling benefits and life cycle cost savings, they also provide other water-related benefits including decreased outdoor water use by reducing evaporation and irrigation practices. The report argues that cool roofs provide a solution for multiple sectors within California.

Milwaukee Green Infrastructure Scenarios Tool

Author: Climate Interactive, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (N/A)
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The Milwaukee Green Infrastructure Scenarios Tool (GIST) helps decision makers to analyze various scenarios and determine the best stormwater management solutions in Milwaukee’s Kinnickinnic River Watershed. The tool recommends the green infrastructure project (i.e., green roofs, bioretention, stormwater trees, porous pavement, etc.) that best provides stormwater management, extreme weather resilience, job generation, aesthetics, and financial savings. The tool provides outputs of system performance measures (i.e., number of overflow events annually), capital and operational costs, and the co-benefits of the project, including improved water quality, energy savings, and increased jobs and property values.

Green Remediation: Incorporating Sustainable Environmental Practices into Remediation of Contaminated Sites

Author: U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (2008)
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Green Remediation: Incorporating Sustainable Environmental Practices into Remediation of Contaminated Sites contains fourteen case studies conducted throughout the United States that incorporated sustainable environmental practices into remediation of contaminated sites. The report names this strategy ‘green remediation’ and defines it as, “the practice of considering all environmental effects of remedy implementation and incorporating options to maximize net environmental benefit of cleanup actions”. The case studies provide examples of how green remediation strategies can increase the net benefit of cleanup, provide project cost savings, and expand the universe of long-term property use or reuse options without compromising cleanup goals.

Dams and Development A New Framework for Decision-Making

Author: World Commission on Dams (2000)
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Dams and Development A New Framework for Decision-Making provides a comprehensive, global evaluation of the impacts of dams on people, the environment, and the economy. The report illustrates that while dams mainly provide benefits such as increased water supply, flood control, and energy generation, they also provide many secondary and tertiary benefits such as food security, employment, skills development, rural electrification, and expansion of civil infrastructure including roads and schools. The report also assesses alternatives to dams for water resource and energy projects. From this evaluation, several main conclusions and recommendations were developed to give to the World Bank, governments, construction, and financing agencies around the world.

Green Infrastructure Opportunities and Barriers in the Greater Los Angeles Region

Author: U.S. EPA (2013)
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Green Infrastructure Opportunities and Barriers in the Greater Los Angeles Region analyzes the regulatory barriers to installing green infrastructure in Los Angeles. The types of green infrastructure projects discussed in the report include bioretention cells, bioretention strips/swales, infiltration basins/swales/trenches, planter boxes, constructed wetlands, rainwater capture, permeable pavement, and drywells. The report defines the regulatory landscape for green infrastructure in California, identifies potential for fulfilling multiple regulations and requirements through green infrastructure projects, and lastly, examines the regulatory barriers to green infrastructure implementation.

The Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure A Case Study of Lancaster, PA

Author: U.S. EPA (2014)
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The Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure: A Case Study of Lancaster, PA provides an economic valuation of green infrastructure in Lancaster, PA based on the Framework described in CNT’s “The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits, 2010”. The report provides data requirements and methodologies for evaluation of water-related benefits (avoided capital costs of storage needs, avoided operational costs from wastewater treatment), energy-related benefits (reduced energy use for indoor temperature control), air-quality benefits (smog reduction, including NO2, O3, SO2 and PM10), and climate change-related benefits (CO2 reduction from carbon sequestration, reductions in water and wastewater pumping and treatment, and building energy use). The report also includes a discussion on the additional qualitative benefits including reduced urban heat island effect, increased property value, reduced noise pollution, increased recreational opportunities, habitat improvement, public education, and community cohesion.

Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency’s Multiple Benefits

Author: (2015)
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Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency’s Multiple Benefits emphasizes the multiple benefits of improved energy efficiency for the residential, business, and utility sectors. The multiple benefits identified within this report include comfort, health, financial, and risk-abatement. The report argues that these multiple benefits can exceed utility bill savings, and therefore should be included into management decisions, policy decisions, and efficiency programs.

Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California’s Water Supply

Author: NRDC, Pacific Institute (2004)
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Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California’s Water Supply analyzes the connections between power and water resources in California. The report presents several key findings: 1) water conservation lowers energy use and energy bills, 2) water recycling is a highly energy efficient water source, 3) retiring agricultural land may increase energy use if the water is transferred to other agricultural or urban uses, 4) Retiring agricultural land can save energy if the water is dedicated to the environment, and 5) diverting water above dams costs an enormous amount of power and money. Based on these findings it is recommended that decision makers better integrate energy into water policy decision-making, as well as give water conservation higher priority.

Rainwater as a Resource: A Report on Three Sites Demonstrating Sustainable Stormwater Management

Author: TreePeople (2007)
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Rainwater as a Resource: A Report on Three Sites Demonstrating Sustainable Stormwater Management (2007) presents three case studies for stormwater management: (1) single-family, parcel sized greening in South Los Angeles, CA, (2) campus greening at Hillery T. Broadous Elementary School in Pacoima, CA, and (3) campus greening at Open Charter Magnet Elementary School in Westchester, CA. The report includes costs and quantified benefits for tree benefits (tree canopy, carbon storage, carbon sequestration, energy savings), stormwater benefits (runoff reduction, avoided storage), and air pollution benefits (ozone, SO2, NO2, PM10, and CO removal). The report also includes a discussion of additional non-quantified benefits including student health and safety, green waste reuse, and green recreation space.

Green Infrastructure Guide for Water Management

Author: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP-DHI Partnership, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute (2014)
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Green Infrastructure: Guide for Water Management examines case studies of green infrastructure projects throughout the United States. The report argues that a lack of awareness of the solutions and additional cost benefits that green infrastructure projects can provide is the major barrier to implementation of green infrastructure solutions. The case studies include green infrastructure projects such as green roofs, permeable pavement, levee setbacks, wetland conservation and construction, reforestation and afforestation, and flood bypasses and coastal protection. The case studies cite benefits from the ecosystem service categories (i.e., provisioning services, regulating services, cultural services, habitat or supporting services), providing a qualitative discussion of primary benefits and co-benefits for each case study.

Envision V3 User Manual

Author: Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (2017)
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The Envision V3 (Draft Credits for Public Review and Comment) user manual outlines additions to the Envision framework, a sustainability framework that aims to analyze infrastructure projects and promote collaboration on multi-benefit projects in order to improve system synergy. The framework defines co-benefits as services not directly related to the project’s primary function, and identifies five benefit categories: 1) quality of life, 2) leadership, 3) resource allocation, 4) natural world, and 5) climate and risk. Envision V3, launched in late 2017, modifies the final category, instead calling it ‘risk and resilience’.

Assessing Location and Scale of Urban Nonpotable Water Reuse Systems for Life-Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Author: University of California, Berkeley ReNUWIt (2016)
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Assessing Location and Scale of Urban Nonpotable Water Reuse Systems for Life-Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions examines nonpotable water reuse at different scales to compare centralized and decentralized systems for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The article presents a planning and support tool for determining the optimal scale and treatment technology for reuse in different locations and elevations.

Envision Framework

Author: Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (N/A)
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Envision is a framework that provides the guidance needed to initiate this systemic change in the planning, design and delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Envision is a decision-making guide, not a set of prescriptive measures. Envision provides industry-wide sustainability metrics for all types and sizes of infrastructure to help users assess and measure the extent to which their project contributes to conditions of sustainability across the full range of social, economic, and environmental indicators.

The Hidden Value of Landscapes: Implications for Drought Planning

Author: Colorado State University (2017)
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The Hidden Value of Landscapes: Implications for Drought Planning analyzes the impacts of landscaping on quality of life, environment, and land values in Colorado. The report illustrates that while landscaping can provide the primary goal of drought relief, it also provides a suite of co-benefits. These benefits include environmental benefits (i.e., air quality, carbon sequestration, cooling effects, stormwater management, and wildlife habitat), increased real estate value, and enhanced community and health.

Stormwater Capture Master Plan

Author: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) (2015)
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Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Stormwater Capture Master Plan develops a strategy for long-term stormwater capture potential, examination of projects and programs, estimation of the value of projects with ancillary benefits, and stormwater program and policy implementations in California. Stormwater programs include on-site infiltration, green streets, subregional infiltration, on-site direct use, subregional direct use, and impervious replacement. The multiple benefits cited from increased stormwater capture include groundwater recharge, water conservation, open space alternatives, and improved downstream water quality and peak flow.

Techno-economic assessment and environmental impacts of desalination technologies

Author: (2011)
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Techno-economic assessment and environmental impacts of desalination technologies provides a review of desalination technologies, including energy requirements, water production costs, technological growth trends, environmental impacts, and possible technological improvements. The report also provides desalination policies from major desalination users, including Saudi Arabia, United States, Spain, China, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates.

The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits

Author: Center for Neighborhood Technology, American Rivers (2010)
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The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits is an in-depth framework for evaluating the multiple benefits of green infrastructure projects, including green roofs, tree planting, bioretention and infiltration, permeable pavement, and water harvesting. The framework provides methodologies for valuation of water, energy, air quality, and climate change-related benefits, as well as a qualitative discussion on community livability and public education benefits.

The Economics of Low-Impact Development: A Literature Review

Author: ECONorthwest (2007)
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The Economics of Low-Impact Development: A Literature Review provides a review of economic valuations of low-impact development projects. The multiple benefits of low-impact development cited within the report include reduced flooding, improved water quality, increased groundwater recharge, reduced public expenditures on stormwater infrastructure, reduced energy use, improved air quality, and enhanced aesthetics and property values. The report provides guidance and literature discussion on methodologies for calculating the costs and benefits of low-impact development projects.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Economics in the Boise Urban Area

Author: (2015)
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Green Stormwater Infrastructure Economics in the Boise Urban Area (2015) examines the economics of green versus grey infrastructure in Boise, Idaho. Infrastructure projects analyzed include bioretention, trees with suspended pavement systems, permeable pavement, bioswales, conventional trees without suspended pavement systems, and conventional paved alleyways. Biophysical services and social benefits are compared to the alternative (i.e., status quo) option to determine the differences in services. The biophysical services identified include waste absorption/pollutant reduction, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, temperature reduction, and biodiversity/habitat provision. The social benefits identified include clean drinking water, water supply, clean air, aesthetics and recreation, pedestrian and vehicle safety, heat island effect, education and community engagement, and compliance credits.

Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel Bi-Annual Report (2011-2013)

Author: California Department of Food and Agriculture (2013)
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Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel – Bi-Annual Report (2011-2013) is a resource developed by the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel and organized by Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The advisory panel aims to review the impact of agriculture on the environment and encourage agricultural practices with environmental benefits by providing incentives and modifying environmental regulations. The environmental benefit categories established by the advisory panel include: wildlife habitats; nutrient cycling; food, fiber, and fuel production; recreation and cultural; soil structure, formation, and fertility; biodiversity conservation; water cycling; atmospheric gas/climate regulation; pest control; pollination services; and water quality.

Barriers and Gateways to Green Infrastructure

Author: Clean Water America Alliance (2011)
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Barriers and Gateways to Green Infrastructure identifies and explores the major barriers to implementation of green infrastructure for stormwater management. The barriers were identified through a survey of various stakeholder groups from across the United States, and included the following themes: technical and physical barriers, legal and regulatory barriers, financial barriers, and community and institutional barriers. The report also provides several recommendations to the U.S. EPA for overcoming these barriers, including creation of new stormwater regulations and permits, full accounting for economic and environmental benefits, embracing of new stormwater approaches, and increased federal funding for green infrastructure.

Beyond the Source: The environmental, economic and community benefits of source water protection

Author: The Nature Conservancy (2017)
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Beyond the Source is an in-depth, global study conducted by the Nature Conservancy on source water protection projects. In the report these projects are described as “nature-based solutions” that can improve water quality and quantity. Projects include targeted land protection, revegetation, riparian restoration, agricultural best management practices, ranching best management practices, fire risk management, wetland restoration and creation, and road management. The report provides a qualitative framework as well as quantitative guidance for calculating the multiple benefits.

Living Streets Economic Feasibility Project: Final Report

Author: Heal the Bay, Climate Resolve, GreenLA Coalition (2016)
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Living Streets Economic Feasibility Report presents an alternate, new paradigm to guide the future of street and sidewalk infrastructure design and creation for Los Angeles. The term they use for this new paradigm is “Living Streets”, and it incorporates green infrastructure and stormwater capture within street design to improve air quality, water quantity and quality, flooding, human health, and aesthetics within urban regions. The report presents the costs and benefits of Living Streets, and compares them to the costs and benefits of continuing with business as usual, as well as against what they call “Green Streets,” “Cool Streets,” and “Complete Streets.”

A framework for assessing urban greenery’s effects and valuing its ecosystem services

Author: (2018)
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A framework for assessing urban greenery’s effects and valuing its ecosystem services identifies biophysical structure components of urban green space, the associated function, an indicator, effectivity factor, and ecosystem services associated. The framework compares the perceived value of the ecosystem service to other potential services (i.e., public transport, housing, or culture, compared to biodiversity, stormwater flood risk, and perceived well being). The article includes a case study in which the framework was applied to urban areas in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Banking on Green: A Look at How Green Infrastructure Can Save Municipalities Money and Provide Economic Benefits Community-wide

Author: American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Landscape Architects, ECONorthwest (2012)
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Banking on Green provides a business case for green infrastructure practices in the United States. Benefits cited within the report include reduced stormwater runoff, reduced energy costs, reduced impacts of flooding, improvements in public health, and reduced infrastructure costs. Within the report, it is argued that green infrastructure can blend seamlessly with traditional grey infrastructure, and make communities more resilient in the face of extreme events and climate change. The report provides case studies of successful green infrastructure projects across the United States, and a qualitative discussion on the multiple benefits.

The Economic Benefits of Multipurpose Reservoirs in the United States-Federal Hydropower Fleet

Author: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (2015)
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The Economic Benefits of Multipurpose Reservoirs in the United States-Federal Hydropower Fleet estimates the economic benefits of multipurpose hydropower reservoirs with a focus on the Tennessee Valley Authority, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Bureau of Reclamation. The multipurposes are divided into six categories of federal uses: hydropower, flood control, navigation, recreation, water supply, and irrigation. The report provides the calculated percent of total benefits accrued within each category, with results showing that recreation possessed the largest overall benefit as defined by visitor days and daily spending.

Life-cycle cost-benefit analysis of extensive vegetated roof systems

Author: (2008)
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Life-cycle cost-benefit analysis of extensive vegetated roof systems assesses the benefits and costs of green roofs from a pilot study in Athens, Georgia, including private and social benefits. The public benefits identified were avoided best management practice costs, energy savings, and air quality, and the private benefits identified were stormwater utility fee credits, building energy savings, and air quality. The costs identified in the study included lifetime construction and maintenance. The study revealed that green roofs were 10-14% more expensive than conventional counterparts, and therefore, recommended that a broader range of positive social benefits be included in the analysis in order to outweigh the higher construction costs and encourage the construction of green roofs.

Central Valley Flood Protection Plan 2017 Update

Author: California Department of Water Resources (2017)
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The Central Valley Flood Protection Plan asserts that institutional frameworks hinder implementation of multi-benefit actions and outlines a framework to facilitate design and construction of multi-benefit projects. The report organizes Design Within Reach (DWR) Flood Management programs with the flood management policy issues they address, as well as discusses multi-benefit improvements for ecosystem vitality for specific projects. It includes a qualitative discussion of multi-benefit projects, defining them as projects designed to reduce flood risk and enhance fish and wildlife habitat, as well as create additional public benefits such as sustaining agricultural production, improving water quality and water supply reliability, increasing groundwater recharge, supporting commercial fisheries, and providing public recreation and educational opportunities, or any combination thereof.

Proposition 1 Stormwater Grant Program Guidelines

Author: California State Resources Water Quality Control Board (2015)
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Proposition 1 Stormwater Grant Program Guidelines, related to the Stormwater Grant Program (SWGP), establishes the process and criteria by which Proposition 1 funds are awarded in the state of California. The guidelines seek to encourage public agencies to develop multi-benefit stormwater management plans, as specified in the Stormwater Resource Planning Act (SB 985), that reframe stormwater projects, including dry-weather runoff as a water supply resource.