26 Multi-Benefit Resources


Identifying linkages between urban green infrastructure and ecosystem services using an expert opinion methodology

Author: Elliott et al., Columbia University (2019)
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Identifying linkages between urban green infrastructure and ecosystem services using an expert opinion methodology compares benefits in urban distributed stormwater infrastructure. This is commonly known as green infrastructure (GI), provides a wide variety of benefits. This study offers both a methodology for evaluating the multiple benefits of GI as well as a decision-support tool developed through interviews with 46 academic experts that helps to rank different GI strategies based on their known ability to deliver a variety of co-benefits.

Thermal performance of extensive green roofs in cold climates

Author: Liu & Baskaran, National Research Council Canada (2005)
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In this study, the performance of two extensive green roofs located in the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada was monitored. The green roofs varied in system components, types and depths of growing medium, vegetation coverage and types of roofing systems. The green roofs were instrumented with sensor networks to provide thermal performance data.

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.

The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value

Author: Clements & St. Juliana, NRDC (2013)
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This report explores the range of economic benefits that accrue to commercial property owners (including owners of multifamily residential buildings) when they install green infrastructure on their property to improve stormwater management.

Life cycle based analysis of demands and emissions for residential water-using appliances

Author: Lee & Tansel, (2012)
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Life cycle based analysis of demands and emissions for residential water-using appliances focuses on the indirect consumption and environmental impacts from end-use water demand of household appliances. It quantifies the energy and greenhouse gas emissions from three residential water-using appliances using life-cycle analysis.

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.

The estimated impact of California’s urban water conservation mandate on electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

Author: Spang, Holguin, & Loge, (2018)
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In The estimated impact of California’s urban water conservation mandate on electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, Spang et al. use the reported water conservation data to assess how the water utilities have responded to the 2015 California water reduction mandate and to estimate the electricity savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions associated with reduced operation of urban water infrastructure systems.

Embedded Energy in Water Studies 1, 2 and 3

Author: California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) (2010)
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CPUCs Embedded Energy in Water Studies provide a California statewide assessment of energy use by the water sector and energy use by water customers. There are three separate reports, each including supporting appendices and materials, that document methodology, data collection, case studies, and findings of the investigation.

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

Author: Sokolow et al., (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.

An Analysis of the Energy Intensity of Water in California: Providing a Basis for Quantification of Energy Savings from Water System Improvements

Author: Wilkinson et al., (2006)
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An Analysis of the Energy Intensity of Water in California: Providing a Basis for Quantification of Energy Savings from Water System Improvements analyzes water-related energy use in California. The report examines energy inputs to water systems for: 1) primary water extraction, conveyance, and storage, 2) treatment and distribution within service areas, 3) on-site water pumping, treatment, and thermal inputs, and 4) wastewater collection, treatment, and discharge. The report concludes that “with better information regarding the energy implications of water use, public policy and combined investment and management strategies between energy, water, and wastewater agencies and utilities can be improved.” The benefits cited for these energy savings include avoided capital and operating costs, reduced burden on rate-payers, improved distribution of capital, and environmental benefits.

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.

Water Reuse Project in Virginia Providing Multiple Benefits

Author: U.S. EPA (2015)
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Water Reuse Project in Virginia Providing Multiple Benefits provides an example of an effective water reuse project implemented in the Chesapeake Bay. Historically, treated wastewater in the region was discharged into Chesapeake Bay, the water reuse project redirected this water for beneficial uses such as cooling a waste-to-energy plant and irrigating a ball field and a golf course. The benefits produced by this innovative water reuse project include potable water conservation, reductions in phosphorus and nitrogen pollution, and discounts on water bills.

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.

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: Russell et al., (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.

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’.

Greenhouse Gas and Energy Co-Benefits of Water Conservation

Author: Maas, Polis Project (2009)
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Greenhouse Gas and Energy Co-Benefits of Water Conservation examines the multiple benefits that are produced from the “water-energy nexus”. The benefits include indirect energy savings from municipal water and wastewater provision, indirect and direct energy use, and embedded energy for chemical manufacturing. The report includes example case studies conducted on various scales (program, municipal, provincial, and community levels), as well as provides methodologies for the quantification of the cited energy benefits.

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 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.

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.

Water-use efficiency and productivity: rethinking the basin approach

Author: Gleick, Smith, & Cooley, (2011)
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Water-use efficiency and productivity: rethinking the basin approach is a response to a paper in Water International. The paper highlights major components of inefficient water use that were ignored, examines water productivity rather than just water efficiency, and discusses co-benefits. The co-benefits of water-use efficiency examined are improved water quality, increased production, improved water supply reliability, decreased energy demands, and reduced or delayed infrastructure investments.

Implications of Future Water Supply Sources for Energy Demands

Author: Cooley & Wilkinson, Pacific Institute, WateReuse Research Foundation (2012)
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Implications of Future Water Supply Sources for Energy Demands describes the Water-Energy Simulator (WESim), an easy-to-use analytical tool for evaluating the energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) implications of water management decisions. In this report, energy is considered for (1) source water extraction, (2) water conveyance, (3) water treatment, (4) water distribution, (5) wastewater collection, and (6) wastewater treatment. WESim can include commercial and residential end uses of water and energy requirements for end uses. The report includes case studies utilizing WESim by the Santa Clara Valley Water District and Denver Water.

The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation

Author: Foster, Lowe, & Winkelman, Center for Clean Air Policy (2011)
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The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation provides a methodology for calculating the costs and benefits of green infrastructure, with particular focus on urban climate adaptation. Benefits of green infrastructure include land value, quality of life, public health, hazard mitigation, and regulatory compliance. In the report, economic analyses are provided for “Eco-Roofs,” Green Alleys and Streets, and Urban Forestry with several case study examples provided.

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.

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

Author: Carter & Keeler, (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.

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

Author: Bonnet et al., 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.