20 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.

Nature-Based Solutions Evidence Tool

Author: University of Oxford (2019)
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The Nature-Based Solutions Evidence Tool is primarily an online catalog of peer-reviewed research that provides evidence of the impacts of nature-based solutions (NbS) on a wide variety of benefit categories. The tool allows the user to filter results in a variety of ways, including by intervention type, habitat type, climate change impact, effect of Nbs on ecosystem service, geography, and more. Results are displayed in a variety of formats, helping the user to understand the landscape of quantitative and economic research related to a variety of NbSs.

NRCS Practice Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Carbon Sequestration

Author: Natural Resource Conservation Service (2012)
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The NRCS Practice Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Carbon Sequestration ranks effectiveness of greenhouse gas reduction techniques for farmers. This list provides NRCS practice codes and brief summaries of techniques.

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.

Methods to Assess Co-Benefits of California Climate Investments: Water Supply and Availability

Author: Einstein & Litke, Center for Resource Efficient Communities, UC-Berkeley (2017)
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Methods to Assess Co-benefits of California Climate Investments: Water Supply and Availability is a literature review of the different methodologies and approaches to quantifying the water supply and availability benefits from California Climate Investment projects. California Climate Investments are a broad group of projects being pursued across the state to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as wetland restoration and urban tree planting. While the literature review is targeted at California projects, some of the information provided could be applicable more broadly in the U.S.

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.

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.

Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future

Author: Cooley, Christian-Smith, & Gleick, Pacific Institute (2009)
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Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future examines the potential for agricultural efficiency in California. The report qualitatively and quantitatively explores the potential for water conservation and efficiency under the following management strategies: 1) efficient irrigation technology, 2) improved irrigation scheduling, and 3) regulated deficit irrigation. All three options show significant water savings as well as provide various co-benefits including, reduced water and energy costs, improved crop quality and yield,improved soil health, reduced vulnerability to drought, increased revenues, improved water quality, improved quantity and timing of instream flows, and fish and wildlife benefits.

Developing Scenarios to Assess Ecosystem Service Tradeoffs: Guidance and Case Studies for InVEST Users

Author: McKenzie et al., The Natural Capital Project (2012)
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Developing Scenarios to Assess Ecosystem Service Tradeoffs: Guidance and Case Studies for InVEST Users provides an evaluation of six case studies from across the globe that utilized inVEST to inform policy decisions. InVEST is a software tool for assessing how the location, quantity, and value of ecosystem services change under different scenarios. The tool was developed by the Natural Capital Project, a coalition that works to develop practical ecosystem services concepts and tools, apply these tools around the world to demonstrate the impact of ecosystem service approaches in decisions, and engage thought leaders to advance change in policy and practice. The report includes a discussion on the methodologies used as well as the strengths and challenges that arose with each application of InVEST.

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.

Evaluating Ecological Restoration Success: A Review of the Literature

Author: Wortley, Hero, & Howes, (2013)
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Evaluating Ecological Restoration Success: A Review of the Literature synthesizes past trends in restoration project evaluations and identified major knowledge gaps. The review analyzes approximately 300 ecological restoration project evaluations that include measurements for impacts on the economy, society, and environment. The sources are organized by publication details, restoration project characteristics, and evaluation/monitoring methodology.

Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California

Author: NRDC, Pacific Institute (2014)
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Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California outlines the benefits of improving agricultural efficiency in California. The benefits cited include reduced consumptive use, improved water quality and instream flow, energy savings, increased yields, improved crop quality, reduced fertilizer, water, and energy costs, improved reliability of existing supplies, management flexibility, improved downstream water quality, and enhanced recreation.

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’.

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.

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

Author: Gunasekara, 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.

Impacts of forest restoration on water yield: A systematic review

Author: Filoso et al., (2017)
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Impacts of forest restoration on water yield: A systematic review provides an academic review of 666 journals and studies conducted on the impact of forest restoration on water yields. From the works reviewed, forest restoration generally led to decreases in water yields, baseflow, and groundwater temporarily. The report suggests that green water may increase from reforestation, but there is little evidence to suggest that blue water will increase from reforestation.

Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis for Water Recycling Projects

Author: De Souza et al., University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences (2011)
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Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis for Water Recycling Projects provides an in-depth methodology for economic analysis of water recycling projects, including all benefits and costs “to whomsoever they accrue” at the completion of the project. The methodology includes benefits that directly affect the proposing agency, individuals, households, or businesses, such as water supply, water supply reliability, and local control, as well as the indirect benefits, such as environmental changes (i.e., streamflow, reducing groundwater pumping), recreation, nutrient loading, and effect on soil and groundwater.

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.

Living Streets Economic Feasibility Project: Final Report

Author: Abdullah & Blyth, 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.”

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

Author: Abell et al., 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.