Green in the Bank – Releasing a New Report on Green Infrastructure Today

Stormwater. Urban runoff. The puddles and streams in the gutter that flow into storm drains and neighborhood creeks every time it rains.  For many of us, it’s a problem that escapes our attention, but it’s a significant source of water pollution that makes beaches, lakes and rivers unsafe to swim or fish in, contributes to sewer overflows and neighborhood flooding, and plagues local environments. 

These impacts have real costs: dollars and cents lost to management plans that don’t really address the problem, recreational businesses that suffer when waters are untouchable, and the costs to repair flooded homes and streets.  Reducing runoff through green infrastructure can reduce these costs, and provide other valuable benefits.

Today, along with partners at the Water Environment Federation, ECONorthwest, and the American Society of Landscape Architects, we’re releasing a white paper documenting these economic benefits.  This report, Banking on Green: A Look at How Green Infrastructure Can Save Municipalities Money and Provide Economic Benefits Community-wide, surveys the real “dollar” value of green infrastructure benefits across four significant categories and demonstrates that green infrastructure can save money by being more cost-effective, by increasing energy efficiency, by removing threats to public health, and by reducing the costs of localized flooding damages. 

Some key points to consider:

  • Green infrastructure can lower energy bills: The green roof on FedEx’s Main Sorting Facility at O’Hare Airport  covers nearly 175,000 square feet, captures close to two million gallons of stormwater annually, and will save the company an estimated $35,000 in energy costs per year.
  • Green infrastructure can reduce flood damages: at least 25% of all flood damage costs are due to localized flooding, largely fed by urban runoff.  San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and other communities are turning to green infrastructure to reduce flooding.
  • Green infrastructure promotes public health: By capturing rain where it falls, green infrastructure keeps harmful bacteria and pollutants out of popular swimming and fishing waters. For two beaches in California, illness associated with swimming in water contaminated by polluted runoff at those beaches cost the public over $3 million every year.

At American Rivers, we’ve been promoting the environmental benefits of green infrastructure for years, helping communities build projects locally, working with state and federal agencies to develop stronger safeguards that will protect communities and their waters.  With Banking on Green, we’re highlighting the economic benefits that green infrastructure can provide to local decision-makers, utility leaders, and residents. These practices help communities to go green, and save green at the same time.