Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century

By Eugenie L. Birch; Susan M. Wachter | Go to book overview

Chapter 17
Green Investment Strategies: How They
Matter for Urban Neighborhoods

SUSAN M. WACHTER, KEVIN C. GILLEN, AND CAROLYN R. BROWN

Urban greening is an important component of the broader category of “place-based investments.” The mobility of global capital has transformed the rules for local economic growth, increasing the role of place based investments and local quality of life. These have joined traditional business location factors—such as availability of raw materials or port access—as important determinants of urban economic growth. In cities and their neighborhoods place-based investments are impacting the quality of life and long run sustainability of communities.

Because of the new role of quality of place, such investments are now critical public policy tools with the potential to turn around the decline of cities and their neighborhoods. Although the importance of placebased investments1 is recognized, there is little empirical evidence directly quantifying their impact. Researchers have only begun to measure how specific place-based investments, such as new community gardens or newly landscaped commercial corridors, affect neighborhoods.

The purpose of this study is to describe a methodology for quantifying the economic benefits of green investment and to use the methodology to measure gains from recently implemented green investment initiatives in the City of Philadelphia. The methodology, which deploys precise, time-based spatial data to identify when and where investment occurs, permits the identification and measurement of the neighborhood-level effects of public investment.

The measurement of these gains can justify public spending. Placebased investments depend on public spending decisions rather than private action, due to the “collective action” problem. Individuals tend to underinvest in goods that provide benefits to others (positive externalities) since these gains to others are not accounted for in their invest

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