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

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

Chapter 18
Measuring the Economic Impacts of
Greening: The Center for Neighborhood
Technology Green Values Calculator

JULIA KENNEDY, PETER HAAS, AND BILL EYRING

The natural resources that keep cities alive—clean air, water, land, and energy sources—are finite. The perception that these materials are free and limitless, however, has undermined the actual value of healthy natural resources.

In recent years this perception has begun to change. The high prices of petroleum and natural gas are invigorating the market for alternative energy technologies and products. The recently established CO2 trade community has brought economic value to reducing emissions. A similar identification of the value of clean water sources and reliable water infrastructure is needed to promote stronger water resource management practices. According to the World Bank, water should be thought of “as a commodity, and full cost should be recovered for its supply, which would then, one hopes, amount to some kind of financial accountability in terms of supply costs, and presumably lead to improved efficiency” (Mau and Leonard 2004). If the costs and benefits of water infrastructure are known and are accurately quantified and compared, then users and decision-makers will be better able to make profitable decisions.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based nonprofit corporation that promotes the development of environmentally and economically equitable and sustainable communities, is supporting “green” or alternative stormwater management methods that can capitalize on the hidden assets of the urban environment by creating working landscapes in spaces that would be otherwise bare or would be green, but designed for aesthetic value alone. To this end, CNT has developed a quantitative tool, the Green Values Calculator, to compare the hydrologic and financial costs and benefits of green infrastructure

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