Accounting for the Sustainability and Costs of Stormwater BMPs - An Online Tool


  • Matthew Jones, Alysondria Campos - Hazen and Sawyer
  • John McLaughlin, Carolina Griggs - NYCDEP

Green infrastructure is generally recognized as an effective way to manage stormwater runoff while providing additional benefits; however, these additional benefits may not always be immediately obvious nor easily quantified. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study to comprehensively examine the costs and benefits of stormwater BMPs using a triple bottom line (TBL) approach. A literature review of over 100 publications was conducted in order to identify and help quantify the co-benefits of green infrastructure. Co-benefits monitoring, including temperature analyses, time-lapse cameras, and pollinator surveys, was conducted at a variety of green infrastructure types and locations.

Identified co-benefits included carbon sequestration, urban heat island reduction, reduced energy demand, improved urban habitat, improved soil health, increased abundance and diversity of pollinators and wildlife, improved air quality, and green job creation. The cost analysis of green infrastructure spanned both economic and environmental costs, derived from construction and maintenance details from existing stormwater controls along with SimaPro, an environmental life-cycle analysis database. The results of co-benefits and cost analyses were compiled into an online computing tool designed to inform planning and outreach efforts and compare different green infrastructure control types and designs. Given basic design characteristics, the tool calculates quantitative results for more than 25 cost and benefit parameters based on research efforts. These costs and benefits can then be compared against community needs, combined with costs and benefits from other green infrastructure controls for large scale assessments, or displayed in a graphical head to head comparison with another green infrastructure type or design.

This study and the online calculator have provided an improved understanding of the full impacts of green infrastructure and stormwater BMPs, further validating implementation efforts and providing valuable support to planning and public outreach efforts.

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Horizons Fall 2017 (pdf)

Horizons showcases significant water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater projects and innovations that help our clients to achieve their goals, and can help you achieve yours. Articles are written by top engineers and process group leaders, demonstrating and explaining the beneficial application of a variety of technologies and tools.

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