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Economic Development + Stormwater – What's New?

This is a good example of:

Leveraging stormwater management investments for economic returns in urban areas


This booklet is a product of a 2014 American Planning Association national conference session titled “Shared Stormwater Systems as Economic Incentives.” The session, presented April 29, 2014 in Atlanta GA, outlines strategies for using shared stormwater systems to enhance the environment while attracting and retaining businesses.

Danielle Gallet of Center for Neighborhood Technology and Lisa Nisenson of the tech start-up GreaterPlaces wanted to go beyond the typical conference session and create a presentation that (1) gathered examples from green infrastructure practitioners, (2) provided the audience with the latest on “this is how you get green infrastructure done,”  (3) leveraged the knowledge of the assembled audience, and (4) delivered a product community advocates and professionals can use long after the conference is over.

The session flowed as follows:

1) Making the case for better stormwater design & meeting multiple objectives at once – Danielle presented material from Lancaster Pennsylvania on valuing green infrastructure. Because green infrastructure represents a substantial shift from conventional practices (curb, gutter and pipes),  cities need to be convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks challenges associated with adopting new practices.
There are three main changes that cities and ratepayers need to recognize:
  • Green infrastructure requires understanding cost avoided and returns on a longer time horizon (e.g. over 25 years rather than an annual or five year capital budget cycle);
  • Green infrastructure delivers a multitude of benefits, which requires looking across several budget categories;
  • Green infrastructure is not intended to fully replace gray infrastructure, however, green infrastructure typically reduces capital costs of a gray-only system.

For Lancaster, the avoided capital costs over 25 years came to $120,000,000, with additional benefits of close to $5 million.

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The suite of benefits related to green infrastructure from the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s “The Value of Green Infrastructure.” Click to enlarge.

2) What do land developers say?
  • Stormwater practices are rarely the driver in whether a project is economically viable or not
  • Redevelopment is typically less predictable and more expensive than a project developed on raw, undeveloped land.
  • Developers prefer best management practices that have multiple benefits and value (i.e. landscaping).
  • Strict regulations are acceptable as long as they are clear and predictable
  • Regulatory programs that allow a mix of on-site and off-site practices are a good idea.
3)  Types of new practices for green infrastructure
The latest examples of green infrastructure and shared stormwater systems – These examples apply to both individual properties and to shared green infrastructure within a planning area.  While green stormwater management and low impact design are common practices, they initially applied only to individual projects.   Here is a list (descriptions & links in the booklet):
  • Trading & Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs)
  • Innovative funds
  • Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) – new roles for managing green infrastructure
  • Public art
  • EcoDistricts, corridor and small area planning
  • Green streets & rails
  • Graphic design and explanatory materials

URL link to Main Resource:

Project Location :


Development Context:





Center for Neighborhood Technology, GreaterPlaces

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