Getting the Green Out: Key Findings and Recommendations from NRDC Workshops on Promoting Green Stormwater Infrastructure on Commercial Property

Cities throughout the United States are embracing green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) as a means to reduce polluted stormwater runoff and satisfy the Clean Water Act, while also realizing public health, environmental, economic, and quality of life benefits of urban green space. GSI includes green roofs, rain gardens, cisterns, and other mechanisms that mimic natural hydrologic functions or that otherwise capture runoff on-site for productive use.

More and more communities are making major capital investments in GSI in the public right-of-way and on other public property. However, to fully protect and restore urban waterways, these cities will also need private landowners to manage more of the stormwater on their own properties. Therefore, many are actively seeking -- or are already implementing -- ways to motivate private landowners to implement GSI projects. To help accelerate GSI implementation in the private sector, NRDC's 2013 report, The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value, reviewed the lucrative benefits green infrastructure can bring to owners and tenants of commercial properties, including office, retail, and multi-family residential buildings.

As a follow-up to The Green Edge, NRDC has engaged with interested representatives of the commercial real estate sector to further explore how property owners and developers think about GSI; its economic benefits and challenges; and the information, data, or strategies needed to increase adoption. NRDC convened two all-day workshops on this topic with commercial developers, property owners and managers, appraisers, GSI designers (e.g., engineers, landscape architects), municipal and utility representatives, trade associations, and others. One workshop was held in Philadelphia in late 2014, and the other was held in San Francisco in early 2015.

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