#8 The ROI of Cool: Quantifying the Values and Benefits of Open Space and Trails - Havenstrite
The ROI of Cool:Quantifying the Value of Linear Parks, Trails and Greenspace 2012
A Quick SummaryToday we have more projects competing for fewer dollars.So it is more important than ever for projects… particularly Green projects… to be able to quantify their benefits. This presentation will explore the value of shifting the Green Infrastructure discussion points from qualitative to quantitative.
Linear Parks and Trails are CoolThey are pretty. They are playgrounds.They are civic centers. They are centerpieces of civic pride.And they define our communities.And they are good for local economies.
Richard Florida Says SoHis ‘Creative Class’ premise argues that…“While it remains important to have a solid business climate and good schools, regions interested in attracting the most talented and creative workforce should invest in lifestyle amenities like public art, cultural venues, parks and running trails, safe bike lanes, and on and off road cycling venues.”These amenities will be the decisive source of competitive advantage among communities.
So Does Michael Bloomberg“Economists may not say it this way but the truth of the matter is: being cool counts. When people can find inspiration in a community that also offers great parks, safe streets and extensive mass transit, they vote with their feet.”
Well, There’s MoneyWe now have more infrastructure projects competing for less money, and parks and trails are expensive. Land is expensive. Construction is expensive. Maintenance is expensive.‘Do the right thing,’ Creative Class arguments are no longer enough to justify funding.
The Solution?Show that Green Infrastructure offers benefits that offset the costs. Quantify the value of, or provide an ROI for, Green infrastructure.
But do Parks and Trails have an ROI?If a community invests millions in the design and construction of new trails and acres of parkland what will they get in return?Or said another way… “What is the ROI of that Green Infrastructure?” Buffalo Bayou Partnership Buffalo and Beyond Master Plan, 2002, prepared by Thompson Design Group
It’s All of the Above… and More. But How Do You Prove It?
MathThe following Case Studies briefly explore some of the benefits flowing from Green Infrastructure, as well as the math and methodology backing them up. Case Study 1: Major Metro Case Study 2: Mixed Use Suburban Case Study 3: Low Density Semi‐Rural
Step One: Think BigWhat sectors of a local economy might a trail system impact the most?• Fiscal • Transportation• Environmental • Public Health
Step Two: Dig InWhere do the benefits accrue?Individuals Benefit Communities BenefitMunicipalities Benefit Corporations Benefit
Step Three: Determine What You Can Measure• Recreation Benefits • Air Quality (CO2, NOx, VOC)• Health Care Cost • Carbon Sequestration Savings • Ecosystem Services• Vehicle Operating Cost • Clean Water Savings • Property Tax• Crash Risk Reduction• Property Value Premiums
Step Four: Have Fun With Numbers• Most benefits are derived from the number of individuals who can be expected to use the trails in some form – cyclists, hikers, runners, walkers, general recreational users, and commuters• User counts are predicated on population proximity to the park/trail system with 1.5 miles being the limit of influence• Using population counts within 1.5 miles on either side of the park/trail created a 3 mile‐wide band overlaying the entire system
Oh… Here Are Our Sources. Mostly.• User predictions, the key to estimating impact and benefits, are based on work developed in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration• Assumptions and methodologies have been reviewed and discussed with experts at Rice University, Texas A&M, Baylor College of Medicine, Harris County Flood Control, and Houston‐Galveston Area Council (H‐GAC) • Data provided by H‐GAC, Trust for Public Lands, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Census Bureau, Texas Transportation Institute, League of American Bicyclists, Houston Parks Board
Major Metro Case Study The Houston Parks Board’s Bayou Greenway Initiative300 Miles of Trails for $490 Million
Bayou Greenway NumbersSo, It Costs $490 Million to Build and Connect 300 Miles of Trails and You Estimate it Will Generate What…? Recreation Benefits $ 63,209,711Health Benefits $ 13,927,262Vehicle Operating Cost Savings / Congestion Relief $ 3,778,207Crash Reduction $ 280,336Air Quality: VOC, NOx, CO2 $ 140,690Carbon Sequestration $ 5,794EcoSystem Services $ 20,972,475Clean Water $ 390,890Property Value $ 21,642,036Estimated Annual Total (Moderate) $124,347,400Total Number of Individuals Living Within 1.5 Mile Buffers: 1,919,228
Okay, What’s the ROI on Bayou GreenwayTake $124,347,400 (Annual Benefits Estimate), divide that by $490,000,000 (Estimated Cost to Build 300 Miles of Trails) and you get an annual ROI of .25.Said another way, the projected benefits flowing from the project will exceed construction costs in 4 years.
Mixed Use Suburban Case Study Energy Corridor Five Trails and a Tiger Grant
Option 4 NumbersFour separate trail alignments were considered. The followingrecaps the results for one of the scenarios, Option 4.Recreation Benefits $ 4,797,340Health Benefits $ 1,056,251Vehicle Operating Cost Savings / Congestion Relief $ 195,497Crash Reduction $ 14,506Air Quality: VOC, Nox, CO2 $ 7,280Carbon Sequestration $ 5,794EcoSystem Services $ 0Clean Water $ 0Property Value $ 2,366,004Estimated Annual Total (Moderate) $10,306,465Total Number of Individuals Living Within 1.5 Mile Buffers: 138,421
Low Density Semi‐Rural Case Study Bayou Watershed Masterplan Public Engagement
Bayou Watershed NumbersThe following projections are preliminary. Additional researchis being done to establish trail usage patterns, and assess theimpact of replanting native vegetation along the corridor.Recreation Benefits $ 4,299,411Health Benefits $ 947,631Vehicle Operating Cost Savings / Congestion Relief $ 162,272Crash Reduction $ 12,040Air Quality: VOC, NOx, CO2 $ 6,043Carbon Sequestration $ 554EcoSystem Services $ 1,251,434Clean Water $ 23,440Property Value $ 2,184,017Estimated Annual Total (Moderate) $ 8,967,892Total Number of Individuals Living Within 1.5 Mile Buffers: 119,974
Modeling Green Infrastructure What Else Can You Do Once You Quantify Green Benefits?
The Take AwayLinear parks, trails, bikeways, and greenspace are cool. And that “cool” has a very real value that can be quantified much the way construction materials can.So while funding for Green Infrastructure becomes increasingly dependent upon its ROI, qualitative “do the right thing” arguments will become less persuasive. And numbers will become more persuasive.Do the math.