A new report evaluates some of green infrastructure's benefits—green roofs, rain gardens, tree plantings, permeable pavements—to commercial property owners and their tenants.
The December 2013 report, produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), looked at a range of benefits: energy savings, higher rents and property values, reductions in water bills and local financial incentives, such as tax credits and stormwater fee credits.
The report found that the benefit value over 40 years could range from $2 million to $24 million for individual buildings.
Larry Levine, senior attorney for NRDC's water program, says that, much in the same way commercial-building owners have begun to retrofit buildings to maximize energy efficiency, reducing energy costs and greenhouse emissions, building owners also can derive both economic and societal benefits by retrofitting buildings using green infrastructure.
Although current regulations generally do not require property owners to retrofit existing developed sites, the NRDC is looking to change that "at the regulatory front." NRDC, along with several other environmental advocacy groups, this summer filed three petitions with the Environmental Protection Agency to force the agency to develop more stringent standards for stormwater runoff from existing developed sites in areas in which the watershed is impaired.
Industry groups, including the Associated General Contractors and the National Association of Home Builders, have opposed an EPA proposal that would impose more stringent limits on post-construction runoff on developed sites, saying it would impose requirements well beyond anything they are currently required to do. That regulation has been delayed. The petitions are a "way of getting to the same result" in improving water quality, Levine notes.