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Green Infrastructure

The Economics of Green Infrastructure

EPA’s research into the economics of green infrastructure strategies aims to identify:

  • costs associated with implementing green infrastructure practices; and
  • actions government agencies and other watershed stewards can take to make the practices economically and legally viable.

On this page:

Economic Incentives

EconomicsEPA has analyzed market mechanisms and incentives to use green infrastructure in reducing stormwater runoff. This research integrates perspectives from a variety of disciplines, including:

  • law,
  • economics,
  • social science,
  • hydrology, and
  • ecology. 

Shepherd Creek Pilot Project—EPA's Shepherd Creek pilot project assesses economic incentives designed to:

  • promote retrofitting of stormwater management practices in a suburban watershed; and
  • decrease excess stormwater runoff

Parikh, P., M. A. Taylor, N. T. Hoagland, H. W. Thurston, and W. Shuster. 2005. Application of market mechanisms and incentives to reduce stormwater runoff: An Integrated hydrologic, economic, and legal approach. J. C. Briden, ed. Environmental Science and Policy 8(2):133–144.

Roy, A. H., H. Cabezas, M. Clagett, T. Hoagland, A. L. Mayer, M. A. Morrison, W. D. Shuster, J. Templeton, and H. W. Thurston. 2006. Retrofit stormwater management: Navigating multidisciplinary hurdles at the watershed scale. J. Kaspersen, ed. Stormwater 7(3):16–29.

Shuster, W. D., M. A. Morrison, and R. Webb. 2008. Front-loading urban stormwater management for success: A perspective incorporating current studies on the implementation of retrofit low-impact development. Cities and the Environment 1(2):article 8, 15 pp.

Thurston, H. W., ed. 2011 Economic Incentives for Stormwater Control. ISBN: 9781439845608. CRC Press, LLC, Boca Raton, FL.

Thurston, H., H. C. Goddard, D. C. Szlag, and B. Lemberg. 2002. Trading stormwater abatement credits in Cincinnati's Shepherd Creek. Stormwater 3(5):50–59.

Thurston, H., H. C. Goddard, D. C. Szlag, and B. Lemberg. 2003. Controlling stormwater runoff with tradable credits for impervious spaces. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 129(5):409–418.

Thurston, H. W., M. A. Taylor, W. D. Shuster, A. H. Roy, and M. A. Morrison. 2010. Using a reverse auction to promote household level stormwater control. Environmental Science and Policy 13(5):405–414.

US EPA. 2008. Using Economic Incentives to Manage Stormwater Runoff in the Shepherd Creek Watershed, Part 1 (PDF)(66 pp, yy K, About PDF). Publication No. EPA/600/R-08/129. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. | Abstract

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Opportunity Costs

people in discussionThe development of effective economic incentives could benefit from EPA’s research into the opportunity costs of stormwater controls.

Sample, D., J. P. Heaney, L. Wright, C. Fan, F. H. Lai, and R. Field. 2003. Costs of best management practices and associated land for urban stormwater control (PDF)(25 pp, 450 K, About PDF). J. W. Labadie, ed. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 129(1):59-68.

Thurston, H. W. 2006. Opportunity costs of residential best management practices for stormwater runoff control. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 4(2):157–165.

Thurston, H. W., M. Taylor, and W. D. Shuster. 2004. Trading Allowances for Stormwater Control: Hydrology and Opportunity Costs. In Proceedings of the ASCE World Water Congress 2004, American Society of Civil Engineers, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 27–July 1, 2004, 50 pp.

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Program Assessments

EPA-involved research into the limitations of stormwater management programs in the United States has resulted in recommendations for improving the programs.  

Roy, A., S. J. Wenger, T. D. Fletcher, C. J. Walsh, A. R. Ladson, W. D. Shuster, H. W. Thurston, and R. R. Brown. 2008. Impediments and solutions to sustainable, watershed-scale urban stormwater management: Lessons from Australia and the United States. V. H. Dale, ed. Environmental Management 42(2):344–359.

National Research Council. 2009. Urban Stormwater Management in the United States. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

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