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Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

  • 1.  Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-24-2020 02:42 PM
    Hi Everyone,

    I just did a quick search on this forum for the word "gentrification" and did not find a single result. I've noticed that, as engineers, we tend not to participate in the discussions around social equity and affordable housing. However, our role in the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in urban redevelopment projects cannot be denied, and these projects are often linked to gentrification. So, I wanted to get a conversation started on how we can bring these considerations into our projects to make sure that the people whose lives we are trying to improve can still afford their houses when we're done. We recently published an open-access article looking at what was available in the research literature on this subject (https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/12/2/522/htm), but I am interested in hearing from those of you who have first-hand experience.

    Thanks,
    Vini

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    Vinicius Taguchi S.M.ASCE
    Ph.D. Candidate
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 2.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-25-2020 10:09 AM

    There is a lot of data on how green infrastructure improves real estate value. check out:

    https://www.nrdc.org/resources/green-edge-how-commercial-property-investment-green-infrastructure-creates-value
    .
    https://www.landscapeperformance.org/case-study-briefs/uptown-normal-circle-and-streetscape

    https://www.arborday.org/trees/benefits.cfm

    I think you can make the assumption that higher rents, and higher prices correlate with gentrification. I'm  certain there is research on that as well



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    Albert Key Aff.M.ASCE
    Vice President
    Deeproot
    New York NY
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  • 3.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-28-2020 10:50 AM
    Vini,

    You bring up a good point and, to be honest, I have no answer for you. But, I came across the article linked below today. There are downsides to every design so the question persists about how to responsibly use our designs. Do the benefits of reduced crime outweigh the risks of a higher cost of living? There's a myriad of benefits that could come with GI, not least of which is employment for maintenance of the systems (which is crucial) and education on why it is valuable. It would be interesting to hear from communities and individuals who have been directly impacted in this way, for better or for worse. I will say, I'd hate to see the benefits of GI be withheld when there are probably ways around the increased property prices, it just takes some investigation.

    Perhaps the more GI is used, the risk of increased property prices will dwindle, but I'm no sociologist or economist.

    https://news.virginia.edu/content/study-examines-how-green-space-can-reduce-violent-crime
    Study Examines How Green Space Can Reduce Violent Crime

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    Gail Hayes EIT, S.M.ASCE

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  • 4.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-28-2020 12:27 PM
    Chattanooga did a GI project in a socio-economically depressed area of town & experienced that effect.  ...but given that the area no longer floods & now has a beautiful streetscape, no wonder values went up.

    Street prior to GI project
    Street after the GI project (flip pic upside down to directly compare)


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    Maria Price P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineering Manager
    City of Chattanooga
    Chattanooga TN
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  • 5.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 04-02-2020 12:11 PM
    Vini,

    I think one of the aspects one must consider when it comes to the issue of "gentrification" is what has been referred to as the trickle vs. the fire hose. Too often in our neighbourhoods -- especially those deemed "disadvantaged" -- we see two responses: Either a) a starvation of investment that leads to further decline (i.e. the trickle), or b) a massive infusion of spending that blows away nearly everything that previously existed in the neighbourhood all at once (i.e. the fire hose). Both approaches ultimately wind-up harming the people who live in the neighbourhood as they must deal with either a) diminished amenities, services, and quality of life from lack of investment; or b) massive disruption to their way of life from huge money and extreme changes that ultimately displace them completely.

    The answer, of course, is to strike the balance by seeking a middle path: We must incrementally invest in our neighbourhoods in such a way that they can adapt and evolve without complete neglect nor harmfully large infusions of capital. I've linked to an article below that does a much better job of explaining the concept. I'd encourage you to explore the website further to get a feel for some ideas and strategies that can help us mitigate the downsides associated with "gentrification;" it's a great resource!

    https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/6/19/the-trickle-or-the-fire-hose

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    Joel Dixon P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Manager
    Oklahoma City OK
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  • 6.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 06-15-2020 01:40 PM
    Very good point Vini, and something engineers should definitely be thinking about. I've seen this article and need to take a closer look!
    I also wanted to note that I am co-organizing an early career symposium to think about holistic/ multi-dimensional planning of green infrastructure, where concerns like 'green gentrification'  and equity will definitely be discussed. I encourage you to consider applying https://get-sets.com/

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    Lauren McPhillips Ph.D., A.M.ASCE
    University Park PA
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  • 7.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 06-16-2020 03:58 PM
    Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for sharing this excellent opportunity. I am looking forward to hearing more of the discussions on these topics, and I hope that other early-career individuals on this forum will take advantage of the opportunity.

    Best,
    Vini


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    Vinicius Taguchi S.M.ASCE
    Ph.D. Candidate
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 8.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 06-15-2020 04:48 PM
    Vini,

    You and I have shared thoughts on this discussion in the past.  I meant to follow this up when you brought this to Collaborate in February.  I finally have some additional time to respond.  You specifically bring up the point of gentrification, the change in the demographics of a location due to a project's benefits that can result in raising property values and taxes but also with the unintended, longer term consequence of displacing low-income families and small businesses.

    I did do some research into this and while I did not find information specific to "gentrification," I did find a fair bit of information on consideration of metrics for assessing social vulnerability (one in particular is the Social Vulnerability Index; SoVI; Cutter S L, BJ Boruff,  WL Shirley, 2003, Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Soc. Sci. Q. Vol 84, 242-61). ​ Sara Meerow and Josh Newall investigated some of these notions in the article "Urban resilience for whom, what, when, where, and why?" (Urban Geography, 2016). They reference how most metrics are not responsive to social dynamics, although a few touch on social justice goals. In fact, they point out that most scientists and engineers never give attention to issues of power, scale, and equity which encompass a broader perspective beyond gentrification alone.

    These are the kinds of trade-offs that all of us will need to evaluate in the future.  I am glad our young engineers will likely be more versed in this with a broader perspective of social benefits and impacts.  We do need to expand our research to improve our understanding of these connections. I think that also means that we must continue our openness to engaging in multidisciplinary studies.

    Keep up the good work!  I look forward to more discussion on this topic!

    Scott Struck, Ph.D., ENV SP, F.EWRI
    EWRI President



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    Scott Struck Ph.D., F.EWRI, M.ASCE
    Lafayette CO
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  • 9.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 06-22-2020 03:34 PM

    https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20200621/stormwater-solution-roger-williams-park-project-model-for-other-communities

    Please see the attached article above on this exact issue.  It mentions how green infrastructure in the park is being used to benefit the surrounding community.



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    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 10.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 06-23-2020 11:54 AM
    That's an amazing project!  It's a bit more than I think most areas are looking to construct.  Atlanta's Historic Fourth Ward Park is a shining example on a more manageable scale:  https://www.hdrinc.com/portfolio/historic-fourth-ward-park

    The triple bottom line is being considered in many stormwater projects now.  ConTech has a good article on that (triple P's): https://www.conteches.com/stormwater-article/article/120/stormwater-policy-and-the-triple-bottom-line-are-we-doing-what-we-need-to-prote

    In Chattanooga, we've seen quite the socio-economic impact around GI installations and there are certainly pro's & con's.   Community buy-in and education are key.

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    Maria Price P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineering Manager
    City of Chattanooga
    Chattanooga TN
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