Report Details the Long-Term Financial Benefits of Green Design

This report estimates that U.S. cities could save half a trillion dollars by investing in "smart surface technologies." The study takes into account obvious factors like energy use and less intuitive ones like tourism revenues.

1 minute read

February 20, 2018, 6:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Trees and People

WDG Photo / Shutterstock

A new report says cities could save big by adopting green design features like urban tree cover, green roofs, and reflective pavements. The study, Rachel Dovey writes, "comes from clean energy advisory and venture capital firm Capital E, with funding from the JPB Foundation (and a host of national partners)."

"By crunching numbers in three cities, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and El Paso, authors Greg Kats and Keith Glassbrook conclude that investing in what they term 'smart surface technologies' could deliver roughly half a trillion dollars in net financial benefits nationally."

Examples include an expanded urban forest in D.C. to provide energy-saving "ambient cooling," as well as less obvious benefits like the preservation of Philadelphia's tourism sector as temperatures rise.

"But many of the benefits [the report] analyzed," Dovey notes, "exemplify the kinds of long-term, systemic cost-savers that fiscal year-conscious governments often shy away from." Still, half a trillion is a eye-catching figure, especially considering the fact that many of these improvements are relatively cheap to implement.

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