Green Infrastructure Symposium Demonstrates the Value of Greener Western Pennsylvania Communities
Thu, Oct 22nd 2009, 13:12. Filed under News Releases.
Pittsburgh, Pa. – October 22, 2009 – Leading experts described the economic, cultural and environmental benefits of green communities yesterday at a Green Infrastructure Symposium hosted by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
The term “green infrastructure” describes land-use planning and implementation that manages both natural and built landscapes to protect ecosystems and water quality – providing benefits to the communities that depend on these priceless resources. Speakers at the event, which was made possible through the support of the Colcom Foundation, offered compelling evidence that this type of planning and investment yields measurable, positive outcomes.
“Just as you would not build a house without a Blueprint, we should not continue to build our communities without a Greenprint,” said Chuck Flink, Founder and President of Greenways Incorporated and co-author of two award-winning books about greenways and trails.
Flink was one of seven distinguished guest speakers at the symposium, which was attended by area community leaders, neighborhood organizers, elected officials, nonprofit representatives and urban planning professionals. The speakers described benefits associated with greening trees, trails, gardens and parks, as well incorporating stormwater management strategies, into development plans for cities, towns and neighborhoods:
- Better health. Improved access to walking trails and other recreational opportunities helps to reduce stress and obesity.
- Stronger communities. Neighbors spend more time outside together, and become more invested in, greener communities.
- Higher property values. Proximity to green spaces such as parks and trails, as well as the presence of street trees, makes neighborhoods more desirable and increases property values.
- Economic benefits. Every dollar invested in greenway systems results in an economic return of at least $3.
- More vibrant commercial districts: Shoppers are willing to spend nine to 12 percent more for equivalent services in commercial districts with tree cover and other welcoming green features.
- Reduction in environmental costs. Effective greenway plans incorporate stormwater management strategies to reduce risk of flooding, while also adding scenic and recreational value.
Information and ideas presented at the symposium guided afternoon roundtable discussions geared towards application of leading green infrastructure strategies in local communities. In addition, through support of the Colcom Foundation, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will provide technical assistance to several communities ready to do detailed analysis and strategic thinking about green infrastructure.
“The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is so glad that we’re able to provide landscape enhancements to our public schools, trees along city streets, flowers and plants in downtown Pittsburgh, and gardens throughout the region,” said Cynthia Carrow, vice president of government and community relations for WPC. “Our goal is to help other organizations and community leaders realize how valuable greening projects like these are to their communities.”
Presenters at the symposium also included:
- Jennifer Greenfeld, Director, Street Tree Planting, Central Forestry & Horticulture, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
- Bill Jenkins, Director, Office of Environmental Information and Analysis, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3
- Howard Neukrug, Director, Office of Watersheds, City of Philadelphia
- Susan M. Wachter, Director, Wharton GeoSpatial Initiative; Richard B. Worley Professor of Financial Management; Professor of Real Estate and Finance, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
- Greg Watson, Vice President for Sustainable Development & Renewable Energy Trust, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
- Kathleen Wolf, Research Social Scientist, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington.
About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region’s quality of life by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC established six state parks and has conserved more than 227,000 acres of natural lands and waterways. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Mill Run, Pa. that symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 140 community gardens and greenspaces that are planted with the help of 8,300 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of 9,400 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org.
Director of Communications