Eco-friendly features are cropping up on buildings around the country. In addition to green roofs and solar panels, private-public partnerships are increasingly building more efficient and cost-effective stormwater systems. And owners are reaping major monetary rewards for their efforts.
Green infrastructure is an umbrella term for anything that helps manage stormwater naturally and often includes rain gardens, green roofs, cisterns and rainwater recycling. Stormwater runoff, which often contains oil, grease and fertilizer, is among the most consistent pollutants of local waterways, according to the U.S. National Research Council. With more development in urban areas consisting of concrete and other impervious surfaces, stormwater often has no place to go other than down the local sewage channel. Without mitigation, the stormwater can overflow channels, flooding streets.
With this in mind, local governments are starting to require some kind of green infrastructure within commercial development and are creating coordinated green infrastructure networks that include public and private sites.
The Urban Land Institute, which reviewed several water management and green infrastructure systems in a recent report, found in addition to benefiting the city, green infrastructure is adding value for property owners.
“We found that green infrastructure was capable of creating value,” ULI Senior Director of Urban Resilience Katharine Burgess said. “It created an enhanced user experience, improved placemaking opportunity and improved development yield of land to be used more efficiently.”
These additional amenities, such as green roofs, parks and water features, will often lead to rental increases. A 200-unit apartment complex at 1330 Boylston in Boston garnered an additional $300 to $500/month in rent for units that overlooked the green roof. The green roof cost $113K to build and the extra rent nets $120K/year, according to the ULI report.