ASLA Releases Banking on Green Report


 A new report looks at the most cost-effective options for managing polluted runoff and protecting clean water, and finds that green infrastructure solutions save taxpayer money and provide community benefits by managing stormwater where it falls.

Released by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and ECONorthwest, Banking on Green: How Green Infrastructure Saves Municipalities Money and Provides Economic Benefits Community-wide, is a response to the need to further quantify the economic benefits of green infrastructure.  

“For many decades, landscape architects have been helping communities large and small manage their stormwater with innovative green infrastructure solutions, such as green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, and pervious pavements,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President at ASLA. “The case studies and the cost-analysis in this white paper clearly demonstrate that green infrastructure techniques are proven and cost-effective at managing stormwater, preventing flooding, improving water quality, and promoting public health. Landscape architects will continue to implement these projects in more and more neighborhoods across the country.”

The report’s top findings:

  1. Not only does green infrastructure cost less, but these practices can further reduce costs of treating large amounts of polluted runoff.
  2. Green infrastructure can help municipalities reduce energy expenses.
  3. Green infrastructure can reduce flooding and related flood damage.
  4. Green infrastructure improves public health by reducing bacteria and pollution in rivers and streams, which prevents gastrointestinal illnesses in swimmers and boaters.

Many American cities are already enjoying the benefits of green infrastructure, as studied in the report. For example, New York City’s plan to reduce combined-sewage overflows will save an estimated $1.5 billion over 20 years by incorporating green infrastructure, rather than relying solely on traditional “gray infrastructure,” such as installing massive pipes. In Louisiana, a high school in Baton Rouge spent $110,000 on bioswales and a rain garden to reduce flooding, rather than the $500,000 it would have cost to re-pipe the site.  

Water infrastructure costs will continue to be an issue for cash strapped municipalities.  The American Water Works Association estimates the United States will need to invest $1 trillion in water infrastructure between now and 2035. In places like Philadelphia, where the city just reached won the approval of regulators to spend $1.67 billion over 25 years to use green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff and mitigate pollution in their waterways, city leaders are seeing the cost and community benefits of a green infrastructure approach. As Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stated at the announcement of the agreement, “Where other cities are challenged by very expensive commitments for tunnels, tanks, and other gray infrastructure, we have worked with the state and the EPA to take this greener, more fiscally prudent approach that will realize multiple benefits.”  The Banking on Green report, along with the 479 green infrastructure case studies submitted by ASLA members, shows what communities across the country are discovering; green infrastructure techniques are efficient, cost effective tools to help address water infrastructure needs.

{To help address the need for additional research and technical support to implement innovative green infrastructure solutions Representative Donna Edwards and Senator Tom Udall have introduced the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act (H.R. 2030, S. 1115).  This legislation would provide grants to communities seeking to utilize green solutions, and would also establish at least 3 Centers of Excellence for Green Infrastructure across the country which would, among other things, provide technical assistance to state and local governments and conduct research on stormwater, sewer overflow reduction, and other approaches to water resource enhancement.  Finally, the legislation would promote the use of green infrastructure by encouraging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to integrate green infrastructure in permitting and other regulatory programs, codes, and ordinance development.}

Landscape architects play a vital role in designing, implementing, and managing these solutions at multiple scales. By capturing rain where it falls, green infrastructure controls runoff that mixes with oil, pesticides, and other pollutants as it runs over streets, parking lots, and yards into local streams.

Visit to download the report, view stormwater case studies submitted by ASLA members, and take part in the campaign for green infrastructure.


Kevin Fry
Director, PR and

JR Taylor
PR Coordinator