Green Spaces as Driving Economic Forces

Some of the more heavily discussed topics of early 2010 include renewable energy, green infrastructure and clean water. In particular, the addition and/or substitution of green spaces has been quite controversial as of late. Senior resident of Urban Land Institute Ed T. McMahon states “Green space adds value to property.” Not only would these areas of conservation drive economic trends upward, but they also improve the overall health of the surrounding community. For example, substituting spaces like golf courses for conservation areas would essentially increase surrounding property value while diminishing overpriced maintenance fees. The same holds true for airports and other large acre-eating developments.

Some of these areas are already abandoned or unkempt. For instance, park and recreational areas that were once highly visited have become urban wastelands. In an article from the Salt Lake Tribute, Lindsay Whitehurt discusses how an area that was capped with tennis courts to replace an old reservoir had been empty for some time now. She further explains how the University of Utah received a loan to fill the old reservoir and turn the land into a conservation area.



Much larger metropolitan areas are also playing their role in promoting sustainability by implementing many Green Spaces within the city. In Meg Muckenhoupt’s new book Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces, she discusses different green spaces within the city of Boston. With very low cost maintenance fees and little liability, these areas are perfect for protecting our wildlife and the environment. They also attract further tourism; which would in turn generate revenue from ticket/tour sales.

This aligns with the implications of “economic viability” and long term sustainability, posing the questions, “Would substituting golf courses and airports in the short term lead to an abrupt economic downfall?” It’s true that this type of architecture provides undoubtedly high revenue. On the other hand, they both come with ridiculously high expenses and maintenance. Incorporating various elements of green architecture implies things like green roofing, which could in turn drive down electrical/gas costs dramatically.

Larger organizations are already taking a step in the right direction in Haiti. Doug Band of CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) has been working closely with organizations like AFH (Architecture for Humanity) to discuss potential means of green restoration. Combined with the additional efforts of many large collaborative units like the USGBC (United States Green Building Council), they plan to rebuild Haiti in a greener fashion.

Recent findings have driven people like McMahon and fellow conservationists to investigate further into upgrading and expanding green infrastructure efforts. As Earth Day 2010 approaches, it’s important that we as individuals follow and support these ventures. It’s equally important that we adapt greener practices to support both our planet and our economy.


 



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