dollars and sense report addresses economics of sustainability
October 25, 2010
OMAHA – Is a greener Omaha practical? Is the investment worth the outcome?
A report commissioned by Environment Omaha lays out a series of facts, case studies and comparisons that illustrate how the changes proposed by the initiative will affect the city. The Environment Omaha process – a partnership of the city, the community and Omaha by Design – has proposed a set of 25 goals in five areas to form a comprehensive new environmental section for the City of Omaha’s Master Plan. The Omaha Planning Board unanimously recommended approval of the initiative at its Oct. 6 meeting. The Omaha City Council will consider the planning board’s recommendation Dec. 14.
The report, titled “Sustainability Makes Dollars and Sense,” was written by John R. Bartle, Ph.D., and Gerard Wellman, MPA, School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. It’s broken down into five sections that mirror the five content areas of the Environment Omaha document.
“This study is suggestive, but not definitive in evaluating environmental and infrastructure investments,” Bartle writes. “Any specific case may differ from the results cited here, but the evidence is strong and compelling. Investors that carefully analyze the financial impact of their decisions often find they get a better return by taking a holistic, long-term approach.”
The report’s natural environment section looks at data pertaining to open spaces and parks, tree canopies and sprawl migration. Among the findings regarding tree canopies:
- Omaha’s 3.9 million trees remove 689,084 tons of carbon from the air – including 3 million pounds of ozone and 3 million pounds of particulates – and add 1% to home sale prices, resulting in $4.2 million in annual tax revenue for the City of Omaha.
The urban form and transportation section addresses data pertaining to transportation, parking and urban form. Among the findings regarding transportation:
- Individuals in transit-intensive areas save $22 billion in transportation costs each year. Eighty-three percent of the elderly say public transit provides easy access to things needed for everyday life, and public transit is a vital link for 51 million Americans with disabilities.
The building construction section focuses on data pertaining to green buildings and green roofs. Among the findings regarding green buildings:
- Over 20 years, the energy costs of green buildings are roughly $5.80 per square foot lower than non-green buildings.
The resource conservation section examines data pertaining to climate change impacts, pollution and alternative energy. Among the findings regarding pollution:
- More people in the United States die each year from air pollution than from firearms, illicit sexual behavior and illegal drug use combined.
The community health section explores data pertaining to obesity, parks and land use, transportation and pollution. Among the findings regarding obesity:
- Child and teen obesity rates are four to five times greater than in the early 1970s. Twenty-nine percent of Nebraskans are obese; 50 percent more than in 1990.
The report and the Environment Omaha document in its entirety are available online at www.environmentomaha.com. For more information, contact Omaha by Design at 402.554.4010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.