Tomonaga’s post discusses the element of planning and design known as green and blue infrastructure. He explores the social benefits of this type of development that is often seen as more of a luxury rather than a commodity, using Newcastle as a case example for its relevance in modern day design. One component of Tomonaga’s post that interested me was the economic stress that this type of infrastructure can cause with no obvious or immediate pay back. I previously carried out research in to this topic while writing my Urban Planning undergraduate dissertation. This covered the benefits of Green Infrastructure, as well as economic solutions to the issues that put it at a disadvantage within the decision-making process.
The issue brought up within my dissertation was that there is no comparable way of assessing the impact of green infrastructure in terms of its social, environmental and even economic benefits, against the cost of installation and maintenance. Tomonaga identifies a number of vital social and environmental benefits of green and blue infrastructure such as better quality air and reduced flood risk. However, there is no tangible way in the current planning system of giving these benefits any sort of monetary value and as such, this leads to them carrying very little weight in the decision-making process of a development.
My research aimed to identify the best way in modern day planning of giving green infrastructure an economic value looking at the effectiveness of different methods. The chosen method for my study was ‘Contingent Valuation’, which within the context of this study sought residents responses when asked their ‘willingness to pay’ for the installation and upkeep of green infrastructure in their neighbourhood. This data from the public produced a monetary value or fund that would equally weigh up the pros and cons of green infrastructure, giving it a greater prominence in development proposals.
Future of Green Infrastructure
Green Infrastructure is quick becoming an integral part of the movement in modern day design known as Landscape Urbanism. The rise of this movement in modern literature and practise suggests the importance of Green Infrastructure in future design. Advocated by the Landscape institute it is evident that Green Infrastructure is being taken more seriously in modern day design and planning policy.
However, I still believe that the gap in knowledge with regards to the overall benefits of Green Infrastructure as well as its economic impacts are holding back the concept from truly being integrated in to the design process. If developers could look past just the monetary statistics of a development this would lead to a much better quality of design and I believe it is our role as designers to push for this type of design in the future!
- Landscape Institute (2013). Green Infrastructure, An integrated approach to land use. [online] Available at: https://www.landscapeinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Green-Infrastructure_an-integrated-approach-to-land-use.pdf [Accessed 6 Jan. 2018].
- Wilker, J. and Rusche, K. (2013a) ‘Economic valuation as a tool to support decision-making in strategic green infrastructure planning’, Local Environment, 19(6), pp. 702–713. doi: 10.1080/13549839.2013.855181.
- Wilker, J. and Rusche, K. (2013b) Economic valuation as a tool to support decision-making in strategic green infrastructure planning. (19 Vols). Informa UK.