Green Infrastructure Design and Visualization

EPA Grant Number: R835142C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R835142
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Center for Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management
Center Director: Echols, Stuart Patton
Title: Green Infrastructure Design and Visualization
Investigators: Orland, Brian A , Echols, Stuart Patton , Ready, Richard C , Shortle, James S.
Institution: Pennsylvania State University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through February 28, 2017 (Extended to February 28, 2018)
RFA: Sustainable Chesapeake: A Collaborative Approach to Urban Stormwater Management (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Water and Watersheds , Sustainability , Water


This research investigates two tightly-coupled roles for human perception in decision-making regarding stormwater management. First, the role of computer-delivered information, visual and verbal, in motivating the adoption of stormwater management practices. Second, the role of visualization as a component of choice models and other survey-based means of eliciting values for the non-commodity attributes of stormwater practices—the contribution of design to aesthetics and sense of place.


In the first case, while the environmental and economic benefits of new approaches to stormwater management have been widely disseminated, the adoption of any new practice will be influenced by the extent to which individuals and municipalities understand the expected changes. For the complex scenarios that play out in watershed management it is critical that that understanding embrace both commodity and non-commodity values. In communicating those, familiar verbal and numeric descriptions have important roles but the visualization of plans and community presentations have long been central to decisions regarding significant infrastructure projects, and the extent to which evaluations of visual attributes of the environment are integrated with environmental and economic outcomes will be critical to making the eventual decisions. Second, once alternatives have been clearly represented, they have broad uses in experiments aimed at eliciting the values of public and decision-makers who base their personal beliefs, policy choices and decisions on their perceptions of the concurrent acceptability of the various factors that have been presented to them, measured against their own values and knowledge of the situation.

Expected Results:

Addressing the first area in this proposal immediately brings useful barrier-removing tools to the decision settings in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and examines their efficacy in supporting decision-making; investigating the second area will develop critical knowledge about the trade-off strategies that watershed decision-makers and residents use in developing their attitudes regarding adoption and choices made in decision-making settings.

Supplemental Keywords:

water, watersheds, groundwater, land, global climate, precipitation, effects, effluent, discharge, public policy, decision making, communitybased, cost-benefit, non-market valuation, preferences, surveys, public good, socioeconomic, environmental assets, hydrology, engineering, social science, modeling, monitoring, surveys, measurement methods, Mid-Atlantic

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R835142    Center for Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R835142C001 Decision Making – Cognitive and Institutional Barriers
    R835142C002 Green Infrastructure Design and Visualization
    R835142C003 Hydrologic and Water Quality Modeling for Green Infrastructure
    R835142C004 Non-Hydrological Benefits and Citizen Preference
    R835142C005 Public Engagement and Outreach