Performance and Effectiveness of Urban Green Infrastructure: Maximizing Benefits at the Subwatershed Scale through Measurement, Modeling, and Community-Based Implementation

EPA Grant Number: R835555
Title: Performance and Effectiveness of Urban Green Infrastructure: Maximizing Benefits at the Subwatershed Scale through Measurement, Modeling, and Community-Based Implementation
Investigators: McGarity, Arthur E , Hobbs, Benjamin F. , Rosan, Christina , Welty, Claire , Heckert, Megan
Institution: Swarthmore College , University of Maryland - Baltimore County , The Johns Hopkins University , Temple University
Current Institution: Swarthmore College , Temple University , The Johns Hopkins University , University of Maryland - Baltimore County
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2017 (Extended to September 30, 2018)
Project Amount: $1,000,000
RFA: Performance and Effectiveness of Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Approaches in the Urban Context: A Philadelphia Case Study (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Watersheds , Water


The primary goal of this study is to test the hypothesis that quantifiable benefit functions can be developed to optimize investments in Green Infrastructure (GI) for controlling urban stormwater runoff.  We will test methodologies for delineating zones of green infrastructure (ZGIs) that encompass the range of attributes influencing performance, benefits, and costs of GI practices, in the context of community-based implementation.  We will identify and calibrate mathematical functions relating multiple GI benefits to implementation costs in different ZGIs.  The usefulness of benefit functions will be investigated by applying them in tools for evaluation, optimization, and adaptive implementation of GI practices to facilitate transfer of this project’s results to other urban centers.


Three sites in the CSO area will be instrumented and monitored for one year to evaluate individual GI practice performance and to calibrate a subsurface flow model that will be applied at the subwatershed level.  We will conduct interactive community-based research engaging our community and municipal partners who will bring local experience with the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters program related to the effectiveness of GI investments.  We will use simulation models, evolutionary optimization, and spatial statistics to develop mathematical benefit functions that estimate GI costs and predict benefits (e.g., runoff reductions, improvements in ecosystem services, and ancillary community benefits).  Uncertainties in benefit functions will be quantified and incorporated into an adaptive management process incorporating multiple objectives by extending the StormWISE optimization framework for systematic evaluation of trade-offs among different benefits.

Expected Results:

Project outputs are refined methodologies for accurate life-cycle performance assessment of GI practices and for evaluation of cost-effective, adaptive GI implementation strategies at the subwatershed scale.  Additional outputs include reports, peer reviewed papers, transferrable tools, and STEM education at multiple levels.  Project outcomes are expected to increase national capabilities for assessing and implementing cost-effective GI practices for urban stormwater management at the subwatershed level, especially in cities with combined sewers.  Our project’s “bottom-up” approach incorporating community input at all stages will enhance prospects for widespread successful implementation of green infrastructure.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 56 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

modeling, decision making, community-based, cost benefit, groundwater, urban hydrology, sustainable development, integrated assessment, life-cycle analysis, innovative technology;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • Final Report