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Comparing Green and Grey Infrastructure Using Life Cycle Cost and Environmental Impact: A Rain Garden Case Study in Cincinnati, OH.
Vineyard, D., W. Ingwersen, T. Hawkins, X. Xue, B. Demeke, AND W. Shuster. Comparing Green and Grey Infrastructure Using Life Cycle Cost and Environmental Impact: A Rain Garden Case Study in Cincinnati, OH. JOURNAL OF AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION. American Water Resources Association, Middleburg, VA, 51(5):1342-1360, (2015).
To present a life cycle environmental impact and cost assessment of a green infrastructure system (the Shepherd Creek rain gardens) in comparison with traditional stormwater capture and treatment infrastructure.
Green infrastructure is quickly gaining ground as a less costly, greener alternative to traditional methods of stormwater management. One popular form of green infrastructure is the use of rain gardens to capture and infiltrate stormwater in to the ground. We used life cycle assessment to compare environmental impacts of residential rain gardens constructed in the Shepherd’s Creek watershed of Cincinnati, OH to those from a typical detain and treat system consisting of a storage tunnel and a wastewater treatment plant. Complementary to the life cycle environmental impact assessment, the life cycle costing approach was adopted to compare the equivalent annual costs of each of these systems. These analyses were supplemented by modeling a variety of alternative scenarios to capture the variability in implementing a green infrastructure strategy. Our models suggest that rain garden costs and impacts are determined by labor requirement and distance traveled by contractors; the traditional alternative’s impacts are determined largely by the efficiency of wastewater treatment while costs are determined by the expense of tunnel construction. Gardens were found to be the favorable option, both financially and environmentally, provided low maintenance regimes, especially under higher discount rates. Wastewater utilities may find significant life cycle cost and environmental impact reductions in implementing a rain garden plan.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION
SYSTEMS ANALYSIS BRANCH