LI members invited to test GI Evaluation Toolkit
At a time when the rationale for every investment is being examined as never before and localism is the defining scale for driving change, public and private sector investors are seeking increasingly robust evidence of potential returns.
In response, a consortium of organisations – including partners responsible for environmental protection, economic development and urban design – has developed a unique toolkit of valuation techniques for green infrastructure.
The Green Infrastructure Valuation Toolkit provides – for the first time in the UK – a flexible framework for identifying and assessing the potential economic and wider returns from investment in natural assets and landscape improvements.
The Green Infrastructure Valuation Toolkit is now available as a prototype and free open source resource at www.bit.ly/givaluationtoolkit. LI members are invited to test it and feedback their comments.
What does the toolkit include?
A User Guide: this details what the Toolkit is for and how to use it. The Guide sets out the evidence base and rationale supporting each of the assessment tools, and provides case studies giving practical examples of how the Toolkit can be applied and the results presented. The Guide also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the Toolkit and highlights areas where further research or development work is needed.
A Calculator: this consists of a set of individual spreadsheet-based tools to assess the value of green assets or projects across a wide range of potential areas of benefit – such as climate change, health, or property values. Wherever possible results are given in monetary terms.
What will happen next?
The Green Infrastructure Valuation Network (GIVaN) has been set up to facilitate future collaboration on open source development of improved evidence, approaches and tools to support green infrastructure valuation.
The GIVaN seeks to collect feedback on:
- Experience of using the toolkit
- Other sources of improved or better evidence
- Suggestions on how the tools could be improved
- Ideas for new tool
- Development of the underpinning science
Feedback, expressions of interest, and offers to undertake development work on the Toolkit should be sent to: email@example.com.
Who created the toolkit?
The project was initiated in December 2008 by a consortium of organisations convened by Natural Economy Northwest, managed by Tees Valley Unlimited and involving The Northern Way, Natural England, Design for London and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), with support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and five economic development agencies: One North East, Yorkshire Forward Advantage West Midlands, the Northwest Development Agency, and the London Development Agency.
The toolkit has been successfully tested across the country on both existing and proposed improvements to green assets. The case studies include:
Belvedere employment area green links
Investment in Erith Marshes and the improved transport connection to the Belvedere employment area in the East London were shown by application of the toolkit to be very good value for money.
The total value of the benefits generated by the improvements was estimated to be £53.1m – £55.8m (present value). Just over half of this (56 per cent) was accounted for by that aspect of the site’s increased employment potential which was considered attributable to the green infrastructure. The other significant benefits included land and property uplift, improved labour productivity from fewer working days lost, enhanced health and well-being, recreation and flood alleviation.
The capital investment was made by regeneration and economic development agencies. The total cost of £10.54 million included the road construction and just £1.84 million of this related to the landscape improvements. This project therefore shows a very good rate of return on investment in the natural environment.
Liverpool Knowledge Quarter
Planned landscape investment in the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter is designed to enhance a major regeneration initiative. This diverse inner city neighbourhood contains three universities, two cathedrals, a teaching hospital and numerous entertainment venues. The area is currently blighted by piecemeal planning, poor pedestrian access, inappropriate highways schemes and neglect of the public realm. A programme of street tree planting, public space enhancement and installation of green roofs on new and existing buildings is proposed as part of major investment in the wider redevelopment of the area.
Use of the toolkit demonstrated that the value of the green infrastructure benefits would amount to between £29.3m and £45.6m (present value) compared to a proposed landscape capital investment of £29.7m. Benefits of increased employment account for 70–78% of this return and climate change adaptation benefits are estimated to represent 10-12 per cent.
According to the Mersey Forest: “The toolkit enabled us to provide a robust figure that showed the value of investing in green infrastructure in the heart of Liverpool. In our case street trees and green roofs were the predominant types. Retaining the green infrastructure in the projects to regenerate the area from the design stage to implementation will require this strong economic case.”
Following a major injection of capital from the National Lottery in 2006, application of the toolkit made it possible to evaluate the benefits associated with this traditional Victorian urban park in Stockton-on-Tees. These were calculated to be worth between £20.81m and £21.01m. 90 per cent of this value was associated with the positive impact on adjacent residential property values. The other monetisable benefits amounted to £2.07m to £2.21m at present value.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council said: “The study provides some really useful data to demonstrate the multi-functional nature of the park and its social, environmental and economic value. For a site like Ropner Park this helps to justify previous capital investment, and can be used to support the case for maintaining high-standards of management in the future in order to maximise the benefits to local people and the Borough.”