Co-author Dr. Mandarano has presented our paper at the 55th annual conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) in Houston, TX.

Green Infrastructure Investment: The Roles of Community Context and Capacity
Authors: Lynn Mandarano, Mahbubur Meenar, and Brian Blacker

Abstract: This paper presents the results of research funded through an EPA STAR grant focused on assessing Philadelphia’s Green Infrastructure (GI) program. This aspect of the four year interdisciplinary research project seeks to understand the distribution of public and private sector investments in GI projects across the diversity of neighborhoods with respect to indicators of community context and capacity. Where context is defined as characteristics that inhibit and capacity as factors that facilitate collaboration within communities and with external partners. Community context and capacity are deemed integral to the success of the Philadelphia GI program as the Philadelphia Water Department is relying upon collaborative approaches to facilitate the voluntary implementation of GI practices on publically and privately owned lands. The Philadelphia Water Department identified nine collaborative approaches (Green Streets, Green Schools, Green Public Facilities, Green Public Open Spaces, Green Industry, Institutions, Commerce and Business; Green Driveways; Alleys and Green Parking, and Green Homes) in its Long Term Control Plan Update (Philadelphia Water Department 2009). Private sector investments in GI mandated by stormwater regulations for new construction and major rehabilitation also are assessed in relation to these two sets of indicators.

The research design seeks to assess two central hypotheses: public sector collaborative approaches to implement GI programs can result in inequitable distribution of GI practices related to each community’s context and capacity to be an effective partner. Private sector investments in GI resulting from regulatory compliance are influenced by market preference to avoid high risk communities resulting in disproportionate investment patterns that favor low context and high capacity neighborhoods.

The research employs a GIS-based model and statistical analysis to assess the distribution of GI practices in relation to indicators of community context and capacity. Generally available demographic data was used by the researchers to develop indices of community context and capacity using variables identified in the planning and community development literature (Foster-Fishman et al 2007; Emery and Flora, 2006; and Chaskin, 2001). Data for the location of GI projects implemented by the public and private sectors were provided by the Philadelphia Water Department.

Final results will be available in time for a conference presentation. Results for voluntary collaborative investments are inconclusive at this time. Preliminary results based on incomplete GI project data indicate a positive correlation between mandatory private sector investment and community capacity. While preliminary, this result supports the second research hypothesis and suggest there is a need to alter the current policy to achieve a more balanced pattern of investment.