CSU research quantifies the value of urban landscapes Email
Written by ALCC   
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 05:00 AM

landscapeResearchers at Colorado State University published “The Hidden Value of Landscapes: Implications for Drought Planning” this year and are speaking with Colorado water managers and stakeholders this summer about their findings.

This study, for the first time, has quantified the return on investment (ROI) of the water used for landscapes given the significant environmental, economic and social benefits our green spaces provide. It reports that Colorado landscapes use only 3% of available water consumed in Colorado.

The team found landscape benefits which fall into three major categories:

  • Environmental: carbon sequestration, reduce air pollution, create oxygen, reduce heat island effect, improve water quality and provide wildlife habitat.
  • Societal: increase property values and reduce crime.
  • Public health: stress relief, fitness and child development.

The study demonstrates that urban landscapes should not be the sole target of water utilities during drought or regarded as easily replacement or disposable. Eliminating landscape water by turning off the spigot or offering “cash for grass” rebates is a short-term fix that creates complex, long-term problems.

A key takeaway from the study is that while any effort at drought management requires plans that save water, those plans should not threaten the viability of landscaped areas. Maintaining healthy landscapes does come at some cost, but the unintended consequences and costs of sacrificing landscapes during drought outweigh the benefits.

The CSU researchers concluded that when considering the ecological, economic and sociological benefits provided by landscaped areas, the use of a mere 3% of Colorado’s total water to maintain them is a legitimate allocation of water resources.   

The study provides guidance for water providers, organizations/municipalities and property owners on how our landscapes should be managed during times of drought. Read the full study.

Landscape professionals may find it helpful to use statistics from the study in marketing materials. A rack based on the study findings is available to ALCC members by contacting ALCC at 303 757-5611

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Matt Hiner recognized as landscape industry emerging leader
A little landscape water reaps big benefits
Denver requires energy benchmarking for buildings

Morrison School House is a model of sustainable practices

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