Measuring Green

What is the value of a street tree? Do green roofs really save money? What's the ROI on habitat creation? Clients say "Show me the money!"

economy, green rating systems, ecosystems


Jennifer Martel


Danielle Capozzi


Anna Ishii

Recent valuation of ecosystem services extends beyond nature’s commodities (food and water) to include climate regulation, support of industrial processes, and cultural and recreational assets. As these services are monetized, new economies are revealed. Mechanisms like carbon credits and biodiversity banking leave the valuation of specific services to the open market, but it may take decades for these emerging markets to be seen as a stable investment.

In the meantime, the development of green rating systems, such as LEED and the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), provides benchmarks for quantifying ecosystem services the built environment offers. Certification is more than a commitment to sustainability; it is a solid investment in the emerging green economy. WRT has observed a significant trend of clients pursuing certification for environmentally responsible design. The following projects embody that investment: