Quantifying the Benefit of Green Infrastructure with Autocase

Stephanie Nadeau | September 29, 2015


Major infrastructure projects today compete for scarce financing. For public works projects especially, it’s becoming more important to demonstrate the full value—beyond just financial Return on Investment (ROI)—to communities and other civic stakeholders. But to do that in an objective and comparable way is neither cheap nor easy…until now.

How do you value a ton of carbon dioxide saved from the atmosphere, or put a price on clean drinking water? Since these elements of public value aren’t easy to quantify, it’s not uncommon for them to be discounted or overlooked, especially for projects incorporating sustainable design strategies.

For example, improved water quality and increased recreational value—proven outcomes of green stormwater infrastructure projects—are often left out of financial analyses or left to subjective evaluation. This makes full comparisons of low-impact design projects to traditional projects difficult.

The Envision® Rating System has quickly become the LEED equivalent for infrastructure projects. And it’s designed to measure the ROI that addresses a project’s financial, social and environmental impacts—also known as the triple bottom line.

Major engineering firms like Stantec are promoting Envision with clients early on, attributing big project wins to their expertise with it. And they’re using tools like Autocase® to evaluate the business case for green infrastructure and low-impact development approaches to stormwater management.


Autocase for AutoCAD Civil 3D Screenshot


Autocase integrates with AutoCAD® Civil 3D® software (you can get the plug-in through the Autodesk Exchange App Store) to extract design information from the virtual model to feed into its associated full lifecycle economic model. That means an engineer or planner can get dynamic, real-time cost-benefit analysis feedback as she’s designing a project.

Stantec used Autocase with the City of Tucson and Pima County to determine the value of low-impact development over traditional stormwater management solutions. Using this triple bottom line valuation, they found green design strategies more beneficial over the project’s lifetime and used this analysis to help the city make regional policy decisions supporting green infrastructure.

Check out the video below to hear Stantec Managing Principal, John Wise, describe how Stantec’s Water sector was able to show that water harvesting provided a higher return on investment for the local community through the analysis and reporting of the Autocase tool.

Is your firm working on green infrastructure projects? Tell us about your challenges in the comment section below, and visit the Autocase page to learn more.

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