Research | Landscape Performance Series

Benefits Toolkit

textblock-toolkitThe Landscape Performance Series Benefits Toolkit is a searchable collection of online tools and calculators to estimate landscape performance.

The tools can be used to estimate specific landscape benefits for completed projects when actual measurements are not available, or they can be used in the design phase to compare projected benefits among various options. Many tools also allow the user to compare life-cycle costs for conventional and sustainable design features.

Know of additional tools to calculate landscape performance benefits? Help build the database by sending your suggestions to lps@lafoundation.org.

  • National Stormwater Calculator (SWC)

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    2013

    This free desktop application estimates the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site anywhere in the U.S. The calculator uses EPA’s SWMM model and accesses several national databases that provide local topography, soil, historic rainfall, and evaportaion information. It is most appropriate for performing screening level analysis of small sites of up to several dozen acres with uniform soil conditions. Required inputs are the site location and percentage of the site covered by impervious and four types of pervious surfaces. Users then input the percent of impervious area that will be treated by seven types of green infrastructure: disconnection, rain harvesting, rain gardens, green roofs, street planters, infiltration basins, and porous pavement. SWMM then runs a continuous time series of rainfall and runoff at 15-minute intervals. Outputs include average annual rainfall, runoff, and percent of all rainfall retained, as well as daily event statistics like days per year with runoff and smallest event with runoff. The calculator has an option that allows for a comparison of baseline and other scenarios. An update to the SWC, which will include the ability to link to several future climate scenarios, is expected by the end of 2013.

    http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/wswrd/wq/models/swc/

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      i-Tree Eco (v 4.0)

      USDA Forest Service
      2011

      i-Tree Eco (originally the Urban Forest Effects or UFORE model) uses detailed field data from complete inventories or randomly sampled plots to quantify urban forest structure, environmental effects, and value to communities. The study area can range from a single tree to a park to an entire county’s urban forest. Eco provides accurate estimates of air pollutant removal, carbon storage and sequestration, effects of trees on building energy use and emissions, and compensatory value of the urban forest. In version 4.0, the air quality model has been refined to include improved simulations, updated monetary values, and charts and tables that now display yearly, monthly, or hourly results. Users must register to download and install the free iTree software suite.

      http://www.itreetools.org/eco/index.php

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        The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits

        American Rivers, Center for Neighborhood Technology
        2011

        This broad analysis attempts to place an economic value on the numerous benefits provided by green infrastructure (defined here as a network of decentralized stormwater management practices). The report brings together current research on green infrastructure performance and presents methods for calculating related benefits. It offers simple equations to quantify water, energy, air quality, climate change benefits for green roofs, tree planting, bioretention and infiltration, permeable pavement, and water harvesting. To estimate the dollar value of each of these quantified benefits, examples and, when possible, simple equations are provided. The report also offers information and examples of benefits related to green infrastructure’s impact on the urban heat island effect, aspects of community livability, habitat improvement, and public education.

        http://www.cnt.org/repository/gi-values-guide.pdf

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          GBRL Green Roof Energy Calculator (v 2.0)

          Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Portland State University, University of Toronto
          2010

          This calculator compares the annual energy performance of a building with a green roof to the same building with either a conventional dark roof or a highly-reflective white roof. The results are based on simulations run for new construction (ASHRAE 90.1-2004) apartment or office buildings and use typical weather data for 100 major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Inputs include nearest major city, total roof area, percent green roof cover, growing media depth, and leaf area index of plants. With version 2.0, users can now specify whether construction is new or older and whether the green roof is irrigated or not. The calculator uses default utility rates for each city, or the user can enter his own. Results are the electrical, gas, and energy cost savings for a green roof compared to a dark roof and a white roof. Additional outputs with version 2.0 include heat exchange between the roof and the urban environment and an estimate of the annual roof water balance, including net runoff.

          http://greenbuilding.pdx.edu/GR_CALC_v2/grcalc_v2.php#retain

          2 View/Leave Comments
          1. Pam EmersonMay 9th, 2012 2:00pm
            Pam Emerson said:

            the link to this tool did not work ;^(

          2. Landscape Architecture FoundationMay 21st, 2012 10:26am
            Landscape Architecture Foundation said:

            The tool has been upgraded from v 1.1 to v 2.0 -- we fixed the link and updated the description. Note that the new version has some added functionality. From Dr. Sailor at Portland State:

            What is new in version 2?
            * user can now specify new or older construction for both commercial and residential buildings
            * user can specify whether the green roof is irrigated or not
            * model output for sensible and latent heat exchange between the roof and the urban environment is now given
            * the model now outputs an estimate of the annual roof water balance.

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        1. ICLEI Active Transport Quantification Tool

          Australian Government Department of the Environmental and Water Resources, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability - Oceania, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation
          2007

          This online assessment tool estimates public health, community, and environmental benefits of walking or riding bikes as alternate forms of transportation. The user adds actions such as walking or riding to school or work, along with the distance and frequency of these trips. The tool then quantifies the financial benefits associated with less driving, congestion, pollution, heart disease, and other health and community benefits, as well as the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The tool is free, but requires users to register and login in order to use it.

          http://att.ccp.iclei.org/

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          1. Joming Lau`Dec 2nd, 2011 5:52am
            Joming Lau` said:

            This tool has stopped working, and redirects to a web hosting site.

          2. Landscape Architecture FoundationDec 7th, 2011 4:31pm
            Landscape Architecture Foundation said:

            Thanks for the heads up. I'm trying to track down whether the tool has been moved or taken down...

          3. Jessie YoungJan 2nd, 2013 1:37pm
            Jessie Young said:

            Is there any update on the status of this tool?

          4. Douglas PardueJul 11th, 2013 10:13am
            Douglas Pardue said:

            Just curious if anything more has been found on the status of this tool. Still redirects to hosting site. Thanks.

          5. Shannon MIKO MikusAug 27th, 2013 8:56pm
            Shannon MIKO Mikus said:

            The link does not direct one to the tool site. I noticed that this has been mentioned, I'm just wondering if this tool will be working, soon?

          6. Shannon MIKO MikusJan 21st, 2014 12:41am
            Shannon MIKO Mikus said:

            Perhaps the above link should be connected to this one?

            http://www.thinkingtransport.org.au/library/2010/11/active-transport-quantification-tool

            I googled the search term "ICLEI Active Transport Quantification Tool" and this site was listed. Please let me know if this was the right place. Many Thanks!
            MIKO

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          Excel Resource Conserving Landscaping Cost Calculator

          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
          2007

          This calculator compares the cost of converting conventional landscapes to landscapes that require less irrigation and produce less waste. Inputs include: configuration of the current landscape (proportion that is comprised of flowers, turf, shrubs, and ground cover), configuration of landscape retrofit, length of growing season, and area of watering zones based on frequency of irrigation. The calculator estimates the initial, 3-year, 6-year, 10-year, and average annual costs for the original landscape and water-saving retrofit. Costs include water use, maintenance, and waste disposal. Users have the option to input their own cost information.

          http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/greenscapes/tools/landscape.xls

          4 View/Leave Comments
          1. ChrisBinderJun 26th, 2013 3:54pm
            ChrisBinder said:

            This link is dead.

          2. KathleenSep 27th, 2013 12:44pm
            Kathleen said:

            Need to update the link! Current link sends you to
            EPA: "Please return to the previous page: http://www.lafoundation.org/research/landscape-performance-series/toolkit/?benefit=category_id_3

          3. Heather FuhrmanOct 15th, 2013 1:29pm
            Heather Fuhrman said:

            The correct link for this tool is:

            http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/greenscapes/tools/

            All EPA tools (erosion calc, recycling calc, decking cost, resource conservations etc. can be found with this link)

          4. Landscape Architecture FoundationOct 15th, 2013 3:26pm
            Landscape Architecture Foundation said:

            Thank you, Heather! I've made the update.

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          Benefits
          O&M savings

          Excel Decking Cost Calculator

          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
          2007

          This calculator compares the costs of building a new deck with recycled plastic, recycled wood/plastic composite lumber, cedar/redwood, and pressure-treated yellow pine. Based on the size of the project, the calculator estimates the initial, 3-year, 6-year, 10-year, lifetime, and average annual costs for each of these common decking materials. Costs include maintenance, and waste disposal. Users have the option to input their own cost information.

          http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/greenscapes/tools/decking.xls

          3 View/Leave Comments
          1. ChrisBinderJun 26th, 2013 3:53pm
            ChrisBinder said:

            This link is dead.

          2. Heather FuhrmanOct 15th, 2013 1:28pm
            Heather Fuhrman said:

            The correct link for this tool is:

            http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/greenscapes/tools/

            All EPA tools (erosion calc, recycling calc, decking cost, resource conservations etc. can be found with this link)

          3. Landscape Architecture FoundationOct 15th, 2013 3:18pm
            Landscape Architecture Foundation said:

            Nice discovery, Heather! I've updated the link.

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          Excel Erosion Control Calculator

          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
          2006

          This calculator is designed to help landscape and construction companies estimate the cost of using environmentally beneficial compost filter berms or compost filter socks for erosion control, rather than conventional silt fences. Inputs are: linear feet of erosion control needed, estimated duration of project, and whether or not compost will be removed after the project. The Cost Calculator demonstrates that environmentally preferable erosion control methods are very cost competitive for all project sizes and durations, and that they offer significant savings for projects that run for more than a few months.

          http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/greenscapes/tools/erosion.xls

          3 View/Leave Comments
          1. ChrisBinderJun 26th, 2013 3:53pm
            ChrisBinder said:

            This link is dead.

          2. Heather Fuhrman Oct 15th, 2013 1:28pm
            Heather Fuhrman said:

            The correct link for this tool is:

            http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/greenscapes/tools/

            All EPA tools (erosion calc, recycling calc, decking cost, resource conservations etc. can be found with this link)

          3. Landscape Architecture FoundationOct 15th, 2013 3:22pm
            Landscape Architecture Foundation said:

            Thanks, Heather! I've updated the link.

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