Green infrastructure and urban forestry initiatives deliver a wide range of environmental benefits. To demonstrate the value to the community and measure your own progress, consider developing a full set of baseline measures, including:
- Greenhouse gas emissions;
- Water quality and quantity;
- Air quality, especially particulate levels;
- Stormwater runoff and capture; and
- Urban heat island effects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collects a variety of data on environmental impacts in communities, ranging from air pollution, water quality, and watershed health. Explore this website and contact your EPA regional office for additional advice. State agencies can also direct you to easily accessible data sets.
Often overlooked is the extent to which urban areas provide a important habitat for birds and wildlife. Most states coordinate efforts to improve this “backyard” habitat, either through state wildlife agencies or non-profits like National Wildlife Federation and American Bird Conservancy.
Check out the U.S. Forest Service’s primer on urban wildlife issues.