While the effects of green infrastructure on property values can be difficult to isolate, several studies have shown that green features do increase property values. On April 25, Kate Madison, policy analyst at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Center for Economic Development, presented preliminary data from research on the subject.

Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District’s permit requires that green infrastructure be used to capture an additional 3.8 million L (1 million gal) of stormwater each year of the permit term. While one of the main goals is to reduce combined sewer overflows, other benefits are becoming clear. According to Madison, an $835,000 green infrastructure project and overall revitalization of Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley increased industrial property values by 5.8%, adding an assessed $1.56 million to the city’s tax base. Based on this information, the investment would be paid off in 3 years.

The sewerage district also invested $11 million in green infrastructure in the city’s Lincoln Creek area, an economically depressed residential area that was prone to flooding and sewer overflows. According to Madison, property values increased by 20.4% for homes located within two blocks of the revitalized area.

Madison released her initial findings at the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust (Sweet Water) Clean Rivers, Clean Lake Conference. Check out other presentations from the conference. Also, for further reading on green infrastructure and property values, check out this 2011 guide to monetizing green infrastructure by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and this literature review on the economics of low-impact development from ECONorthwest.