Public perceptions of green infrastructure in Columbus, Ohio (USA)

Many cities are moving beyond conventional “gray” approaches by adopting green infrastructure (GI) strategies to manage flooding and water quality issues. GI can potentially generate economic and social benefits including cost-effectiveness and improved community aesthetics, health and well-being. Many see GI, therefore, as an important element of a sustainable urban landscape. To be effective, however, considerable planning is required to design GI technologies within and around existing land uses, utilities, and other physical constraints. This process also requires understanding how people work and live in such places and how they will react to changes in their local environment. Our research contributes to a growing literature exploring how public perceptions and feedback can shape future GI policies and decision making, and whether GI creates social, economic, and behavioral co-benefits. The need for public support is consistent with established landscape ecology principles on the importance of aligning with local values and expectations. Further, conceptualizing GI within the urban commons suggests that public and local user group perceptions should be considered in part because water user fees often pay for programs that result in distributed, visible landscape changes. Our work focuses on public perceptions of GI, the factors associated with support for GI, and its impacts on environmental and social behaviors. We present results from a baseline survey of over 500 residents in two socioeconomically different neighborhoods of Columbus, Ohio, USA. We find that residents who felt informed and involved in the GI program and who reported higher levels of knowledge of water quality problems were more supportive of GI installations. We also discuss variation in general perceptions of GI, water use behaviors, and social interactions and how they may be shaped by the large-scale GI program in Columbus. These surveys are part of a longitudinal study evaluating the impacts of GI.


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