Arup Global Research Challenge: Delivering green infrastructure in cities through a new business model

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Abstract

Globally, green infrastructure is recognised as an important tool that can address a range of interwoven benefits in urban areas such as: reducing flood risk, reducing urban heat island effects, reducing water pollution, improving air quality, reducing noise, providing amenity provision and well-being. The challenges these benefits address are projected to intensify in the context of climate change and urban population growth. The potential to achieve these benefits is made difficult by the traditional models for delivering green infrastructure and complexities such as: understanding who benefits and hence who pays; valuing the benefits; the appropriate spatial scale for implementation; incentives and enforcement for its implementation and maintenance; and how its delivery interacts with existing infrastructure in urban areas.

Here we aim to identify, investigate and pilot tangible design, funding, implementation and operating models for green infrastructure which can be replicated or adapted internationally. An initial review of funding and delivery mechanism for green infrastructure will be undertaken from an academic and practitioners' viewpoint, drawing upon a range of literature sources. Simultaneously, laneways in Melbourne deemed suitable for 'greening' will be co-designed and implemented with local communities. An evaluation of the potential multiple benefits of laneways in the Melbourne will include social, economic and environmental benefits. An example of how these benefits can be quantified will be conducted in the context of flood risk by coupling Newcastle University's pluvial flood risk model of Melbourne that can illustrate the flood mitigation effect of green infrastructure with ARUP's economic tool, Floodlite. Stakeholder mapping of the beneficiaries, coupled with a conceptual map of how benefits flow, will inform the proposal of alternative business models for funding the delivery of laneways. These various elements will then be brought together to inform the development of a digital community funding platform for green infrastructure; this will be complimented by a set of recommendations and non-technical summary guide to green infrastructure funding. The process will be repeatable and transferable to enable communities to support green infrastructures in their neighbourhoods.

Joint funding from NERC and Arup (through their Global Research Challenge fund) will bring together teams from the scientific, government and practitioner communities and enable them to integrate the range of skills required to deliver this work.

Planned Impact

The mechanism of funding green infrastructure is a key inhibitor to its widespread implementation in cities. Development of a platform that identifies the main benefits and beneficiaries of the wide range of economic, social and economic values of green infrastructure, coupled with the development of appropriate approaches of funding will have widespread impact. The project will capture the wider range of values and benefits of green infrastructure and help identify and unlock funding and financing opportunities for GI, demonstrated using the green laneways of Melbourne. Furthermore, recognising and unlocking the full potential social and environmental benefits of GI, such as access to green areas for recreation or reduced air pollution will lead to improvements in health and well-being of communities. In the UK, the National Assessment of Ecosystem Services noted that because of these and other benefits, the value of living near green infrastructure is as much as £300 per person per year.

The unique, transferable platform for testing alternative funding mechanisms for green infrastructure may be used as a template for future green infrastructure projects that may be initiated by communities, local authorities or businesses at a range of spatial scales. The design and implementation of a qualitative in depth evaluation of the prototype green infrastructure project through interviews and consultation with project officers and other stakeholders in Melbourne, will be critical in order to collate individual experiences and derive learnings from the process of implementation. The learnings will be expected to be widely applicable and will allow refinement and validation of the conceptual framing of identifying the wide range of benefits and beneficiaries. Furthermore the evaluation will result in recommendations that can improve the transferable model and make it more applicable to be applied globally as well as understanding the specific circumstances in Melbourne.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Over the next 100 years, it is estimated that England will need £0.6-1bn annual investment to manage flood and coastal erosion risk. Given constraints on central government spending following the 2008 financial crisis, the full burden of this is unlikely to be met by government alone. There is therefore a need to consider the potential for alternative business models for flood risk management infrastructure.

An infrastructure business model describes how value is created, delivered and captured over the life cycle of the infrastructure system. Value is used, as opposed to benefit, as this better reflects the regard that something is held to deserve, its importance and worth. Business models should consider issues around funding, finances, governance, regulation and users. Alternatives to incumbent business models are starting to emerge across a range of infrastructure sectors, predominantly motivated by two key factors: (i) mainstream approaches do not deliver the benefits that communities want, (ii) tax payer funds are too constrained to deliver all the infrastructure investment that is sought.

This work has considered a number of alternative business models for flood risk management infrastructure. Typically, those under consideration or applied in other infrastructure sectors focus on alternative funding and financing arrangements. Important though these issues are, they take a narrow view to infrastructure value, and hence limit the diversity of actors and resources who might also enable truly alternative business models to emerge in practise. This paper identifies, and explores, a crucial first step to identifying and implementing alternative approaches. This involves taking a more systemic and longer term view to assessing infrastructure values. These should include social, environmental, resilience and other values of infrastructure - identifying who benefits, how they benefit, where and when the benefit occurs and accrues, and mapping interdependencies that may offer further risks or opportunities.
Exploitation Route We are in the process of publishing a number of business model 'templates' for others to consider and use. The Environment Agency (UK), Newcastle (UK) and Melbourne (Australia) City Councils are three of the organisations who have shown an interest and started to explore and test the different approaches.
Sectors Environment

 
Description The Environment Agency, Newcastle City Council and Melbourne City Council (working with local consultancy THICK) have been exploring the potential for applying these business models. They have fed into the government review of flood resilience, which has recognised the need to rethink how flood management infrastructure, especially green infrastructure, is funded and maintained. The work has also informed the development of the UKCRIC research programme and the investment in the Green Infrastructure research labs at Newcastle.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Appointed to National Infrastructure Commission Technical Expert Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact I advise the National Infrastructure Commission on their infrastructure planning and policies.
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/national-infrastructure-commission
 
Description Chaired the Infrastructure Section of the 2017 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact The CCRA conclusions were accepted by government. They are currently developing an adaptation strategy to address the risks identified.
URL https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/preparing-for-climate-change/climate-change-risk-a...
 
Description National Infrastructure Commission
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/national-infrastructure-commission
 
Description UKRI GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub
Amount £20,000,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/S008179/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 02/2024
 
Description Urban Green DAMS (Design and Modelling of SUDS)
Amount £780,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S005862/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2018 
End 12/2021
 
Description Arup 
Organisation Arup Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Results and expertise
Collaborator Contribution Data, stakeholder contacts, expertise
Impact Ongoing
Start Year 2016
 
Description Conference call with project stakeholders - update on the methodology and findings to date. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Mid-project dissemination event. Initial findings discussed and a shared view of how the project should progress.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Dissemination event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The projects main outputs and outcomes were presented to stakeholders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description IPCC Cities and Climate Change Conference - Session on Nature Based Solutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chaired a session and presented work at the UN IPCC Citeis and Climate Change Conference in Edmonton, 2018. The workshop involved academics, policy makers, industry, hird sector organisations and practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://citiesipcc.org/programme/