Cities turn a new leaf to count the ROI of trees


Why trees? They have impact


The world’s most widely used approach to reporting on sustainability performance is the 20-year old Global Reporting Initiative. GRI asks reporters to engage stakeholders to determine its most important (material) issues and where they occur.

As cities and other public agencies conduct materiality assessments, they consistently identify material issues that relate to the overall health and well-being of their people. This seems rather intuitive, but how does one prove it or measure it?

The value of aesthetics, beauty and nature

Atlanta, Georgia

In 2015, Atlanta applied applied the GRI G4 Guidelines and consulted with over 300 local citizens for input on the most material issues for the city. They looked at the performance of factors economic (growing business and sustainability planning), environmental (energy, recycling, land use, air quality, mobility) as well as social and community-related (sustainable education, community health).

Atlanta goes even deeper into biodiversity and land use, and specifically discusses and quantifies a range of metrics relating to acres of parks, access to them, trees planted and community engagement and involvement. In fact, the Forest Service classifies Atlanta as one of the most forested urban areas in the country.