Could a rain garden on the lot of a private building help decrease crime in the neighborhood?

Investments in green infrastructure such as vegetated roofs, rain gardens, and permeable paving not only illustrate a developer’s commitment to healthier, sustainable communities—they can also benefit the bottom line in the form of higher rents, increased sales, and reduced crime, according to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The report, “The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value,” asserts that the cumulative benefits of these efforts can total in the millions of dollars over a 40-year period.

But communicating the value of such investments remains a challenge, according to Alisa Valderrama, senior project finance attorney with the NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation.
“Even if property owners did want to implement a green infrastructure retrofit, many would need financing for the project, all would require very quick project paybacks, and all would want to avoid inconveniencing their tenants,” Valderrama says.

The data in the report, however, may change some minds.