Study Claims Open Space Generates Economic Benefits

March 2011Newsletters In the Zone

Conservation and planning leaders have released a new study claiming preserved open space throughout southeastern Pennsylvania generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits.

Commissioned by the GreenSpace Alliance and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the study quantifies the value of open space in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. The study—the first of its kind for southeastern Pennsylvania—examines the economic benefits associated with preserved open space in four key areas: property values; the environment; recreation and health; and jobs and revenue.

Approximately 14 percent of the land, or 300 square miles, in the five-county region is preserved open space. According to the study, this open space provides substantial economic benefits. Specifically, this space:

  • Increases homeowners’ property values by an average of $10,000 per household;
  • Saves local governments and utilities more than $132 million a year in costs associated with environmental services such as drinking water filtration and flood control;
  • Helps residents and businesses avoid nearly $800 million in direct and indirect medical costs and saves businesses an additional $500 million in workers’ compensation costs and costs related to lost productivity;
  • Generates more than $566 million in annual spending, $299 million in annual salaries and $30 million in state and local tax revenue; and
  • Supports nearly 7,000 jobs.

By 2035, the population of southeastern Pennsylvania is expected to grow by 393,000 people. Continuing at the current rate of land consumption, 167,000 acres of open space—an area more than half the size of Montgomery County—would be subject to development over this period.

The study, prepared by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Econsult Corporation and Keystone Conservation Trust, aims to provide elected leaders, policy makers and the general public a new perspective on the value of open space and help them make informed decisions about future development.

For more information, please contact Robert W. Gundlach, Jr. at 215.918.3636 or [email protected].