By Ariana Nieves,
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) defines green spaces as “land that is partly or completely covered with trees, shrubs, grass, or other vegetation.” Examples include urban parks, trails, community gardens, rooftop gardens, and vertical gardens. Spaces such as these are increasing in demand for their outstanding advantages. Green spaces provide social, environmental, and economic benefits to the community. They are beautiful to look at and are incredibly functional as well.
Green spaces positively impact mental health. They provide residents with an opportunity to stay active and increase interactions with nature. Some studies have found that interacting with nature can support healthy behavior and brain function; this results from the stimuli nature offers. It creates a revitalizing environment that relieves attention fatigue found in day-to-day life. Further research states that people who spend as little as two hours in nature a week account for higher levels of wellbeing.
Additionally, green spaces provide an area to interact with others. Conversations, relationships, and friendships curate as people mingle and socialize. Providing a space for social interaction within the community is proving to be quite crucial, especially for cities. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people became restless during quarantine. Thus, revealing the importance of these areas.
Many people yearned to be in nature once more when they were not allowed to do so. Once lockdown restrictions became more flexible green spaces provided safe meeting places for loved ones. Green spaces are becoming an integral part of the community. People view them as necessities rather than amenities now.
Environmental and Economic Benefits
Green spaces also provide environmental benefits. These areas are dense with varieties of vegetation and reside in urban locations. Having these high plant-filled sites helps to offset heat island effects found in cities. Flora aids in reducing surface and air temperatures to cool the community. Also, the foliage assists in purifying the air of pollutants.
Approximately 80% of the U.S population resides in cities, so green spaces are currently in high demand. Adding these areas into any project or neighborhood can increase property value immensely and improve residents’ quality of life. Green spaces boost the local economy by bringing value to the property and attracting more potential residents.
LEED Credits Available
Not only are green spaces great for the community, but they are also eligible for LEED credit. It is possible to obtain up to two points in this category. The green space must be easily accessible for community members. A minimum of 70% of dwelling units need to acquire green spaces within a ½ mile walking distance.
The number of points delegated depends on the provided square feet per person; 121 square feet per person awards one point; 145 square feet per person awards two points. It is also critical to note schoolyards, playgrounds, public seating areas, public plazas, and vacant lots are not green spaces.
Overall, green spaces are a great addition to any project. They help improve the community through social, environmental, and economic benefits, as well as helping to achieve a higher LEED certification level. Now is a perfect time to consider perusing green spaces as they provide many opportunities and will continue to grow in high demand.
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