HomeResearch Finalists Announced: 2016 Excellence in GSI Awards


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Research Finalists


The Impact of GSI Installation on Surrounding Health and Safety

Impact GSI Health and SafetyThis study investigated the health and safety effects of urban green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects. The research team conducted a difference-in-differences analysis of the effects of GSI on health (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels) and safety (e.g., felonies, nuisance and property crimes, narcotics crimes) outcomes from 2000 to 2012 in Philadelphia. The team used mixed-effects regression models to compare differences in 52 sites pre- and post-GSI installment, and 186 randomly chosen, matched control sites.  Results show consistent and statistically significant reductions in narcotics possession (18%–27% less) within 16th-mile, 8th-mile, quarter-mile, and half-mile distances from the GSI sites.  Narcotics manufacture and burglaries were also significantly reduced at multiple scales.

This is the first longitudinal case-control study of the health and safety effects of green stormwater infrastructure projects to be published.  Health and safety and other social considerations should be included in future assessments of GSI programs, and subsequent research should continue to assess these impacts.

Lead Research Institution:
USDA Forest Service, Northern Field Station

Collaborating Research Institutions:
University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Research Team:
Michelle Kondo, Ph.D.
Charles Branas, Ph.D.
Jason Henning, Ph.D.
Sarah Low, MS

Study Area: Philadelphia


Elemental Concentrations in Urban GSI Soils

Elemental Concentrations - ResearchGSI is designed to capture stormwater for infiltration, detention, evapotranspiration, or reuse. Soils play a key role in stormwater interception at these facilities. Assessing whether contamination is occurring in GSI soils is important because urban stormwater drainage areas often accumulate elements of concern. Soil contamination could affect hydrologic and ecosystem functions. Maintenance workers and the public may also be exposed to GSI soils. The research team evaluated differences in elemental composition of GSI and non-GSI soils at 59 sites; the comparisons were corrected for the age of GSI facility, underlying soil type, street drainage, and surrounding land use. Concentrations of calcium and iodine were greater in GSI soils than in non-GSI soils, although these elements do not pose a significant human health risk. Elements of concern to human health, including cadmium, mercury, and lead, were either no different or were lower in GSI soils compared with non-GSI soils. However, mean values found across GSI sites were up to four times greater than soil cleanup objectives for residential use.

This is the first case-control study of elemental concentrations found in soils of urban green stormwater infrastructure projects. More studies investigating GSI soils and their role in pollutant transport should follow.

Lead Research Institution:
USDA Forest Service, Northern Field Station

Collaborating Research Institutions:
Drexel University, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
University of Pennsylvania, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Research Team:
Michelle Kondo, Ph.D.
Igor Burstyn, Ph.D.
Alain Plante, Ph.D.
Ragav Sharma, MPH
Yunwen Yang, Ph.D.

Study Area:


Green Infrastructure Life Cycle Assessment: A Bio-Infiltration Case Study

Life Cycle AssessmentWhile life cycle assessment (LCA) is an established technique for the analysis of environmental impacts of consumer products, LCA of infrastructure practices is a relatively undeveloped area of study. This case study is part of a first attempt to develop and test a LCA methodology specific to green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) practices. Results revealed previously unrecognized construction, operation, and decommissioning components that have significant influence on the environmental, economic, and social performance of the Villanova University bio-infiltration rain garden.

With an improved understanding of impact pathways, as identified in this case study, professionals could gain the ability to refine GSI designs to address a wider range of sustainability goals, beyond stormwater management, across the entire life cycle of a project. It is envisioned that future infrastructure project goals and associated regulatory guidelines will encompass this holistic and multidisciplinary approach. In this future, life cycle assessment is a powerful tool toward sustainable and restorative planning and design.
Lead Research Institution:
Villanova University, Department of Environmental Engineering

Collaborating Research Institutions:

Research Team:
Kevin Flynn, PE
Robert Traver, Ph.D., PE, D.WRE, F.EWRI, F.ASCE

Study Area: 
Philadelphia region


Winners will be announced at the Excellence in GSI Awards Ceremony on March 31st, after a poster reception honoring the finalists in each category. 

Click here to view Public Project, Private Project, and Early Adopter Finalists.
Leadership Finalists will be announced next week.



In just over 2 weeks, the leaders, innovators, and policy makers behind the region’s nationally-renowned green stormwater infrastructure industry will gather together to celebrate top projects, individuals, and research.

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2016 Excellence in GSI Awards Ceremony

Thursday March 31 2016, 6:00-9:00pm
WHYY Public Media Commons
150 North 6th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106





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