Municipal economic growth through green projects and policies

Lindner, Harry Dreyfus
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Cities generally need economic growth. Green policies and projects are environmentally beneficial, desirable, expected by the public, and pragmatic in the long term. However, there is insufficient research on what, if any, municipal green projects and policies generate economic growth. To address this question, the author created a database of green and economic indicators, and modeled the green indicators to predict the economic indicators. The database included carbon usage, transportation metrics, water usage, the number of green jobs, and the gross domestic product (GDP) for the 100 largest cities, defined by metropolitan statistical area (MSA), in the U.S. To gather data on green indicators, existing green rankings, indices, and reports were evaluated for methodology and usability for this paper. The results of the data-gathering step show the need for more and better data collection. That means an increased number of green indicators should be collected, and data should be collected at the MSA (or county) level for more of the largest cities. Specifically to name some green indicators, data collection on energy usage, buildings, waste, land use, air quality, and food could be improved. Those green indicators would likely be included in a model that uses green indicators to predict green jobs or GDP. However, those were not included for the regressions in this paper. The results of the regressions in this paper show two indicators with promise for predicting economic growth as defined by GDP and number of green jobs: (1) percent of people using public transportation, biking, or walking to work, and (2) public water consumption per person. The first explanatory variable indirectly measures the adoption of policies that promote public transportation, biking, and walking. The results suggest that these policies have a positive effect on GDP and number of green jobs. This means the results suggest that as the percent increases, so does GDP and number of green jobs. The second explanatory variable measures the water conservation policies. The results suggest this variable has a negative, albeit weaker relationship with GDP per person. This means the results suggest as water conservation increases (less water usage per person), the GDP per person increases. This paper offers a methodology and some of the groundwork for building a model to show which, if any, municipal green projects and policies predict economic growth.