Co-Benefits & Tradeoffs


There are infrastructure trade-offs, as well as synergies, between environment, health, wellbeing and livability outcomes. In many instances, these infrastructure synergies and trade-offs have not yet been fully assessed.

Examples of tradeoffs, for example with green infrastructure installations, include considering the health benefit potentials of expanding green infrastructure including reductions in air pollution, as well as social well-being and community development, versus greater habitat for some disease vectors. In the same way, green infrastructure may generate livability benefits in a given area offering greater resilience in terms of extreme storm and heat events, as well as economic renewal and neighborhood beautification, which may give rise to potential gentrification and related social justice tradeoffs.

Patterns of tradeoffs and synergies can vary widely across different city and policy regime types. These differences often arise out of particular spatial features that are specific to a given city type or path dependencies particular to a specific policy regime type. The network’s work in this area seeks to capture linkages, synergies, and trade-offs, considering human environment interactions with all seven infrastructure sectors together. The network is also conducting work to understand approaches to messaging for various audiences based on multiple co-benefits, including perceived social benefits, perceptions of individual health risks and benefits, as well as economic cost-benefits.


City-level Action to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Food Systems

  • May 2018
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Dana Boyer and Anu Ramaswami

How do city-level actions related to food production, consumption, and food waste management affect the greenhouse gas (GHG), water and land impacts of the larger food system? Footprints of urban … Read more

The Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization (International Resource Panel report with Sustainable Healthy Cities contributing authors)

  • February 2018
  • Report
  • Author: Multiple

Over the next 30 years, an additional 2.4 billion people are likely to be added to the global urban population. This increase in population will result in a significant expansion … Read more

Local Health Co-Benefits of Urban Climate Action

  • February 2018
  • Podcast
  • Author: Anu Ramaswami

Reducing carbon emissions across multiple urban infrastructure sectors can yield significant local air pollution related health co-benefits. But cities will see and experience these co-benefits in different ways and to … Read more

Evaluating Urban Food Systems

  • February 2018
  • Video
  • Author: Dana Boyer

It is projected that about two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Making sure that cities can handle the influx of people means considering more … Read more

What Is the Contribution of City-Scale Actions to the Overall Food System’s Environmental Impacts?: Assessing Water, Greenhouse Gas, and Land Impacts of Future Urban Food Scenarios

  • September 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Boyer, D., & Ramaswami, A. (2017). “What Is the Contribution of City-Scale Actions to the Overall Food System’s Environmental Impacts?: Assessing Water, Greenhouse Gas, and Land Impacts of Future Urban … Read more

Hotspot Analysis and Strategic Siting of Green Infrastructure to Maximize Ecosystem Service Provision

  • March 2017
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Sara Meerow and Josh Newell

Ecosystem services are the social and ecological benefits that are provided to humans by the natural environment. Where should cities strategically locate green infrastructure (GI) to address the needs of … Read more

Spatial planning for multifunctional green infrastructure: Growing resilience in Detroit

  • March 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Meerow, S., & Newell, J. P. (2017). “Spatial planning for multifunctional green infrastructure: Growing resilience in Detroit”. Landscape and Urban Planning, 159, 62-75. ABSTRACT: Cities are expanding green infrastructure to enhance resilience and … Read more

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