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Lindsay Greenwood

Just how much is a hospital green space worth?

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Nature Sacred
First of its kind calculator shows financial impact of nature spaces in mitigating burnout-related costs in hospitals


ANNAPOLIS, MD — In the midst of a quest for measures to address the epidemic of burnout among nurses and physicians, and at the same time, improve patient care, new evidence of the impact of hospital green spaces has emerged. A newly-published paper authored by Sean M. Murphy, PhD, health economist and Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, reports on the development of a first ever means to calculate the financial impact of usable on-campus green spaces.

The paper was published by Nature Sacred, an organization that supports the creation of contemplative green spaces, with funding support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“While the scientific evidence of nature’s influence on various aspects of health and wellbeing on an individual and community level is well-documented and growing, until now, no one had measured the implications in terms of dollars and cents,” Nature Sacred CEO Alden Stoner said. “This is something many C Suite health care executives have been asking for; now, we have an answer.”

“In short, we knew nature spaces had an outsized impact on individual and community health, now there is evidence that they have an outsized impact on improving the bottom line for healthcare campuses.”

A dynamic companion calculator built using the budget impact tool described in the paper is openly available for any hospital to use. It requires a few key inputs related to nurse and physician employment figures and an estimated budget (figure) for creating and maintaining a green space. The resulting calculation is an estimate of how much the hospital could potentially offset in burnout-related expenses. Two sample scenarios included in the paper illustrate the applicability of the calculator in both a small and large hospital setting.

According to Dr. Murphy, there were three areas where cost-offsets associated with a biophilic intervention would potentially be the greatest: in mitigating turnover, absences and errors among nurses and physicians.

“The science on the value of green spaces to physical and mental human health is clear,” said Jana Davis, president of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.  “This work is key in taking this science to the next step: Evaluating the economic implications of that health impact.  The analysis will encourage institutions to weave green spaces into their campus designs at great return on investment.”

Adam Ortiz, Regional Administrator for EPA Mid-Atlantic Region, too, recognizes the potential impact of the paper and calculator. “Now more than ever, we know just how valuable our hospital and healthcare workers are,” said Ortiz.  “Identifying ways to implement accessible green spaces for them is vital – to alleviate burnout and aiding in their own health and wellness as they continue to care for their patients.  This tool will have far-reaching benefits to the hospital community.”

About Nature Sacred

Nature Sacred exists to inspire, inform and guide communities in the creation of public green spaces—called Sacred Places—designed to improve mental health, unify communities and engender peace. For over 25 years, Nature Sacred has partnered with more than 100 communities across the country to infuse nearby nature into places where healing is often needed most: distressed urban neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, prisons and more. Through a collaborative, community-led process and an evidence-based design model, each Sacred Place is bonded together by a common goal: to reconnect people with nature in ways that foster mindful reflection, restore mental health and strengthen communities. As each community imagines its own space, the design becomes a unique reflection of the community’s culture, story and place—making it inherently sacred to them. Learn about our model, our approach and our Sacred Places: naturesacred.org

About the Chesapeake Bay Trust

The Chesapeake Bay Trust (www.cbtrust.org) envisions a restored and protected Chesapeake Bay watershed and other natural resources. We empower local community-based groups on the ground with the resources they need to take on a meaningful and measurable role in restoring forests, streams, rivers, bays, wildlife, and more in their own communities. Every year, the Trust empowers about 400 groups by providing grants and technical assistance to accomplish environmental education, community outreach, and local watershed restoration projects. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Chesapeake Bay license plate; donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form; donations made by hunters, fishers, and boaters in the Maryland online natural resource licensing systemdonations from individuals and corporations; and partnerships with private foundations and federal, state, and local governments. The Trust has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator for over two decades.  On average, 90% of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its restoration and education programs.

Over $1 Million Announced to Support Green Infrastructure Projects to Improve Communities in MD, PA, VA, and WV

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Borough of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania – The Chesapeake Bay Trust, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announce that $1,058,720 in funding has been awarded to 13 projects across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia as part of the Chesapeake Bay Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant Program. These awards help communities develop and implement plans that reduce stormwater runoff; increase the amount of green spaces in urban areas; improve the health of local rivers, streams, the Chesapeake Bay and the human populations within the communities; create “green jobs;” reduce energy use; and enhance livability in cities and communities.

“We congratulate all grantees for putting forth projects that will support clean water and strong neighborhoods,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “This program helps communities reinvigorate gray and green infrastructure projects that reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to local waters and the Chesapeake Bay, while improving their economy, quality of life and community beautification.”

This green infrastructure program is designed to facilitate and encourage communities implementing traditional “gray” infrastructure projects, such as repaving roads or reconfiguring intersections, to add green elements at little additional cost. These green elements then offer cost-effective savings on stormwater treatment, flooding abatement, and other community benefits.

“The projects announced today show the value of adding green stormwater elements when other infrastructure improvements are planned,” said Alana Hartman, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Potomac Basin Coordinator. “These projects, led by communities and local organizations, will serve as a model for the entire region while helping to protect, preserve and enhance the quality of our water resources in the South Branch of the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

The Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Initiative was started in 2011, led by water experts at EPA and then expanded into the program it is today. To date, 245 projects have received funding and $14.4 million has been invested into greening communities.

Greening local communities has been shown to have multiple human benefits, from savings on energy costs that hit the wallet via provision of shade to reduction of illnesses to reduction in crime.  Studies show that time spent outdoors in green spaces leads to improved mental health, reduced absenteeism in employees, improved heart health, and more.

“Green infrastructure projects are one of those rare win-win-win scenarios:  They improve communities in various ways, they improve human health, and they also benefit our waterways,” said Dr. Jana Davis, president of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “This program lets us take advantage of projects that communities want to do for themselves that just also happen to benefit the larger natural system way downstream.”

 

Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant Program Awardees

Borough of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania – $150,000
A project that will directly reduce stormwater runoff into the Conococheague Creek, reduce associated flooding in the immediate area, address bank stabilization, and implement green infrastructure components.  Major enhancements to the area include the reduction of Hood Street flooding; the installation of sub-surface infiltration beds to manage stormwater; the planting of pollinator gardens; and the removal of invasive species and planting native riparian buffers.

City Neighbors Foundation, Baltimore, Maryland – $148,883
A complete green renovation of the City Neighbors Charter parking lot, located in NE Baltimore City.  Installations include 1270 sq. ft. of micro-bioretention, 1679 sq. ft. of pervious paving, and a 105 sq. ft. rain garden, all of which will be open for exploration by students, their families, and the general public.

City of Romney, West Virginia – $118,555
A water filtration project to be located in Romney, West Virginia that will be funded through new program partner, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The project will retrofit a large parking lot and adjoining streets with water filtering bioswales.  Runoff will be filtered from 3.3 acres of drainage area, 0.85 acres of which is impervious.  The filtration system will address the issue of unfiltered runoff into a nearby stream which flows less than one mile into the South Branch of the Potomac River.

Druid Heights Community Development Corporation, Baltimore, Maryland – $29,998
An engineering design to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff going into the Jones Falls watershed and the Chesapeake Bay. The design will create a community-envisioned greening plan that will incorporate trees, bioswales, and other stormwater management facilities. The design will be created with the residents as part of their overall vision for the West Baltimore neighborhood.

James River Association, Petersburg, Virginia – $118,146
The implementation of a critical component of green and gray infrastructure for the Lakemont community which will better manage stormwater and improve local water quality. The proposed Nash Street Grassy Swale project represents a continued commitment to implement infrastructure improvements for Lakemont which will enhance existing conditions, reduce the volume of stormwater runoff, and treat water quality.

Joe’s Movement Emporium/World Arts Focus, Mount Rainier, Maryland – $150,000
The implementation of stormwater management practices at Joe’s arts center, as part of “Story of Water and Art.” Stormwater management features – green roof, vertical rain gardens, and green roof demonstration unit – will resolve flooding issues around the urban property, and be integrated with native plants, educational signage, a mural, and outdoor program space.

ShoreRivers, Preston, Maryland – $24,122
A design of conservation improvements to the James T. Wright Memorial Park, adding bioswales to alleviate overly-saturated conditions, tree canopy to beautify and cool community gathering areas, and conservation meadows to enhance the beauty of the park and increase pollinator habitat.

The Community Ecology Institute, Columbia, Maryland – $108,650
The implementation of the engineered plans associated with Atholton high school, which will provide highly visible demonstrations of best management practices, achieve health benefits for the Middle Patuxent Watershed, address chronic neighborhood stormwater flooding, and provide an outdoor education space for the school community.

Town of Emmitsburg, Maryland – $121,400
The installation of a forebay and micropool with pilot channels and wetland area within the existing dry extended detention pond footprint to provide water quality controls for the 7.96-acres of impervious area while also providing water quantity controls for the 22.22-acre drainage area without increasing discharge flow rates.

Town of Galena, Maryland – $30,000
An engineered design plan that identifies potential solutions to address stormwater runoff that causes localized flooding in the area of Division Street and a parking area behind a local grocery store and delicatessen. Along with using green infrastructure practices such as bioretention, green infrastructure will be utilized to help improve the flow of traffic in and through the area as well to screen adjoining properties.

Town of Glen Echo, Maryland – $28,271
The design of two stormwater remediation projects, a rain garden at Town Hall and a swale in the right of way, that will address town flooding issues.

Town of Millington, Maryland – $9,995
A concept plan to treat stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces, environmental restoration, and pervious parking enhancements, while improving public access and opportunities via a kayak launch and shoreline improvements to the properties owned by the Town along the Chester River.

Watershed Alliance of York, York and Lancaster Counties, Pennsylvania – $20,700
A two-part workshop and repeatable workshop template that will focus on the responsibilities of Homeowner Associations (HOAs) in York and Lancaster counties for their stormwater management infrastructure. One important deliverable will be a template that groups such as watershed organizations can use to easily plan and conduct this workshop/charrette in counties throughout the Bay watershed.

Montgomery County’s First ‘Litter Trap’ Installed in Anacostia River Tributary

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The Anacostia Riverkeeper, the Montgomery County Department of the Environment, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust announced the installation of the County’s first “litter trap” that will catch trash flowing down a stream or river. The trap will float in the Lockridge Drive Tributary and capture litter. Using the stream current, it will guide debris into the trap and prevent it from flowing downstream to the Anacostia River and into the Chesapeake Bay.

“Plastic bottles make up 60 percent of all the trash that is found floating on the Anacostia River, and while the best way to reduce trash in our waterways is not to litter at all, this litter trap is another way to make sure that we are not leaving environmentally harmful trash behind,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I want to thank the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Anacostia Riverkeeper, our partners in finding innovative ways to clean up our streams and creeks. We are proud to support funding for projects such as the litter trap and to work with these local groups committed to cleaning their communities. These programs provide jobs, create awareness, and build community support for protecting our environment.”

Anacostia Riverkeeper is working with the Montgomery County Conservation Corps for maintenance, monitoring and data collection as the litter is collected and sorted.

“Anacostia Riverkeeper is thrilled to celebrate the installation of this first Bandalong Litter Trap in Montgomery County, making a total of eight in the watershed,” said Riverkeeper Trey Sherard of Anacostia Riverkeeper. “Trash, especially plastic, is such an enormous problem in the Anacostia and worldwide that we hope this is the first of many trash traps coming to the County as we continue to partner with the Department of Environmental Protection, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Montgomery County Conservation Corps. What a wonderfully appropriate way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.”

This trash trap project was funded via the Montgomery County Watershed Restoration and Outreach Grant Program. It is a partnership between the County and the Chesapeake Bay Trust that funds public outreach and stewardship projects, community-based restoration water quality implementation projects and litter-reduction projects throughout the County. The grants are funded entirely through the Montgomery County Water Quality Protection Charge and are administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a regional grant-maker specializing in engaging nonprofit entities in restoration and outreach work.

“Our successful partnership with Montgomery County makes it possible to support diverse groups taking actions that both enrich their local communities and positively impact our natural resources,” said Jana Davis, president of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “Innovative grantee projects, such as the litter trap, help improve healthy streams and rivers for all to enjoy.”

Since January, over $560,000 in grant funding was awarded to 15 projects throughout Montgomery County and since the program’s inception in 2014, over $3.4 million has been awarded through the grant program.

Projects have included public outreach; stewardship and community-based restoration efforts such as planting native plants and trees, promoting, and implementing green infrastructure practices, community training programs, and removing impervious surfaces; and trash reduction in the Anacostia River Watershed through litter trap maintenance and monitoring.

Chesapeake Bay Trust Blog & News

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Outdoor Learning Network Initiative Welcomes Two New Networks

 

The Chesapeake Bay Trust, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is pleased to welcome Baltimore City Public Schools and the Southeastern Virginia Environmental Education (SEVEE) Consortium to the Outdoor Learning Network Initiative (OLNI).

OLNI is a capacity building opportunity designed to advance environmental literacy goals by establishing local networks comprised of school districts and organizations who are committed to partnering and working collectively to embed environmental education into school system curriculum long-term.  The Initiative provides training, technical assistance, and ongoing support from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Local Concepts, as well as direct funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and NOAA over a two-year period.

“Meaningful environmental education lays the foundation for future restoration and protection of our local natural resources, said Dr. Jana Davis, president of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.  “This program creates long-lasting networks and partnerships for the school system to ensure that environmental literacy is not just a focus but becomes an integral part of the curriculum as a whole.”

OLNI offers the training and support to establish a local environmental literacy leadership team, develop an environmental literacy plan for the school district, establish new partnerships, provide teacher professional development training, and design and implement a systemic Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience program.  Baltimore City Public Schools will partner with Baltimore City Recreation & Parks and Living Classrooms Foundation to build their collaborative network.  The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University will work with Hampton City Schools, Newport News Public Schools, Norfolk Public Schools, Portsmouth Public Schools, Suffolk Public Schools, Williamsburg City Public Schools, and to build the collaborative SEVEE network.

“The OLNI partnerships strive to ensure that every student in the district graduates with a comprehensive understanding of the environment, their community’s connections to it, and the responsibility we all share in protecting it,” said Tom Ackerman, Vice President for Education for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

It has been demonstrated in the Mid-Atlantic region that integrating environmental education programs into the curriculum has benefits for environmental literacy, academic achievement, and building an environmental stewardship ethic. Yet data of systemic environmental literacy programs in the region shows geographic gaps.  In 2015, the Chesapeake Bay Program working with the State Departments of Education developed an environmental literacy survey to assess school districts capacities and needs. The results of the survey showed the degree of support needed to advance the implementation of environmental education programming regionally.  As a result, OLNI was designed to address the identified gaps in high-need school districts on a regional scale.

“The education of all students should include a strong environmental component,” said Manager of Environmental Literacy and Partnerships for NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, Shannon Sprague.  “By filling the gaps and creating lasting programs with meaningful environmental experiences for our students, we ensure the future advancement of research and restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region.”

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