In collaboration with developer clients, GGLO has created a new communications tool for promoting sustainable development planning called an Environmental Benefits Statement (EBS). This work was motivated by the desire to broaden the perspective of the Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) that are required for large-scale development projects. While the intent of an EIS is to prove that a project will not cause unmitigated harm, the purpose of an EBS is to highlight the benefits of a project, holistically addressing economic, social, and environmental issues at a range of scales.

GGLO's client is exploring mixed-use residential development opportunities on multiple properties located within a five minute walk from a planned light rail station. Bringing new people and jobs to the neighborhood is a key strategy for creating local and regional sustainability, and thereby maximizing return on public investment in transit. However, current zoning places a suboptimal limit on the number of new jobs and households with walkable access to the future high-capacity transit station.

The EBS presents a concise summary of the potential benefits of an appropriate intensity of redevelopment in the study area, in order to advocate for policy measures that would enable smarter, more sustainable development to occur. The end goal is to foster the creation of a livable, equitable, and vibrant neighborhood center that enhances sustainability both locally and regionally.

Report Authors
Roosevelt EBS: Dan Bertolet, Dave Cutler, and the Roosevelt Development Group
South Lake Union EBS: Dan Bertolet

Further Information
Request a copy of the Roosevelt Development Group EBS and the South Lake Union Property Owners Group EBS.

What is an Environmental Benefits Statement?
The purpose of an Environmental Benefits Statement (EBS) is to articulate the wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits that can be provided by thoughtful development. In particular, an EBS is intended to supplement the information that is supplied by an
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and thereby help bring breadth and balance to the public debate.

Development is often controversial, simply because it represents change. And that controversy can sometimes overshadow the benefits associated with well-designed development. Furthermore, large-scale development projects usually require an EIS, a document that tends to frame the public debate in terms of the potential negative impacts.

An EBS helps balance the discussion by focusing on the positive. The economic, social, and environmental benefits that responsible development can provide tend to be relatively abstract, and therefore more challenging for residents and other stakeholders to understand and appreciate. An EBS elucidates these benefits, and holistically focuses appropriate attention on all there is to be gained—at the neighborhood, city-wide, and regional scales.


Future Work
There is a wide range of project types, scales, and contexts for which an EBS could be an appropriate tool to gain stakeholder and public support. GGLO believes that an EBS is a powerful new approach to understanding opportunities for smart change and for promoting sustainable development, and we encourage interested parties to contact us and learn how an EBS could contribute to the success of your future project.