Green stormwater infrastructure and neighborhood satisfaction: a comparison study on landscape familiarity, aesthetic appreciation, and feelings of safety


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Flooding and water quality are predominant issues in cities worldwide with combined sewer systems overflowing public bodies of water (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board 2005). While the direct, positive impact of green stormwater infrastructure on flooding and water quality has been widely documented, the preferences of residents on the characteristics of green stormwater infrastructure has been less explored. Understanding residents’ aesthetic appreciation and feeling of safety is important when gauging neighborhood satisfaction, which may indirectly influence their overall well-being (Hadavi & Kaplan 2016, Hur et al. 2009). This study aims to address these issues by examining residents’ neighborhood satisfaction as well as their aesthetic preferences concerning three different types of urban greening: unmaintained landscape, traditionally manicured landscape, and landscape designed for managing stormwater. A random sample of 95 participants from two different study areas with relatively similar demographic makeup in Kansas City, Missouri participated in a photo-survey featuring photos of existing landscape conditions in their neighborhoods. Participants are residents from the North Town Fork Creek neighborhood (n = 55) and the Marlborough Community Coalition (n = 40). North Town Fork Creek lacks green stormwater infrastructure, implying that residents have low exposure to this type of urban greening, while the Marlborough Community Coalition has green stormwater infrastructure currently in place. The survey includes visual images of the three types of existing urban greening which are linked to questions assessing neighborhood satisfaction and preferences regarding participants’ exposure to such types of urban greening. More specifically, participants were assessed on their familiarity and environmental awareness to these landscapes as well as their aesthetic acceptance and feelings of safety to characteristics associated with the design of green stormwater infrastructure: high biodiversity and the use of native plant species (Suppakittpaisarn et al. 2017). Results of the survey were assessed and compared between the two study areas. The findings showed that when residents are more familiar with, exposed to, and aware of the environmental benefits of green stormwater infrastructure, they tend to prefer high plant diversity and native plant species while also showing lower preference toward the low biodiversity and exotic plant species of traditionally-manicured landscapes. These findings were translated to planning and design solutions that are applied to both neighborhood study areas. While this study is a sample, the results offer important insights into how familiarity and environmental awareness to green stormwater infrastructure may influence residents’ aesthetic preferences and feelings of safety towards such landscapes and should be adapted into other neighborhoods around Kansas City and in other cities in the United States that struggle with flooding and water quality issues.



Green stormwater infrastructure, Neighborhood satisfaction, Familiarity, Environmental awareness, Preferences, Feelings of safety

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Master of Landscape Architecture


Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning

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Sara Hadavi