Natural Infrastructure Project Evaluation Processes: Past, Present and Future Evaluation Metrics

A collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering With Nature Initiative, as part of the Network for Engineering With Nature.

Summary

This project will describe the evaluation methods for the benefits of natural infrastructure projects conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers® (USACE), and will discuss how those methods may evolve through time. It will also assess the processes used by other public and private entities who develop natural infrastructure projects in the United States and abroad, as well as the state of academic knowledge of these processes and potential innovations. Finally, this project will produce a library describing the value metrics that will affect project evaluation, with methods to assess their measure.

Approach

We will review relevant academic literature in economics, environmental sciences and social sciences, as well as primary documents, statutes, regulations, legal cases and interpretation or published commentaries. In addition, the project team will consult with practitioners who utilize valuation methods both within the Army Corps of Engineers® and other agencies, through individual interviews and workshop series that allows researchers and practitioners to meet and discuss relevant practices.

Deliverables

This project will produce an assessment of the development and evolution of the Army Corps of Engineers®’ practices for valuing project benefits, an assessment of practices used by United States and international entities engaged in similar infrastructure development. We will also produce a review of current academic knowledge on the use of different and
innovative valuation practices. The result of all of these assessments will ultimately be to provide a values library, which will be a database of relevant values related to the NI project assessment and means of using those metrics. Finally, we will also provide a series of recommendations for improving current USACE practices, and additional research questions
that can improve the state of knowledge for valuing NI benefits.

Lead Researcher

Scott Pippin, Carl Vinson Institute of Government, jspippin@uga.edu