Green Buffers Provide Stormwater and Air Benefits near Industries but Are Rarely Highlighted to Decision-Makers

Buffers provided by industries will support enhanced decision-making and alternate solutions.

Full Buffer

Researchers analyzed three buffer types, including this “Full Buffer” with a neighborhood removed before major industrial expansion.

[Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) from Haselbach, L., et al. "Green Buffers Near Industrial Plants, Examples in Jefferson County TX." Spatial Information Research (2024). DOI:10.1007/s41324-024-00580-2.]

The Science

Green buffers between industry and neighborhoods may mitigate air pollution and flooding while providing other safety benefits. While researchers may be aware of the possible benefits of vegetated buffers in reducing air pollution and other impacts, little information exists on how public perception of air pollution and its control might include vegetated buffers.

The Impact

Knowledge gaps include: (1) research on vegetation species and the various air pollutants they mitigate, (2) how decision-makers and communities may be informed about vegetated buffer benefits, and (3) industry’s current use of vegetated buffers. A team of researchers sought to answer the third knowledge gap in a highly industrialized area.

Summary

The team used geospatial and property data from 1966 and 2020 to analyze the development of three different buffer types and proposed a method for informing ground-level concentration benefits. The “partial buffer” example of residential properties purchased by industry, with stormwater and air quality benefits or offices and parking, provided >100,000 square feet of additional vegetation. The “full buffer” example was a residential neighborhood removed before industrial expansion with stormwater and air quality benefits and a butterfly garden. Removing the neighborhood decreased the potential for ground-level emission exposure for residences based on the classic “plume equation.” The “forested buffer” was a former tank field that provided phytoremediation and air and stormwater benefits.

Principal Investigator

Liv Haselbach
Lamar University
[email protected]

Program Manager

Sally McFarlane
U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Urban Integrated Field Laboratories
[email protected]

Bob Vallario
U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Urban Integrated Field Laboratories
[email protected]

Funding

This material is based upon work supported by the Biological and Environmental Research program within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science under Award Number DE-SC0023216.

References

Haselbach, L., et al. "Green Buffers near Industrial Plants, Examples in Jefferson County TX." Spatial Information Research (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41324-024-00580-2.