Return on Environment

Return on Environment Image

When thinking of the value of open space, the typical focus is on intrinsic value. Open space is often viewed simply as a popular amenity, but it is so much more. Montgomery County’s new report, Return on Environment: The Economic Impact of Protected Open Space in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, proves that open space is good business. The study demonstrates how protected open space—public parks and trails, preserved farmland, and private conserved lands—provides tremendous economic value in terms of savings, earnings, and avoided costs to the tune of millions of dollars each and every year. It is a significant component in creating a sustainable future for the county and its communities.

This eye-opening study was developed by the Montgomery County Planning Commission (MCPC), working in partnership with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), consultant Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI), and a dedicated 32-member Advisory Committee. The consultant relied on various data to measure how protected open space throughout the county impacts home and property values, economic activity, environmental services, and direct use benefits relating to health and recreation. The study was funded jointly by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR) and Montgomery County.

Return on Environment: The Economic Impact of Protected Open Space in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania


The study was initiated as a county-focused update to the 2011 Return on Environment, developed by Greenspace Alliance and DVRPC to assess the economic benefits of protected open space in Southeastern Pennsylvania (covering Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties). Given that this regional report was ten years old and the data used for the report was even older, Montgomery County endeavored to develop a study with updated data focused entirely on Montgomery County. MCPC is looking for this study to motivate county leaders, local decision makers, citizens, and stakeholders to take action that supports and advances open space conservation in all Montgomery County communities. The benefits are there to be reaped.

Events and Presentations

  • Sierra Club Southeastern PA Group, September 29, 2022 Virtual Webinar Presentation  Preserving Open Space – Status and Potential  by representatives from Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware Counties.
  • Montgomery County Association of Township Officials (MCATO) Fall Convention, October 12, 2022. In-person educational session held on the Return on Environment Study.
  • MCPC Planning Smarter Event Investing in Open Space: Montco’s Return on Environment Study, October 25, 2022.
  • In-person and virtual event held online and at new Challenger Learning Center in Pottstown. More details here

In The News

For more information, contact William R. Hartman, MCPC Trails and Open Space Planning Manager, at 610-278-3746.