Green Infrastructure – Private Capital
This team introduced the region to performance-based public-private partnerships and environmental impact bonds. This new class of financing tools will pay for, maintain, and monitor large-scale, high-impact green infrastructure projects based on the environmental, social, and economic outcomes they generate. When the project began in 2015, public-private partnerships, environmental impact bonds, and large-scale green infrastructure were new concepts to many communities.
The original goal was to execute first-ever green infrastructure public-private partnership agreements (P3s) in two to four Great Lakes municipalities as a new approach to financing distributed green infrastructure. The P3s would be large (up to $50 million) and would enable cities to aggregate services and optimize performance, to make it economically feasible for governments and utilities to greatly expand green infrastructure throughout the Great Lakes region.
Over time, the team identified new opportunities to demonstrate other innovative financing models, specifically environmental impact bonds. By the project’s end, this team had established the first-of-its-kind community-based public-private partnership (CBP3) (financed at $20 million) in the greater Milwaukee region to construct, monitor, and maintain distributed green infrastructure; and the first-of-its-kind environmental impact bond (EIB) in the greater Buffalo area, established for the same purpose, and at $54 million the largest EIB in the country. Because of this project, green infrastructure will be constructed across thousands of acres, and neighborhoods will be transformed.
The team piloted new business models that have led to the largest investments in green infrastructure the Great Lakes region has ever had. As of December 2020, Milwaukee’s investment at $20 million was the largest single investment in green infrastructure in the entire basin. Buffalo’s $54 million bond issued in mid 2021 became the region’s largest green infrastructure investment.
The team’s work led to a second project to scale up what they had learned by establishing the Great Lakes Resiliency and Finance Cluster (https://glpf.org/funded-projects/great-lakes-resiliency-and-finance-cluster/). The cluster is a permanent network of professionals that will drive market-based green infrastructure financing and continue supporting Great Lakes communities into the future.