A Cost Benefit Analysis of Landscape Development at Occidental College.


Cyrus Grout

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I conducted a cost-benefit analysis of Occidental's Landscape Development Plan (1994) to test whether implementing the plan would be a financially responsible decision.The plan was prepared with the objective of reducing total costs of landscape maintenance and watering, primarily by changing the campus landscaping and irrigation systems. To estimate the costs and benefits of the proposed changes, I used a GIS model of the campus to estimate the square footage of turf, groundcover, shrubs, and vines that the plan proposed to be removed and added, and to reselect areas depending on the types of landscape changes dictated in the plan. I also used Excel? and data provided by Occidental Facilities Management to estimate costs. I compared the total cost of maintaining the campus landscape before and after the changes occurred to estimate the annual benefits of implementing the plan. I summed the total removal and addition costs to estimate the opportunity cost of implementing the plan. I found that if proposed changes were made today, the opportunity cost would be about $97,000, with annual benefits of about $13,000. Discounting these benefits using a rate of 8.26%, positive net benefits would be obtained after about 13 years. Changing turf to groundcover is the only change likely to have a payback period less than five years. Net benefits would be greatly increased if changes were made opportunistically, due removal and addition costs becoming sunk costs. Occidental would reap the most benefits by making the proposed changes opportunistically rather than actively.


J. Sadd



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