Modeling the Influence of Public Risk Perceptions on the Adoption of Green Stormwater Infrastructure: An Application of Bayesian Belief Networks Versus Logistic Regressions on A Statewide Survey of Households in Vermont
There is growing environmental psychology and behavior literature with mixed empirical evidence about the influence of public risk perceptions on the adoption of environmentally friendly "green behaviors". Adoption of stormwater green infrastructure on residential properties, while costlier in the short term compared to conventional greywater infrastructure, plays an important role in the reduction of nutrient loading from non-point sources into freshwater rivers and lakes. In this study, we
... n this study, we use Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs) to analyze a 2015 survey dataset (sample size = 472 respondents) about the adoption of green infrastructure (GSI) in Vermont's residential areas, most of which are located in either the Lake Champlain Basin or Connecticut River Basin. Eight categories of GSI were investigated: roof diversion, permeable pavement, infiltration trenches, green roofs, rain gardens, constructed wetlands, tree boxes, and others. Using both unsupervised and supervised machine learning algorithms, we used Bayesian Belief Networks to quantify the influence of public risk perceptions on GSI adoption while accounting for a range of demographic and spatial variables. We also compare the effectiveness of the Bayesian Belief Network approach and logistic regression in predicting the pro-environmental behaviors (adoption of GSI). The results show that influencing factors for current adoption differ by the type of GSI. Increased perception of risk from stormwater issues is associated with the adoption of rain gardens and infiltration trenches. Runoff issues are more likely to be considered the governments' (town, state, and federal agencies) responsibility, whereas lawn erosion is more likely to be considered the residents' responsibility. When using the same set of variables to predict pro-environmental behaviors (adoption of GSI), the BBN approach produces more accurate predictions compared to logistic regression. The results provide insights for further research on how to encourage residents to take measures for mitigating stormwater issues and stormwater management.