Braden, John

Braden, John
University of Illinois

I teach and conduct research mainly on environmental economics and environmental policy.  One focus is the environmental condition of the North American Great Lakes.  The lakes contain 20 percent of the freshwater on earth.  Seen from space, they arguably are the most spectacular environmental asset on the North American continent.  However, legacy toxic sites are scattered along the coasts.  My group has found that decontaminating those hotspots can produce significant economic benefits through real estate markets.  For example, cleaning up Waukegan Harbor, north of Chicago, the Sheboygan River in Eastern Wisconsin, and the Buffalo River in Western New York appears likely to add between 6 and 15 percent to residential property values within five miles of the contaminated sites.  Increases in property values would boost local wealth and tax revenues by millions of dollars, offsetting the costs of clean up.  The work on the Great Lakes has been supported by USEPA, Sea Grant, USDA, and the University of Illinois.

I also work on sustainable urban development.  Many technologies are available to reduce the environmental footprint of urbanization, but adoption has been slow.  Meanwhile, conventional development principles continue to impose costs on water and air quality, hydrology, and congestion.  I'm interested in ways that building codes, approval processes for development, industry standards, financing, and insurance markets influence the adoption process.  This work has been supported by USEPA and the UI and served as the basis of input to proposed to regulatory standards for construction site pollution.

A third interest is environmentally-differentiated products.  Colleagues and I are developing models that will support analysis of trade-offs between carbon and nutrient emissions as biofuels grow in importance.  This work is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Energy Biosciences Institute, and the University of Illinois.

Since joining the University of Illinois in 1979, I have taught courses in environmental economics, natural resource economics, program evaluation, operations research, research methods, and personal finance.  I also co-founded the program for Environmental and Resource Economics (pERE) (see the link at left), directed both the undergraduate and graduate programs in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and served as Director of the Illinois Water Resources Center, Director of the Environmental Council, and Associate Provost.  My curriculum vita and publication list provide details.