Urban Planning and Sustainability
As urban areas become more and more populated, the need for sustainable cities becomes increasingly urgent. Urban planning is a key way that cities can reduce their environmental footprints and become more resilient in the face of climate change.
One such strategy is the High Line experiment, which transformed a rundown elevated railroad into a park. But there are other, more comprehensive ways to make cities greener.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The goal of environmental urban planning is to cultivate a city that’s environmentally responsible and sustainable. This type of planning focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, prioritizing services for those in need, and conserving natural ecosystems and resources.
Whether it’s planting trees or encouraging public transport use, environmental urban planning can decrease the amount of carbon dioxide produced by cities. Additionally, it can reduce air pollution and congestion by limiting the number of cars on the road. It can also make it easier for people to travel by train or bus, and it can encourage e-vehicles to replace traditional vehicles in the future.
To achieve this, urban planners must ensure a high quality of life for residents by ensuring that there’s enough access to services and points of interest. This can be done by determining required zoning, infrastructure, and more. In order to do this, they must consult with government agencies and landowners, and they must gather important information about the area.
In many cities, towns, and counties across the country, land development regulations are regulated by a fragmented set of laws. These include zoning ordinances, public works manuals, subdivision regulations and other land use guidelines. Form-based codes are an approach that turns these regulations on their head.
They start by determining what kind of physical place the community wants, and then draft a set of regulations that will produce that end result. These regulate the size and shape of buildings, streets, sidewalks, and other public spaces.
They are typically developed through public design charrettes, which ensure that the code is representative of the specific community’s vision and the goals it seeks to achieve. They also tend to be prescriptive and offer clear, understandable illustrations. As such, they are firm and predictable about basic urban form but flexible on building uses, density, and design. This allows for a diverse array of new construction, and results in aesthetically interesting neighborhoods.
Repurposing Abandoned Sites
The widespread shift to online shopping has triggered a retail apocalypse, leaving dead malls and vacant storefronts haunting cities and towns. This is where adaptive reuse comes in. It recycles a building’s spaces and infrastructure, preserving resources that would be wasted in demolition and new construction. It also allows a premium location to be utilized, resulting in a lower carbon footprint than new construction.
Adaptive reuse has been used to create new housing opportunities, revitalize neighborhoods and reimagine historic architecture. It has even been applied to abandoned and contaminated “brownfield” sites, turning them into community centers that support the arts and education.
As a result, graduates of Western’s Geography – Urban Planning and Sustainability program have ample career opportunities. They are sought after for positions in zoning departments, real estate development firms, architectural and environmental consulting companies, community-based non-profit organizations and more. Using open and transparent decision-making tools, such as ClearPoint’s robust reporting functionality, is a fundamental aspect of land-use planning.
Resourceful Urban Water Management
Urban water management requires a more integrated approach in order to minimize the impact of environmental and social impacts. This includes managing waste and energy production (e.g. through hydropower or anaerobic digestion), reducing the occurrence of local flooding, improving water quality and fostering biodiversity in urban ecosystems.
The current paradigm of centralized and infrastructure-intensive systems must be transformed to more resourceful approaches that are closer to sustainability. These must be integrated into the city’s overall development plan and into the planning process itself.
Spatial planning can play a significant role in this regard by supporting the achievement of climate change adaptation goals in urban water supply management through both demand management and supply focused mechanisms. The examples shown in Table 3 illustrate some of the ways that this could be achieved. More research in this area is needed.