Planning for Sustainability: Creating Livable, Equitable, and Ecological Communities

Planning for Sustainability: Creating Livable, Equitable, and Ecological Communities

Planning for Sustainability: Creating Livable, Equitable, and Ecological Communities

Planning for Sustainability: Creating Livable, Equitable, and Ecological Communities

Synopsis

Existing patterns of urbanization are unsustainable in the long run. Current development practices consume enormous amounts of land and resources, damage local ecosystems, produce pollutants, create huge inequalities between groups of people, and undermine local community and quality of life. Unfortunately planning has itself led to many unsustainable development practices. Planning for Sustainability presents a straightforward, systematic analysis of how more sustainable cities and towns can be brought about. It does so in a highly readable manner that considers in turn each scale of planning: international, national, regional, municipal, neighbourhood, site and building. In the process it illustrates how sustainability initiatives at these different levels interrelate and how an overall framework can be developed for more liveable communities.

Excerpt

The past century has seen the rise of an urban and suburban landscape that is profoundly different from anything created before. From the office parks, malls, freeways, residential tracts, and abandoned inner cities of many affluent nations to enormous Third World megacities, human communities have taken on dramatically new forms and characteristics. Cities that once occupied a few square miles now cover thousands; populations that once walked most places are now utterly dependent on the automobile. Although recent patterns of urbanization have brought many benefits, they have also created enormous problems and are unsustainable in that they cannot be continued in the same ways in the long run. Today's development practices - both economic and physical forms of development - consume enormous amounts of land and natural resources, damage ecosystems, produce a wide variety of pollutants and toxic chemicals, create ever-growing inequities between groups of people, fuel global warming, and undermine local community, economies, and quality of life. Since the changes are incremental, it is hard to appreciate how rapidly our world is being transformed and how fundamentally these processes affect our lives and the choices available to us.

One of the main challenges of the twenty-first century will be to bring about more sustainable human communities. The broad and diverse field that has come to be known as planning can play a central role in meeting this goal, in that it deals with the nuts-and-bolts of how communities, regions, and nations are built and run, including how they relate to natural ecosystems. Since the origins of formal urban and regional planning activities about 100 years ago, results have been decidedly mixed. Much good has been done in terms of improving human welfare, but unfortunately planners themselves have led many unsustainable development practices. They have issued the building permits for suburban sprawl, programmed the monies for ever-expanding freeway systems, set up urban renewal programs that at times have bulldozed vibrant neighborhoods, assisted with the rise of an economy run by global corporations, and most important, failed to be as creative as they might at developing alternative visions. Planning can do better. It can and should reorient itself in the twenty-first century to focus on the challenge of creating more sustainable communities. This role will acknowledge existing politics and traditions but seek every opportunity to bring about creative change. Though it will not be easy, such sustainability planning can be an exhilarating and meaningful path for new generations of planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, political leaders, progressive developers, and community activists.

The purpose of this book is to provide a systematic background to the subject of sustainability planning as it cuts across many different specialties and scales. The following chapters examine how the sustainability concept has developed and assumed center stage in global debates, its general implications for planning, how it relates to planning theory, how it relates to a range of specific issues and planning tools, and then how it might

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