5 Eco-Friendly Principles of Smart Growth
Smart growth is a strategy for urban development that incorporates many eco-friendly practices. For example, it leaves some areas undeveloped, which preserves open space and important natural habitats, such as farmland and waterways. Open space protects air quality and prevents erosion, and it helps keep wind and heat under control. Here are five more eco-friendly principles for smart growth:
Conservation of resources
Smart Growth encourages flexible policies that make use of existing infrastructure to maximize the benefits from new developments. Fiscal policies that reward responsible use and encourage development to improve the services offered by older buildings are intended to encourage the use public infrastructure. Smart growth principles can be applied to all types of communities, even rural areas. Here are some examples of policies that promote Smart Growth. These are the most important principles for Smart Growth.
In urban areas, smart growth focuses on redevelopment of existing neighborhoods, rather than constructing new ones from scratch. Reusing old buildings saves money and uses less resources than new construction. Developers often work within city limits to maximize use of existing infrastructure. Developers can also use brownfields for new purposes, increasing the sense of place and community. Smart growth includes five principles: conservation of resources.
While many principles of smart development are universally applicable, local governments can challenge them. Infill and redevelopment in existing communities is more appealing than new greenfield development. Smart growth communities place emphasis on economic development, family income and public services while protecting nature and open spaces. And because compact communities are healthier, residents and visitors are more likely to take long walks and ride bicycles.
While smart growth advocates see it as a replacement to the 1960s environmental movement, critics claim that it obscures the fact markets still dominate human settlement patterns. They are accused of ignoring economic and political issues associated with not growing at all. Skeptics of all stripes accuse the advocates of ignoring market factors. The European Union released a strategy and policy for smart growth in a recent report.
Strengthening of local businesses
Creating a vibrant downtown business district is one of the most important elements of smart growth. This type growth helps to strengthen the local economy as well as contributes to social integration. This maximizes the utilization of existing infrastructure and previous public investments in established centers. Chesterfield Township in New Jersey, USA, is one example of a smart development initiative. This municipality transferred development rights from rural farmland, forest, to create the New Urbanism community Old York Village. The European Union has also released other smart growth policies, including a draft 2020 policy and a strategy to smart specialization.
Smart growth is about focusing on existing communities and neighborhoods rather than building new suburbs. Reusing older buildings (e.g. vacant or unoccupied buildings) is more energy-efficient than building new. Similarly, working within the city limits means that developers can use existing infrastructure to meet the needs of new residents. Repurposing brownfields is another example.
Creating vibrant neighborhoods
Developing a sense of place requires incorporating distinctive characteristics of context and community into design and development. These factors can be determined by geography and natural features, climate, history, and ecology. Smart Growth promotes physical activity by increasing pedestrian and bike access. In fact, a 2005 King County study found that those who lived in compact neighborhoods were 23% more likely to walk than those who did not.
Comprehensive planning fosters vibrant, diverse communities by maintaining open space, conserving natural resources, preserving historic sites, and improving transportation systems. It encourages sustainable development by directing development to existing communities, while maintaining the value of public and private investments. Smart growth principles need to be accepted and supported by the public and private sectors. It helps to make development decisions predictable and facilitates approvals. These are the 5 principles that underpin smart growth.