Sustainable Urban Design

Urban planning, design and development processes are central to sustainability, and many jurisdictions around the globe have begun the challenge of reforming these so as to produce more sustainable urban development. The range of existing or potential urban actions is vast.

The priorities include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to global warming, greening the city, promoting biking and walking, improving social equity and developing green economies. The best strategies in any given place depend on the context, but there is substantial agreement on many basic approaches, and many of these are now embraced by mainstream organisations such as the American Planning Association and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

The main point I’d like to develop in this brief introductory essay is that the sustainable development of cities and towns is not a question of technocratically applying a given set of strategies, but of developing more creative, ecological and proactive ways of addressing urban problems.

Sustainability requires a different mindset than those that created the problems in the first place, to paraphrase Einstein. Such paradigm change is very difficult, and requires a process of social evolution, within which institutions, economics, technologies and social environments change so as to reinforce different behaviours and outlooks within individuals.

From “Sustainable Urban Development”


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