Yet Another Urban Blog

Toward an Efficient and Sustainable Urbanism

A guest post by Ray McNeal.

In the coming years, the urban population is expected to increase by over 274,000 people every day, and cities across the world need to work diligently to adopt a more sustainable layout capable of supporting this urban growth. Together, urban planners and developers are working to sustain an ever-growing population on limited resources.

Take for example Stockholm and New York City which face similar growth and resource predicaments. Järva, a modernist extension of Stockholm is trying to build a sustainable city to support a growing population, as part of the city’s efforts to regenerate the city’s housing market. Järva is working towards a fifty-percent reduction in energy consumption. “It’s never enough to create a technically ideal structure if it doesn’t meet aesthetic, creative and social needs,” says Swiss architect Bob Gysin. Järva, with its own wind turbine, solar cells and panels attached to the facades and roofs of buildings, and innovative insulation methods is providing not only an answer to updating decades-old buildings, but also improving the sustainability of the city overall.

New York City is currently in the midst of and affordable housing crisis, and real estate developers have increased the production of housing units by 22 percent in some areas. Upcoming NYC development projects must meet housing needs, while also minimizing the negative impact on the environment. One real estate developer Rob Speyer, of Tishman Speyer, has addressed some of these concerns at a recent Urban Land Institute conference. Speyer discussed the need to take a holistic approach to real estate development that considers how the surrounding space impacts the environment, in addition to the building design itself. Speyer compared a dated NYC apartment complex to a LEED certified house in the desert – asking conference attendees to consider which development is more sustainable. While the desert residence may seem like the obvious answer, Speyer explained how the isolated desert home required its owners to drive long distances to connect with other people and services. The apartment complex, on the other hand, situated in close proximity to necessary amenities, removes the need for residents to have a car, reducing harmful emissions.

Urban planners are currently faced with an immense challenge to support a population growing at a faster rate than ever, while simultaneously minimizing the impact on the environment. To be successful, planners must take a holistic approach, including “green” energy features within new developments while also considering how the development will be able to connect with the surrounding environment.

Ray McNeal spent the majority of his career in the real estate industry. Throughout his career, he became fascinated with the concept of sustainable development. He is currently a blogger whose focus is the benefits of sustainable development in today’s cities.