By now, you probably get the idea that our planet's resources are finite, but many people are beginning to catch on to the fact that our need to design, plan and build communities that are "smart" and conserve our limited natural resources, while creating a strong sense of community is imperative. On the financial side of the coin, developers, architects, builders and real estate agents are seeing great investment potential in smart growth, even in a slowed up economy.
So what is Smart Growth?
Smart growth as defined by experts at CT Smart Growth:
Mixed land use: "Our post World War II land use decisions have separated and compartmentalized the various aspects our lives. We live in one place, work in another, and venture to still another place for shopping and entertainment. This separation has created a car-centric society and taken away from the vitality of the traditional town center or Main Street. Smart growth supports the integration of mixed land uses into communities as a critical component of achieving better places to live. By putting uses in close proximity to one another, alternatives to driving, such as walking or biking, once again become viable."
Compact Building Design: "Compact building design suggests that communities be designed in a way which permits more open space to preserved, and that buildings can be constructed which make more efficient use of land and resources. By encouraging buildings to grow vertically rather than horizontally, and by incorporating structured rather than surface parking, for example, communities can reduce the footprint of new construction, and preserve more greenspace."
Housing Opportunities: "Providing quality housing for people of all income levels is an integral component in any smart growth strategy. Housing is a critical part of the way communities grow, as it is constitutes a significant share of new construction and development. More importantly, however, is also a key factor in determining households' access to transportation, commuting patterns, access to services and education, and consumption of energy and other natural resources."
Walkable Communities: "As the personal and societal benefits of pedestrian friendly communities are realized - benefits which include lower transportation costs, greater social interaction, improved personal and environmental health, and expanded consumer choice -- many are calling upon the public and private sector to facilitate the development of walkable places."
Other elements include: Strong Sense of Place, Preserve Open Spaces, Infill Development, Wide array of Transportation Choices, Fair and Predictable Development Decisions, and Community Collaboration. To find out more about the other 6 elements of smart growth, as well as valuable resources, visit CT Smart Growth. Also, check out this incredible Smart Growth project slated for Georgetown.