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City Planning and Sustainable Design

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 1 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
City Planning Sustainable Design

Sustainable design is such a major part of the concept of design that it is now often included in the planning and design process by urban and city planners, in their strategy for either designing a new city, or extending an existing one.

Architects are often brought into this process, as well as those responsible for urban infrastructure, such as roads and services.

In this melting pot of ideas and plans, someone with a vision for truly sustainable design and building concepts can have a significant impact upon the future of cities and urban spaces.

Some Examples of Sustainable Design Concepts Within City Planning

Some issues that city planners and urban designers need to bear in mind when designing, redesigning or extending a city, are:
  • microclimate issues (this is particularly relevant in desert environments, but must be considered elsewhere too)
  • weather factors, including wind and water flow
  • services access: how will gas, electricity, water be provided to urban housing units?
  • can energy be utilised from renewable sources, i.e. solar or wind power? If so, can the necessary devices be utilised within
  • individual housing units, or should a larger scale area be provided where larger equipment can be safely installed
  • green spaces in the midst of urban development, including planning laws that legislate for open space per amount of urban dwelling
  • the use and accessibility of natural light to give buildings adequate daylight
  • air pollution in built-up areas - a major issue now for all city planners, as scientists find links between air pollution and illness in cities
  • anthropogenic heat: energy we consume as humans - how is it absorbed, used and discarded through our buildings?
  • density of buildings versus urban sprawl : which is better for each particular city environment
  • conservation of existing buildings, and preservation or creation of sense of neighbourhood and community
  • the creation and development of community facilities, including work and leisure facilities, as well as good public transport
  • infrastructure, keeps travel issues to a minimum, and can lead to a long-term reduction in pollution and reduced private car use

How Green Spaces in the Midst of Cities Benefit Us

Green spaces in the midst of urban areas benefit us in 2 ways - firstly the social aspect, of places to relax, walk, perhaps play sport or exercise, and secondly the environmental aspect.

Green spaces, with a mixture of trees, grass, plants and other vegetation, can absorb some of the carbon produced in the local areas, acting as a sponge for pollution. Parks and gardens help to break the urban monotony of buildings, and they also have the effect of allowing air and light to flow more freely, which produces healthier humans as well as healthier buildings.

Water Use in Sustainable Cities

The ideal situation for water use in cities that aspire toward sustainability is that all grey water from buildings in localised areas can be reused. This would mean in practise that water from baths and showers and from kitchens could be fed through a filter and a storage tank, perhaps contained underground or stored in a buildings basement, could be used to water private or public garden areas, or even municipal parks.

With water access and regular droughts becoming the most important issue throughout the world, the most efficient use and reuse of water in urban environments needs to be correctly addressed as a urgent priority. This is for every citizen to address their water use, consumption of, and reuse, as well as planners and architects.

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