stated, and more so than any other issue, it is important to get this one right.

Toward Sustainable Communities

John Randolph, professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), gave his vision of a sustainable community, explained its importance, and discussed potential pathways toward sustainability. He noted that a sustainable community is foremost livable, accessible, and affordable, with a stable economy, healthy ecosystems, and an engaged public. Air quality, the efficient use of resources, and reduction of carbon emissions have become strong indicators of a region’s movement toward sustainability. He explained that a sustainable community is also resilient, in that the community has the ability to adapt and change, in response to changes in the local environment and economy; economic resiliency is an important aspect of a sustainable community. Dr. Randolph described five “Ds” that relate to smart growth and mobility: density, diversity, design, destination accessibility, and distance to transit.

Five D’s to Smart Growth and Mobility:

  • Density: population and employment per acre
  • Diversity: mixed use residential and commercial/jobs
  • Design: aesthetics, sidewalks, and street connectivity
  • Destination Accessibility: ease of trip from point of origin
  • Distance to Transit: ¼ to ½ mile from home or work

John Randolph, Virginia Tech,
January 18, 2012

Smart growth, he noted, is the type of growth needed in urban areas. To prevent urban sprawl, density needs to be built up in places to relieve pressure on outside areas. Diversity is key, with mixed-use development needed not only in terms of commercial and residential properties, but also in terms of income diversity. Compact, mixed use, and walkable places that are accessible in terms of distance from transportation are needed.

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