Why We (Still) Need To Change The Suburbs

The suburbs are massive urban design problem because they have a large footprint. The footprint is evident in the energy inefficiencies present in suburban design from sprawl to increased costs. To reduce the footprint and build more environmentally friendly neighbourhoods will cost a lot and some people are debating whether or not we should just give up on the suburbs.

The anti-retrofit movement is missing the bigger picture, in order to lessen the damage of sprawl on the planet we need to modify these sprawling neighbourhoods.

New Urbanism was launched a quarter century ago by a committed group of multidisciplinary professionals seeking to reverse the worst social, economic, and environmental impacts of sprawl. New urbanists, as a group, will never “let sprawl be sprawl.”

“Drivable suburban,” areas, otherwise known as sprawl, make up about 95 percent of the land in US metro areas (built, amazingly, in less than a century), according to research by Christopher Leinberger. The rest, about five percent, is “walkable urban” — historic neighborhoods and street grids.

Improving walkable urban areas and revitalizing run-down neighborhoods are critical projects for new urbanists, but we can’t leave the other 95 percent alone. It has too much impact on people’s health, social lives, and the economies of communities. The Charter of the New Urbanism speaks to the entire built environment—not just historic street grids.

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