Sustainable Urban Areas and Landscapes – City as Ecosystem

Emphasizing the city as ecology, or ecosystem, Steve Luoni and his colleagues in the University of Arkansas Community Design Center lead the movement toward intelligent design of urban landscapes that will reduce energy consumption and limit man’s impact on the environment.

Luoni focuses on six design models that demonstrate his recombinant ecologies, which are urban centers and landscapes that feature:

• Watershed urbanism, or a “re-wilding” of rivers and creeks
• Context-sensitive highway design
• Green and shared streets
• Transit-oriented development
• Urban forestry and, perhaps most importantly
• Low-impact development.

Luoni isn’t the first planner to emphasize that subways and light rail systems prompt developers to build walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Such systems optimize a region’s transportation efficiency, generate downtown revitalization, decrease land and energy consumption and facilitate neighborhood-based commerce beyond the suburban big box retail center.

“A transportation system that includes rail provides more transit options,” Luoni says. “It increases access for transit-challenged populations while reducing congestion and individual transportation costs.”

“Viewing and designing the city as an ecosystem will facilitate lower energy and land consumption through novel solutions that leverage social creativity and a sense of place,” says Luoni.

Cars and the need to park those cars will always be a part of any city’s “ecosystem.” However, Robotic Parking Systems can contribute to lower impact development by fitting more cars in less space. Reducing parking space by 50% provides significant opportunities for more green space in any urban area.

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