A walkable urbanism renaissance
We, at Comunita are immensely supportive of sustainable urbanism. Our aim to build coliving homes, creating more life enriching urban areas, is founded on concepts of sustainability, community, and wellbeing.
We want to create spaces of activation, where homes are built with sustainable resources, linked to sustainable energy, with sustainable living practices being encouraged. Comunita want to nurture urban spaces which focus on protecting the environment, so we can create a better, safer world for future generations.
Foot Traffic Ahead brought out a new report last month confirming the benefits of sustainable urbanism, focusing on building walkable urban spaces in the United States of America, and how this is the key to economic success. Walkable developments are performing better for those who choose to call a city their home.
Patrick Sisson writes if urban planners focus on creating walkable urban spaces in cities, social equity will be improved and there will be more jobs and productive economic activity, benefiting developers and investors, as well as city dwellers. Six of the top ten US cities which have the highest social equity ranking, also have the highest amount of walkable urban areas, indicating a clear positive correlation between the two factors.
Walkable urban areas also allow for better transit access, reducing congestion and a city’s carbon footprint. They encourage more green areas and support communities being active outside. Overarching all of this, is the fact that walkable urban spaces also help to improve the environment.
The report was a joint project run by a team of passionate organisations including, The Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business, Smart Growth America/LOCUS, Cushman & Wakefield, and Yardi Matrix. It focused on a formula investigating office and rental density, Walk Score and real estate development in the U.S’s 30 largest metropolitan cities, where 47% of the total US population lives; that being 150 million people.
The key conclusion reached was walkable urban areas experience significant growth, have increased economic strength and consistently reach high educational goals.
Another key statistic found was that walkable urban places require around 75% higher rent over the city average, with 105% higher rent for office space and 121% higher rent for retail spaces. Although this indicates higher demand and more expensive housing, costs of living are offset as you live closer a community and your job, saving money in other areas of your life such as transit costs.
It is thus becoming more and more popular to live in sustainable areas, that connect you to the environment and the community around you, with developments of these spaces only increasing. It appears when future developments do not have walkable areas, they are missing out on investment opportunities.
But if there are so many positive benefits from walkable urban areas, then why are we still failing to plan and build more of these neighbourhoods?
Mainly it is because our traditional urban planning focuses on the opposite pattern and this is just something we are used too, stuck in old habits. We have been building sub-urban developments, with low density, segregated buildings with car-centric transport being the main transit option focus, for centuries.
However, the report clearly shows us, if we continue to plan our cities via the traditional way, we will not be able to increase economic performance or encourage better social equality. Cities must become more flexible and must promote urban development in public policy and invest in infrastructure which is sustainable and in line with the desires of the modern market. Both public and private sectors should work together to encourage increased development of walkable urban areas. This is a concept we are hoping to introduce with our own coliving spaces coming next year.
Where are your favourite walkable urban areas? Do you have any ideas on how cities can become more sustainable?