How New Urbanism Makes Traditional Suburbs Greener
Recent suburban green living designs are moving toward new urbanism, which incorporates mixed housing types, higher housing densities, walking paths, community parks, local shopping centers, and strong community associations for a more eco-friendly living experience. Many newer suburbs also have improved their management of natural vegetation and water runoff. These new urbanism concepts help counter the environmental challenges of traditional suburbs:
Inefficient land use: Green land is paved over to provide housing. During heavy rains and storms, the water runs off into storm sewers or floods low-lying areas (often creating erosion as it does so) because it can no longer seep naturally away into the earth as it once did.
Increased demand for gas and oil: Many suburbs designed several decades ago feature few sidewalks and little in the way of local stores, practically forcing residents into vehicles for getting to work, recreation, and shopping, thus increasing energy-related vehicle costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Urban design issues: Migration to suburbs caused the “donut” effect in many cities, as downtowns become ghost towns at night when office workers head home to the suburbs. Downtown areas became rundown and crime-ridden because of a lack of legitimate night-time users.
Increased pressure on utilities: The desire for large houses with all the amenities, such as large entertainment systems, air conditioning, swimming pools, and lots of fully furnished rooms, increases water and power consumption in suburban areas.
New urbanism hopes to end these suburban problems of the past few decades and create beautiful, self-sufficient, green neighborhoods.