Sustainable Urban Design – The Future Is Now

Sustainable urban design empowers government planners, architects, engineers and communities to minimise the impact of development upon the environment, while protecting valuable resources for future generations. Amongst a turbulent period where there are global concerns about diminishing resources and environmental impacts, questions are being raised regarding the quality of life to be experienced within cities and suburban environments. With growing population bases, changing demographic trends that create a greater demand for housing supply, infrastructure and facilities, the sprawling urban environment is in need of sustainable urban design principles, ones which not only contributes to a reduction in continued use of resources but they leave a long term infrastructural investment for future generations to build upon.

Much of the worldwide development of urban environments has been completed under the premise of necessity, with a supply-driven focus taking precedence over principles of sustainable urban design. With trends of changing demographics, climate conditions, economics and technology, the future of urban development and design is to take a sharp turn; one which integrates the dual goals of improving the quality of life of residents along with the minimisation of resources and environmental impacts upon future generations.

Approximately 80% of the New Zealand’s population lives in urban environments. Population growth projections indicate that this trend of urbanisation is only set to continue, placing increasing pressure on infrastructural requirements of these future ‘mega-cities’. Taking into account these projections for continued growth, urban and metropolitan environments are now facing significant challenges in respect to their sustainability; pressures that simply cannot be ignored. Furthermore, the issue of climate change, which is receiving increasing media and scientific attention, is creating a situation where sustainable urban design must take into account the level of fossil fuels being used in the construction process, as well as carbon emissions that are a result of such construction.

Populated urban environments are a focal point for the use of fossil fuels, with the trends towards urban growth exacerbating the problem into the future. Planners, civil engineers and civic leaders are now recognising the importance of implementing more sustainable energy consumption principles in urban design. Advancing technologies in design, construction, building materials, transportation and manufacturing will however provide a valuable platform from which to achieve the implementation of sustainable urban design principles, creating new forms and functions of urban environments that will improve resident’s quality of life while addressing key concerns of population patterns, climate change, energy consumption and environmental management.

Harrison Grierson is a large advisory and design consultancy working in four key market sectors; Land and Buildings, Water and the Environment, Utilities and Transport. The Company operates throughout Australasia and the Pacific Rim.

With a focused organisational culture that stretches back over 125 years, they are well positioned to provide clients with a variety of professional skills in engineering, surveying, planning, urban design and landscape architecture from an integrated network of offices that functions as one business.

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