Urban Sprawl vs. Smart Growth: Where is it heading in 2019?

Is 2019 the year to curb urban “sprawl” in exchange for smart growth?

According to newurbanism.org, sprawl is defined as, “development that is dispersed, auto-dependent, single use, and impossible to walk to your daily needs.”

This type of urban sprawl threatens farmland, often raises public service costs, and encourages the general population to migrate to cities which in turn creates more traffic and congestion. And as James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere, said Americans consider these to be normal living arrangements. He writes, “[It’s] bankrupting us economically, socially, ecologically, and spiritually.”

Smart growth initiatives like promoting better housing, improving transportation, and preserving environmental quality have already begun to help solve the sprawl.

The Smart Growth Network developed a list of 10 strategies to positively promote smart growth across the U.S:

  • Mix land uses
  • Take advantage of compact building design
  • Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
  • Create walkable neighborhoods
  • Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
  • Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
  • Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
  • Provide a variety of transportation choices
  • Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
  • Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions

How Smart Growth will Impact Construction

As more and more cities begin trending towards Smart Growth communities, construction firms will be looked at to help implement these changes. From the Smart Growth Network 10 strategies – which of those will have the greatest impact on the construction industry?

  1. Take advantage of compact building design: Construction companies will be asked to reimagine the way they design buildings. This would be an opportunity to put your firm’s wide range of knowledge and skills to use.
  2. Create a range of housing opportunities: If communities are looking to add more housing, someone needs to build those developments. This could open a number of jobs spread out over a long period of time for your company.
  3. Provide a variety of transportation choices: In order to ensure proper means of transportation, roads and bridges have to be properly intact for increased transportation to be effective. In 2016, the U.S. DOT said just over 66% of roadways in this country have been deemed to be in “less than good” condition. Your company could be the one to help fix those up across the board.

Because smart growth is up and coming and changes need to be made, you may want to consider the impact it will have on your company.

With the labor shortage, do you have staff to cover precision based projects? Do you have the staffing to cover all of your other projects. If not, can you use Artificial Intelligence or robotics to close the gap on certain parts of a job without assistance from a human. This can make the search for laborers less daunting, as well as help you focus on hiring the best help for the main parts of the job.

Look at your books – do you have it in the budget to take on a project or two like this? It may be a large upfront cost but with a big return, both for you, and for the community with which you are a part.


By | 2019-03-18T14:11:39+00:00 January 25th, 2019|Construction News, Environment, Thunderbolt University|