According to Contemporary Urban Planning, Environmental Planning has these goals: “Minimizing threats to human health and life, for example, by reducing the concentration of dangerous pollutants in the air or the water supply or by limiting development in hazardous areas like flood plains. Preserving resources for future use, for example, minimizing soil erosion or minimizing the emission of greenhouse gases. Achieving aesthetic and recreational goals such as preserving some areas in a pristine condition. Minimizing damage to the environment for its own sake rather than humanity’s sake, for example, by preserving the habitat of a rare species that has no known or readily foreseeable use to us”. Manhattan is a city that demonstrates most of these goals.
To start, it’s obvious that Manhattan isn’t literally a green place. The amount of man-made structures easily outnumbers what nature has made in the area, and yet it’s considered one of the “greenest” places in the United States. This is due to two things: “density and efficiency – the twin qualities that ultimately define green in the global warming era”. One of the outcomes of Manhattan excelling in these qualities is that the carbon footprint of Manhattan is 30% less than the national average. This should satisfy the first goal of environmental planning, as Manhattan is doing its best to help the air quality.
The population density of Manhattan is nothing short of amazing, as it’s 800 times that of the national average. This is the kind of thing that leads to efficiency: more than 80% of people in Manhattan travel using public transportation as opposed to the national average of 8%, and it’s obvious that the huge apartment buildings in Manhattan much more efficient than other forms of housing, like a single family home. Normally people wouldn’t really view Manhattan as an environmentally responsible and energy efficient place, but when you think about what these terms really mean it becomes clear that Manhattan really is one, and is one of the best examples of such a place in the United States.