Planners and developers in the recent years have begun a more efficient way of planning called sustainable development. With the increase of pollution in the atmosphere, population growth and the need for renewable resources, sustainable development is becoming popular in western Europe and is starting to gain traction in the United States.
The term sustainable development as defined by Levy in “Contemporary Urban Planning” :
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
This general definition could be criticized for not being specific enough, but when you apply it to the three “Es” which are environmental quality, social equity, and economic development we can see its importance in the future of development.
The first “E”, Environmental quality, can be defined as “a development that does not degrade the quality of an environment from one time period to another”(Levy 299). This can be a confusing element in sustainable planning because not everyone will agree on what is environmentally conscience or not. For example, a green developer may think that an apartment complex will save open land and make affordable housing while another developer or the public will be against any multi family housings because they require a lot of electricity and water.
The second and third “E” which are social equality and economic development are often associated with a more equal spread of economic income amongst the low, middle and upper class. Like any other type of development, sustainable development needs a stable economic system which is why social equity gets such a large role in the development process. Social equality can be debated that it will cause a collapse in economy because there is not that push-and-pull between classes that keeps it thriving. While others can see this as a benefit because everyone will be equal and no one one will be left behind. Economic development is only possible when there is a strong infrastructure which is why social equality and economic development work together. There is no right or wrong answer to this idea, but it does pose a real issue that needs to be considered when planning for a sustainable future.
Sustainable development is a planning movement that is catching on in other parts of the world such as Netherlands and other parts in western Europe. Sustainable development does not want to stop development, but it does want to plan for a future that will not harm the environment in the next generations to come. The three “Es”, environmental quality, social equity, and economic development are the three major factors that planners and developers are focusing of today when planning for a more sustainable future.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2013. Print.