5 Principles to Create Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods

We often hear experts talking about the need to be resilient as humans. Resilience is not just about managing change, but also about how we deal with the inevitable disruption that comes with change. It is the ability to withstand and recover from adversity. Our built environment is at the core of this. 

Our infrastructure is the heart of our communities. Our homes, schools, places of work and recreation, hospitals, roads, energy systems, and so on. This fabric on which we rely is coming under threat from a changing climate. If we don’t build resilient infrastructure, can we build resilient communities?

What is infrastructure resilience?

Infrastructure resilience is the ability to sustain a community’s or society’s ability to provide essential services and maintain a quality of life in the face of risks, such as natural disasters, economic shocks, and social unrest.

One example of infrastructure resilience is power grid resiliency. It is the ability to quickly restore electricity service after an outage. To improve power grid resiliency, we need to invest in innovative technologies that can help us reduce the risks of outages and make it easier for utility companies to keep up with demand.

Infrastructure resilience is a key component of sustainable growth. Resilient infrastructure provides an essential service, supports economic development, and helps communities to become more livable.

How does sustainable and resilient infrastructure help to build the resilience of communities?

Building resilient communities is not just about investing in the people and their well-being. It is also about building sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Get this right and we help to provide a better quality of life for all, and a resilient community that takes care of its environment, its people, and its structures.

Resilient infrastructure can withstand the shocks created by climate change, and this helps the human population to do likewise. In turn, this resilience is key to sustainable growth that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

The most important aspect of building resilience is maintaining a healthy balance between economic development, environmental sustainability, and social cohesion. Communities need to be able to withstand shocks and stresses such as natural disasters, economic downturns, or political conflicts without being permanently harmed. Our infrastructure is crucial to ensuring stability in a society that is so fluid.

How to build resilient infrastructure that develops and supports resilient communities

If we accept that infrastructure is the framework that supports our communities, we understand how important what we construct is to developing resilient and sustainable communities. 

We cannot continue to build based upon principles that were relevant when climate change was not understood or considered in the design and construction of our infrastructure. Instead, we suggest that the following five principles should be observed in the delivery of infrastructure that supports the development of resilient communities:

  1. Infrastructure should be designed with climate change in mind, and it should be resilient to extreme weather events.

  2. Climate change should be integrated into urban planning, permissions, and approvals.

  3. Infrastructure should be easy to maintain, repair, and replace.

  4. Resilient communities should be planned for, and infrastructure built for the specific needs of their residents now and in the future.

  5. Infrastructure should support community-driven development and local economies within an overall plan.

Next steps for creating resilient communities with resilient infrastructure

Community resilience is the capacity of communities to respond to and recover from natural disasters, large-scale emergencies, and other emergencies. 

Resilience is a process that requires proactive planning and coordination between multiple sectors. We need to invest in the future of our communities, by investing in sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

These five principles that we have proposed could form a firm foundation on which to develop a more effective, highly integrated, and forward-thinking approach to infrastructure development. By embedding them in our design process, they will force us to always consider two key questions as we create future-proofed urban landscapes:

  1. What is resilient infrastructure?

  2. How to build resilient infrastructure

At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed and created. To leverage our experience in sustainable design and construction, contact ACB Consulting.

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