Finding a Green Location in Any Town
If you already know what town or city you are going to live in, either due to family, work, or environmental reasons, there are still choices about what part of town to live in. If you know where you'll be working, that's a start. Then you can consider all of your commutes — to work, school, the grocery store, and other regular activities.
Take into account the frequency of those trips and when they'll be made. What appears to be a great location at two in the afternoon may turn ugly during rush hour. If you are relocating, start looking at places that will give you the shortest trip miles through the week. This strategy will save money that you would spend on fuel and reduce wear and tear on the car, and it may also offer the possibility of biking or walking to some destinations.
If living close to work or school just isn't an option, look at mass transit routes and other transportation opportunities. Is carpooling an option? Or is a subway or train station located nearby? An activity that a family member participates in regularly may also be a controlling consideration. Weigh all the factors.
Although debated by many, urban sprawl is blamed for much of society's woes. Urban sprawl does fragment and destroy wildlife habitat and corridors. The persistent construction of low-density housing developments requires additional roads and cars to navigate them. Unless houses or developments are constructed to be independent from municipal services, other infrastructure systems such as water, wastewater, and electricity have to be expanded to accommodate spreading cities.
A number of larger cities have encouraged the construction of green homes within the city limits to avoid or at least control urban sprawl. Although sprawl may be the bane of society, suburbs can be designed in ways that reduce their potential impact on the environment and conserve natural resources and wildlife habitat.
Cities are choosing to develop more efficiently in the suburbs with mixed-use neighborhoods that are bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The aim is that although people may have to drive to work, they should be able to walk or bike about easily once they get home.
Two terms used when it comes to addressing urban sprawl are new urbanism and smart growth. New urbanism includes compact livable communities — Celebration, Florida, for example — that are traditional neighborhood developments that include various types of housing units as well as professional and entertainment entities.
Smart growth is more loosely defined and generally applies to balancing development with natural resources while building single-family homes. It's accomplished through policies and ordinances governing zoning, development buffers, and minimum density requirements.