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CNU's response to challenging climate conditions is to create enduring and multi-functional communities. Where and how we build exerts a powerful force on communities' capacity to adapt and to be resilient in the face of severe weather, temperature fluctuations, drought, wildfire, sea level rise, and water intrusion. It’s impossible to confront climate change without addressing the challenges of urban and suburban sprawl— in our cities, suburbs, small and mid-size towns, and rural areas.
New Urbanism offers practical and attainable strategies to both mitigate and adapt to climate challenges, through the planning, design, and development of places that have measurable impacts on reducing energy use and pollution, offering transportation choices beyond driving, and responding realistically to climate and surroundings.
The most essential design approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change is to build compact, integrated, walkable development and redevelopment with options on where and how to get around. These approaches also increases resource and infrastructure efficiency, using fewer resources to construct, operate and maintain communities. Compact communities create a better balance of jobs with housing, reducing pressure on the transportation system and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Compact cities not only use resources more efficiently, they also conserve and regenerate land, forests, wildlife habitat, waterways, and wetlands, as well as reserving space for agriculture. New Urbanism also emphasizes multifunctional public space that can improve public health, reduce a city's carbon footprint, encourage active lifestyles, and create places where community can form.
Addressing climate change through development (or redevelopment) achieves multiple goals. Not only are neighborhoods more properous, healthy, and socially integrated, but they are also more sustainable and resilient. Additionally, these places create, encourage, and restore beauty and public life. Our solutions for climate change must also be solutions for people: We must create places that not only satisfy the necessities of daily life, but are beautiful, enduring and meaningful - ensuring not only survival, but a rich quality of urban and rural life.
(Photo: Plan NoBe for North Beach in Miami was a 2017 Charter Award winner. Photo: Dover, Kohl & Associates)