6.0 Sustainability

Background

Perhaps the most far-reaching trend affecting and influencing land use and transportation policies in the 21st Century is the Sustainability movement. The most widely accepted definition of sustainability comes from the work of the United Nations’ Bruntland Commission, established in 1983. The commission defined sustainability as: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Benjamin A. Herman, Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP), notes that “Sustainability is a balanced approach that considers people, planet and prosperity.” By “people,” it means community well-being and equity. “Planet” refers to the environment and resource conservation. And “prosperity” means economic vitality.

Herman adds: “In the long run, sustainability means adapting human activities to the constraints and opportunities of the natural systems we need to support life.”

Communities from California to Florida are adopting “Sustainability Plans” and forming commissions to oversee these plans. While these plans vary in scope and content, their primary focus is to guide communities in their attempt to achieve a balance between economic growth, environmental preservation and community building. This balance is the so called “triple bottom line” of sustainable growth (Figure E-4).

Figure E-4 - Sustainability - The Triple Bottom Line

Figure E-4 Sustainability - The Triple Bottom Line

Sustainability Movement

The Sustainability movement is broad and is reflected in a wide spectrum of plans, programs and policies in small and large towns and cities throughout the U.S. Within the area of “Environmental Sustainability” are initiatives ranging from “zero” emission public transit (Oakland, CA) to enhanced recycling (Cincinnati, OH). Within the “Economic Sustainability” category are “farm fresh food” (Portland OR), “smart energy” (Boulder, CO) and cultivation of existing business (Pittsburgh, PA).

Finally, within the area of “Social Sustainability,” the following can be found: affordable housing ordinance (Davidson, NC), civic engagement process (Seattle, WA), and the preservation of cultural and historic resources (Groton, MA).

The preservation and enhancement of our natural, scenic and cultural assets, in the context of economic prosperity and community well-being, is vital to ensuring a high quality of life for Huntersville residents. The continued efforts of Huntersville to place a high priority and value on these assets will yield both tangible and intangible benefits, well into the future.