Redesigning small cities in the face of climate change

Authors: Jim Porto*, CommunityCAPS, Hélène DUCROS*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Climate change, small cities, United States, urban village
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Cleveland 1, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper we ask how localized efforts at climate change mitigation could be scaled up as to be adapted to small cities. Since the 1900s, cities in the United States have been designed through zoning policies, the automobile providing the connection between spaces intended for separate uses (living, working, studying, playing and producing). “Mixed use” was abandoned as a development principle while “zoned use” became the dominant growth pattern over the next 100 years, resulting in exacerbated pressures on the environment, especially as urban population has increased. It is predicted that, over the next 50 years, climate change will lead coastal populations in the US to relocate into the interior, primarily to urban areas, further complicating the sustainability of the zoned use model. This internal migration provides the opportunity to rethink small urban environments that have not already heavily invested into an infrastructure grid. As lawmakers have initiated discussions about a massive infrastructure improvement program for American communities, we review the most sought-after features of the sustainable city of the future, which we label “urban village.” We propose the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a potential inspiration for the urban environments of the future in the US and envisage what the costs might be to expand some of the sustainability programs implemented on campus to larger communities likely to have to absorb incoming climate-induced migrations.

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