Over the next 30 years, major cities throughout the world are projected to increase in population by over 274,000 people every day. In New York City, the already heavily populated city is projected to increase from 8.4 million people in 2013 to over 9 million by 2030, augmenting the demand for affordable housing. In anticipation of this growth, real estate developers have increased the production of housing units by 22 percent in some areas.
New York City is already in the grips of an affordable housing crisis with the lack of suitable housing at a reasonable price for residents, and the estimated population growth would likely worsen the situation. Additionally, New York is challenged by restricted resources: land, water, electricity, and transportation are all limited. Working to stave off a potential crisis, NYC officials, urban planners and developers have already found some ways to stretch resources and make more efficient use of the limited space.
A government project, OneNYC, was introduced in 2009 as an effort to build a more sustainable environment for the projected one million people expected to move to NYC within the next few decades. This project encompasses initiatives related to climate change, affordable housing, and covering areas of land, water, transportation, and energy. OneNYC has resulted in trees planted, reflective rooftops, and a 19% reduction in carbon emissions.
Both the public and private sectors are working to provide a sustainable city. Real estate developer Rob Speyer spoke at last year’s Urban Land Institute fall conference and addressed the need to focus on how individuals make use of structures within cities. “Buildings don’t exist in a vacuum, and the behavior, and the lifestyles of the people that live and work in our buildings? That’s what’s really going to determine the future of the environment,” said Speyer. Conserving resources, reducing carbon emissions, and being energy efficient are attractive qualities for potential residents. Also adding to their attractiveness, buildings are now designed to utilize any space they can to provide “green space”: roof decks, “yards”, or urban gardens. This is a desirable option for city-dwellers who lack outdoor space in their homes, but also because these spaces can improve air quality, reduce pollution, and decrease the carbon footprint of the building.
At this critical time, New York City has the opportunity to shine as an example of sustainability for other growing urban areas. If managed well, NYC can create a sustainable city that not only improves the quality of life, but leads to improved public health, job growth, a reduction in excess spending, and an increased economic appeal for investors.
What are your thoughts on sustainable design, or on adding an additional 600K people to our tiny island/boroughs? Let’s chat below!
By: Ray McNeal
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