23 May 2013

What is EcoDensity?

by Crystal Eggleton, Peter McMahon

The theory behind EcoDensity is that population growth is inevitable and that sprawl is hard on the planet.

A new buzzword around town is "EcoDensity", but what is it?

EcoDensity is an attempt to increase the population in existing neighbourhoods in a way which is both environmentally friendly and reduces the city's ecological footprint.

In a practical sense, EcoDensity means encouraging forms of development in low to medium density areas which will allow for an increased number of people to live there. Typically, such areas could be along transit corridors, in areas of the city considered transitional (such as light industrial areas being rezoned for residential use) or existing medium density areas.

EcoDensity also means design which is environmentally sustainable, affordable and livable. It does not necessarily only refer to new builds, it can also include adapting existing large houses into flats or even as simple as "granny flats".

The theory behind EcoDensity is that population growth is inevitable and that sprawl is hard on the planet, but that densification can make good things happen, such as the flow-on effects of more people using public transport creating more demand which means that services should run more frequently and more people supporting more amenities, shops and restaurants.

The critics of EcoDensity point to what happens when densification is not done properly, such as where there are not enough public amenities to support the increased population or where population has increased but not to adequate levels to increase public transport which just causes a traffic nightmare.

Vancouver has recently adopted EcoDensity Charter that the community and the city can use to drive a better ecological footprint. It has been suggested that a similar approach could be used in Sydney and other major metropolitan cities in Australia to better manage growth.


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