Check the Stats: Sustainability
By no means complete, below are a few facts that illustrate how a sustainable approach contributes to the community. See the Readings for other examples and best practices.
Challenges To Creating Sustainable Communities
Under conventional development scenarios the first 5% of growth often ruins 50% of the countryside.
Because of longer commutes, it is statistically more dangerous to
live in the suburbs than the inner city.
The states with the highest crime rates, Florida and Arizona, have the most transient, suburban populations.
America has twice as many shopping malls as high schools. There are 4,000 abandoned malls in America, and approximately 20% of malls fail each year.
More than a fifth of American society now lives behind gated walls.
Findings: The Economics of Downtown Development
It can be done: In King County, Washington, which is home to the fast-growing city of Seattle, only 5% of development since 1995 has occurred in rural areas.
A 1995 American Farmland Trust report in California notes that the state could save more than 500,000 acres from growth and $1.2 billion in taxes through a development program that focuses on existing communities, not more outlying growth.
Housing costs in Portland, which has growth boundaries, and Phoenix, which has virtually no limits to growth, are virtually the same – lending little credence to the argument that boundaries drive up costs.
A 1992 California study comparing housing costs in cities with strong growth controls and those without controls found that costs "need not be statistically higher or increase faster in growth control cities than in pro-growth cities."
Over the last decade small businesses accounted for more than 85% of new jobs.
Findings: The Costs of Outlying Growth
A 1991 study by the DuPage County Planning Department in Illinois found that new development tended to increase property taxes, and communities with the most rapid growth tended to have the greatest tax increases.
The famous Cost of Sprawl study done in the mid-1970s found that it costs substantially more to serve rambling residential areas than it does to serve compact development closer to the city center. A single-family home in the suburbs pays less than $5,000 in property taxes but costs the city more than $10,000 to service it.
Farmland and open space require only 53¢ in support for every tax dollar collected, whereas residential land requires $1.14.
A National League of Cities study in the early 1990s found that regions with the greatest income disparity between downtown and the suburbs experienced diminished overall economic growth.
A Virginia study found that the cost of providing services to sprawl was 43% higher than to more compact developments.
Building more and wider highways simply creates more traffic: "When you improve a small congested road, you wind up with a big congested road." – John Keats
Findings: How We Live
Americans prefer a good community to a good house by a 3-1 margin.
In the 1980s, San Jose initiated a program to evaluate home energy consumption, reducing utility bills by $5 million annually.
A Brown University study found that the country could save $50 billion each year on heart diseases if Americans walked for an hour each day.
A bike rack costs $250 to install, while an average parking space costs $20,000.