How smart is smart growth? Examining
the environmental validation behind city
compaction

Author(s): Gren, Å., Colding, J., Berghauser-Pont, M., Marcus, L.
In: Ambio DOI 10.1007/s13280-018-1087-y
Year: 2018
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Urban
Link to centre authors: Colding, Johan, Gren, Åsa
Full reference: Gren, Å., Colding, J., Berghauser-Pont, M., Marcus, L. 2018. How smart is smart growth? Examining the environmental validation behind city compaction. Ambio DOI 10.1007/s13280-018-1087-y

Summary

Smart growth (SG) is widely adopted by planners and policy makers as an environmentally friendly way of building cities. In this paper, we analyze the environmental validity of the SG-approach based on a
review of the scientific literature. We found a lack of proof of environmental gains, in combination with a great inconsistency in the measurements of different SG attributes. We found that a surprisingly limited number of studies have actually examined the environmental
rationales behind SG, with 34% of those studies displaying negative environmental outcomes of SG. Based on the insights from the review, we propose that research within this context must first be founded in more advanced and consistent knowledge of geographic and spatial analyses. Second, it needs to a greater degree be based on a system’s understanding of urban processes. Third, it needs to aim at making cities more resilient, e.g., against climate-change effects.

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