Our Built and Natural Environments: A Technical Review of the Interactions between Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality


In recent years interest has grown in Smart Growth as a mechanism for improving environmental quality. In "Our Built and Natural Environments", the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarizes technical research on the relationship between the built and natural environments, as well as current understanding of the role of development patterns, urban design, and transportation in improving environmental quality. "Our Built and Natural Environments" is designed as a technical reference for analysts in state and local governments, academics, and people studying the implications of development on the natural environment. The built environment has direct and indirect effects on the natural environment. Urban form directly affects habitat, ecosystems, endangered species, and water quality through land consumption, habitat fragmentation, and replacement of natural cover with impervious surfaces. Development patterns and practices also indirectly affect environmental quality since urban form influences the travel decisions that people make. Certain patterns of development encourage increased use of motor vehicles, which is associated with growth in emissions of air pollutants and the greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. Air pollution and climate change, in turn, can adversely affect water quality and habitat. "Our Built and Natural Environments" first examines trends in land use and their impacts. It then explores how various development patterns and practices can minimize environmental damage.


102 pages; available for download at the link below.


Smart Growth, urban planning, planned growth, land resources, environmental protection