Sustainable Communities within the Built Environment


In the context of today’s stressed economies, aging infrastructure, shifting demographics, changing climate, and uncertain energy prices and availability, planning for the long-term economic, social and environmental resiliency of New York’s communities is a priority concern. Cities and communities, both urban and rural, around the world are in a mess: housing is often flimsy and inadequate, transportation is slow and inefficient, pollution is poisoning our air and water, crime is on the rise, education lags behind world standards, energy and water resources are under strain, waste piles up outside our cities, and basic infrastructure for everything from water to communication is either crumbling or completely lacking—all effects that hurt employment, life style and health. It has become clear that community health and wellbeing depend not only on meeting economic, social, and environmental objectives, but, more importantly, on effectively integrating these objectives through a systems approach.

The research initiative engages local community leaders and organizations in identifying needs and in working toward development of a scalable and adaptable systems-based approach to sustainable community development and redevelopment for New York State and beyond.  The objectives are:

·         To develop strategies for the advancement and implementation of the sustainable community vision that would be applicable and scalable in New York State and the US.

·         To evaluate the role that sustainable communities might play in achieving current and future development goals, particularly in combating and reversing urban decay in some of New York’s oldest industrial cities.

·         To establish a robust coalition involving Cornell University, other NYS universities and colleges, municipal institutions and governments, private businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to identify actionable opportunities for revitalization and transformation of neighborhoods within NYS, the result of which can act as tangible models of communities moving toward sustainability and greater urban and ecological resilience

Faculty Involved: Susan ChristophersonKieran Donaghy, Al George,  Paula Horrigan, Rod Howe, David Kay, Michal Moore, Susan Riha, Jenny SabinNorman ScottJefferson TesterFrancis Vanek.