Beyond Design: The Importance of Construction and Post-Construction Phases in Green Developments
Green developments are becoming a popular land use planning concept that attempts to accommodate growth while minimizing impacts on natural resources. Various policies encourage conservation designs that usually translate into the clustering of homes and the conservation of some percentage of open space. However, the success of a design is determined by what happens during the construction and post-construction phases of a subdivision project. These two phases are often ignored in land use planning and given only minimal attention by built environment professionals. As a result, green developments may not be functioning as originally intended. This essay discusses the importance of construction and post-construction and a way forward to create functional, sustainable communities. Construction activities and decisions, such as impacts from earthwork machines, improper protection of conserved open spaces and trees, the choice of plants used for yards and common areas, and the storage of construction material all can lead to severe impacts on natural areas both within and surrounding a development site. During post-construction, a variety of improper management practices by homeowners can compromise the sustainability of a development. Developers and associated environmental consultant teams could implement approaches that would engage contractors and residents, such as environmental construction covenants and the installment of a neighborhood, environmental education program. To increase the adoption of relevant construction and post-construction practices, appropriate policies need to be created. However, the shift will only occur once the planning and built environment community acknowledges that design is only the first step towards sustainability. Academic design studios and continuing education courses can help with this culture shift by including construction and post-construction considerations within their curriculum.
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