Urban patterns and environmental performance: What do we know?

  • Alberti M
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This paper reviews the empirical evidence on the relationships between urban patterns and various dimensions of environmental quality and performance. I first examine approaches to measuring urban environmental perfor- mance, drawing on the concepts of carrying capacity, ecological footprint, environmental space, and appropriated ecosystem area. Since cities affect and are affected by ecological systems far beyond their physical boundaries, I propose including interactions at the local, regional, and global scales in the definition of environmental performance. I then systemati- cally review the current literature on the rela- tionship between four structural variables typically used to describe urban patterns- form, density, grain, and connectivity and four dimensions of environmental perfor- mance sources, sinks, ecological support systems, and human well-being. I conclude that what we measure and the scale of analysis affect the direction of observable urban im- pacts. We must consider these factors as we select measures of urban environmental per- formance. Marina

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