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Smart Growth Communities: How Effective are they to Reducing Carbon Footprint Related Directly to Transportation?

Author: Megan Mae Homison
Date: 2011
Program: Master of Science in Interior Architecture, Chatham University

Sustainability is extremely important in order to protect the environment and sustainable design has been a popular trend of suburban living in the 21st century. Smart growth is a sustainable approach to greener cities, which could limit our resource usage. One of the design elements of a smart growth community is to decrease an individual’s carbon footprint by means of transportation such as walking, biking, or use of public transportation. Carbon footprint is comprised of several different factors but transportation is a large component and today there are nearly as many automobiles as there are people in the U.S. Today, urban sprawl has become overwhelming and smart growth communities are creating an outlet for individuals to live in the suburbs but have the convenience of amenities within walking distance. Smart growth communities can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint because they include the development of mixed use amenities in one convenient location. There are several successful smart growth communities located in the U.S. These communities present a great example of the success a smart growth community can impose. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of two small-scale smart growth communities in Pittsburgh, PA based on the usage of amenities; transportation used, and average distance of travel. The participants at each location answered several questions that were multiple choice and fill in the blank. The results demonstrated that most of the residents, in both locations, drive more miles than expected for residents that live in a smart growth community.