Infill and redevelopment can provide a variety of benefits, such as leveraging and making efficient use of existing infrastructure and services, promoting walkability, spurring investment in disinvested or stagnant growth areas, and helping to preserve key agricultural and natural lands by accommodating growth in already developed locations. The redevelopment process also presents unique opportunities to conserve, restore, and enhance natural resources at infill locations and to increase climate resilience.
Given that most development happened before the advent of today’s best practices, redevelopment can help tackle some of the region’s most persistent environmental challenges. For example, remediating brownfield sites when conditions are favorable provides environmental and social benefits; however, current funds for these initiatives are limited. In addition, building renovations and construction of new buildings can result in improved environmental performance through the use of energy- and water-efficient systems and appliances, renewable energy, water reuse, recycled and sustainable materials, and other sustainable approaches.
In addition, strategy development for ON TO 2050 has highlighted other environmental issues related to climate change and flooding, water quality, community greening and placemaking, and impacts to vulnerable populations that are particularly important to address during the redevelopment process. Climate change -- and the associated exacerbation of urban heat island effects and flooding -- underscores the importance of expanding green infrastructure, tree canopy, and other community greening strategies. With regard to underserved populations, review of the GO TO 2040 access to parks indicator (See the Draft ON TO 2050 Indicators Appendix) revealed that the region’s EDAs have far lower access to parks than economically connected areas: in 2013, 28.6 percent of the population in EDAs had access to four or more acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, compared to 53.8 percent in other areas. As EDAs redevelop, making a concerted effort to provide park space will help to reduce this disparity over time.
The following subsection describes strategies and actions to implement this recommendation.