What is a Sustainable Plan?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Also known as sustainable development, a sustainable plan is a structured course of action that is designed to meet the current needs of those concerned, while also laying the groundwork for the needs of future generations. The concept of a sustainable plan is often used in various types of urban and suburban planning, as well as in the design of road systems. A sustainability plan often involves making the most efficient use of available resources, while also seeking to ensure that the impact for later generations is as positive as the benefits derived by the current generation.

Today, planning a sustainable city, town, or neighborhood often includes not only using available resources in the most prudent manner, but also taking into account the present and future impact of the planning on the environment. This is because there is a much higher awareness of the need to preserve the environment for future generations than in decades past. For this reason, a sustainable plan will consider such factors as laying out a grid of streets that allow the use of alternative modes of travel, such as walking or riding a bicycle, as well as account for the use of automobiles and similar vehicles.


A sustainable plan will also look closely at the types of materials used in constructing buildings, creating sewage systems, and even strategically incorporated live flora and fauna into the overall design for the community. The layout of the streets will often allow for future widening of various thoroughfares, anticipating the population growth of the area and the need to accommodate increasing amounts of traffic in generations to come. At the same time, a truly sustainable process of city planning will include ways to preserve the integrity of existing business districts and residential areas in such a way as to allow issues such as urban blight and decline to be minimized from one generation to the next.

There is no one ideal process for developing a sustainable plan. Factors such as the climate, type of raw materials available in the area, the population of the community, and the general condition of the environment in the area are all important considerations that will affect one or more components of the plan. For this reason, it is usually not possible to develop a truly sustainable plan for a city or town without spending a great deal of time and effort to consider all relevant factors, and determine how to proceed in a manner that will be beneficial over the long term.


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