Built Environment

20170429_121814What is Built Environment? 

A definition set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the built environment refers to manmade surroundings that individuals work, live, and interact in on a daily basis. Built environment generally includes spaces like public buildings, homes, streets, sidewalks, and other city infrastructure. Areas within a city’s built environment must be maintained and made adaptable to allow for a healthy, productive, and efficient atmosphere in which citizens can grow and thrive economically, socially, and environmentally. A City controls the built environment through a variety of means, but predominantly through land use and planning, in order to create a viable sustainable community with the resources to thrive.

A city’s built environment sustainability can be measured in terms of resilience towards both short and long-term threats like hurricanes and sea level rise. Infrastructure must be able to handle impacts from disasters, manmade or natural, in all pre, present, and post time frames. Sustainable development follows a systems design throughout its life cycle, something many previous human-built systems as a whole do not take into account.

The Built Environment includes the following:

1. Integrating green building standards into both public and private developments
2. Land use practices, and promotion of sustainable development for infill of local goods and services to create a stable and long-term economy and walkable community
3. Re-use and redevelopment of both public and private lands and buildings
4. Government decisions for repurpose, operation, and retirement of municipal structures
5. Creation and maintenance of public spaces
6. Creating walkable, bikable, and alternative vehicle use opportunities and safe spaces
7. Evaluating density increases for residential development to support commercial ventures
8. Long-term tax bases with equal land use support (i.e. residential and commercial, as opposed to predominantly residential) 9. Providing incentives for better natural resource management for new construction and redevelopment, thereby reducing wasted spaces, vacancies, and derelict buildings or spaces

Built Environment Stressors:

Primary stressors in regards to sustainability in the built environment include stormwater events, hurricanes, and sea level rise, each with secondary effects and problems. Other stressors include providing a proper mix, mass, and mesh of land usage to support the community's needs for goods and services in close proximity. Additionally, there is a need to create the right mix of land uses to support the City's tax base and not stress one category (e.g., all on the residential lands) and enable the City to provide for the needs of all citizens.

Hurricanes are an annual threat to Florida’s east coast from the months of June to November. All present and future municipal structures must be built to withstand and cope with these storms by becoming safe and secure locations for both citizens and relief officials.

Data from the 2011 city-sanctioned report Assessing municipal vulnerability to predicted sea level rise: City of Satellite Beach, Florida, made appCapturearent that sea level rise will affect some of the city’s most critical pieces of infrastructure within the century in association with a global sea level rise of over three feet by 2100. A tipping point for municipal operations being affected will be +2 feet of water rise above present around 2050. Negative effects of this rise will be seen earlier in the form of enhanced storm surges, tidal flooding, and stormwater runoff issues.

The topographic map of the City (left) shows the most at-risk areas of the City are not along the ocean but are on the west side along the Indian River Lagoon. Even with a water rise of as little as two feet, recurring impacts can be expected on key City infrastructure, starting most likely with fall “kingtide” flooding of South Patrick Drive in front of the Fire Station. At three feet, flooding will likely expand to include parking at City Hall and the David R. Schechter Community Center and along South Patrick Drive and adjacent streets and landscapes. At four feet icons and key infrastructure such as City Hall, the fire station, the David R. Schechter Center, and Desoto Park may experience recurring flooding, along with some homes and businesses.

Climate change will bring about other issues that must be confronted such as severe rainstorms, heat waves, the spreading of tropical diseases such as the Zika virus, and prolonged droughts. Drought resistant gardening techniques that do not use fertilizers, such as Xeriscaping, should expand in adoption among residents and is actively being explored for implementation at all municipal building grounds. Check out the links below to find out more!