"In order to have any chance at environmental sustainability, we need strong cities and walkable suburbs," writes Benfield. "They enable living patterns that save energy, reduce automobile dependence and tailpipe emissions, slow the spread of pavement across watersheds, and conserve land, compared to spread-out suburbs. But, for cities to serve this function, they need to work for people. And I mean people of all sorts in an increasingly diversifying population, not just creative-class MIllennials with no school-age kids and well-to-do Baby Boomers moving back downtown."
So urban issues that might appear to have no connection to "the environment" - like improving public schools, reducing crime, or protecting affordable housing - are, in fact, important to building sustainability.
"Sustainability isn’t just about numbers, and it isn’t always explicitly about 'the environment,' by which most of us mean issues related to pollution and resource consumption," adds Benfield. "If our urban solutions don’t work for people – if we don’t make cities wonderful places to live, work, and play – they will never sustain enough favor to work for the planet."