By Hallie Kennan and Chris Busch
The notion of sustainable cities usually conjures environmental themes, but sustainable urban design’s greatest impact could be on economic performance. By creating improved quality of life conditions for residents, sustainable cities simultaneously lay the foundation for wide-ranging economic benefits.
The greatest competition in today’s footloose economy is the fight for human talent, and urban quality of life strongly determines whether cities can attract a smart workforce, as well as the innovative new companies employing them.
Cities weren’t always ideal for business, and for decades the attraction of space and privacy drew people toward suburbia, with businesses following suit. But within the last decade people have begun returning to the city, and this trend symbolically accelerated in 2015 when millennials overtook Generation X as the largest generation in America’s workforce.
This generation is often characterized as smart, single, career-focused and experience-driven — a group attracted to cities with walkable neighborhoods, public transportation options, educational opportunities and cultural activities. But more than just young adults are increasingly drawn to the features of urban living, and employees of all ages are working longer hours, pushing them to live closer to work to free up more precious leisure time.