Natural resources and environmental sustainability Introduction

A sustainable community aligns its built environment and socioeconomic activities with nature’s constraints and opportunities. Central to this concept is meeting our present and future needs by balancing protection of the environment and ongoing prosperity of the local economy. The two components are interrelated and equally important—one component should not succeed at the expense of the other.

The degree to which a city’s urban form is compact, mixed-use, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly and transit-oriented influences its travel patterns and vehicle miles traveled, public health and safety, emergency preparedness and access to housing and economic opportunity. San Antonio’s sustainability planning work to date has included considerations of both our transportation and our land use networks. In particular, the Mission Verde retrofit plan and the Neighborhood Sustainability Assessment provide a strong framework. San Antonio achieved a Neighborhood Sustainability Assessment median score of 40/100, with the downtown area scoring highest. Not surprisingly, neighborhoods with denser housing and development achieve higher index scores than those with low-density, suburban-style development patterns.

In 2014, the City adopted the nation’s first Green Event Guide Ordinance, requiring events on City-owned property to complete a “green scorecard” for certification and consider measures to reduce water and energy use, generate less waste and increase recycling. Other key City accomplishments include a Farm to Work program to help City employees receive farm fresh produce and working with Staples to establish eco-conscious purchasing policies and practices. The City’s upcoming Sustainability Plan will include recommendations, strategies and actions to further reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption.

Several key issues will define San Antonio’s successful approach to natural resources and environmental sustainability during the next 25 years.