Region Forward Blog

The Triple Bottom Line & Planning Metro Washington's Future

Jun 2, 2011
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Admittedly it doesn’t flow off the tongue quite like smart growth but the Triple Bottom Line is a similarly comprehensive concept. The Triple Bottom Line (TBL/3BL) expands the traditional economic-centric “bottom line” to account for two other factors: social and environmental. And as it relates to planning that’s what Region Forward is all about: promoting growth while ensuring that it has not only a positive economic impact but positive social and environmental impacts as well.

Luckily as demand is increasing tremendously in metro Washington for this type of growth the market is shifting to accommodate it. People realize that suburban growth doesn’t have to be one-dimensional large-lot sprawl that is both environmentally detrimental and socially isolating. Tysons Corner (a former bastion of sprawl) is in the process of being remade into an urban transit-oriented walkable center and yesterday’s New York Times featured a great piece on plans to do the same for New Carrollton in Prince George’s County. Lots of other places in the region are undergoing or planning for similar sprawl-to-urbanism transformations.

However despite the clear benefits to triple bottom line growth sprawl is not likely to throw in the towel any time soon (though some may be more hopeful on that prospect). Region Forward and other similar efforts must keep up the pressure and focus on these issues to make sure that the progress that has already been achieved is continued and surpassed – in the region’s core and its suburban jurisdictions.

Climate change-causing emissions are at an all time high congestion continues to be an economic and environmental drain housing prices are astronomical and disparities in health and income must be reduced. Region Forward which takes into account the triple bottom line concept is aimed at making metro Washington better on all these (and other) fronts.

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