Environmental Sustainability

Ecological systems are significantly impacted by the built environment. Land use regulations and the built environment have posed significant impacts on natural resources. Incorporating sustainable practices introduces regulations that are ecologically sensitive and result in land use decisions that sustain natural resources and systems.

Importance of Environmental Sustainability

The quality of life Chester County residents experience today has been shaped by decisions that were made many decades ago. Over the past three decades, an average of 25 acres have been lost to development each day in the greater Philadelphia region and land was consumed at five times the rate of population growth.1 Chester County continues to be the fastest growing county in the state with an anticipated increase of more than 176,000 people over the next 30 years.2 This development trend cannot continue without significantly impacting the environmental resources of our County. This rapid growth without consideration for environmental quality has resulted in degraded stream quality, soil erosion and significant vegetative loss.

It is important to strike a balance between the needs of a growing and changing population and the ability of natural resources to support this growth. Chester County municipalities are beginning to understand that land, forests, agricultural soils, open space, water, and clean air are resources that must be conserved and managed responsibly. They are implementing land use and development practices that preserve and promote their continued availability for future generations. We are beginning to understand that the environmental, social and economic characteristics of the things we create and consume are measured not only by their initial cost, but by their costs and benefits over their entire lifespan.

Sustainable environmental practices are needed in order to support smart growth. Our region competes in a global context, where individuals have an increasing ability to live in whatever region offers the highest standard of living and best natural environment. Sustainable practices will help to retain residents in our County, and preserve opportunities for future generations. As we currently live with the consequences of decisions that were made years ago, the choices we make in the near future will have effects on future Chester County citizens for years to come.

Economic Sustainability | Environmental Sustainability | Social Sustainability

1 "Implementing Connections — A Guide for Municipalities", Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (April 2010).

2 "Chester County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Report", Chester County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Task Force (July 2009) page 4.