Constructing Continuing and Sustainable Improvement

The United States has been hit hard by a multitude of issues over the last 12 months. We appear to have lurched from one crisis to another. COVID-19, economic turmoil, racial tension, and societal inequalities have caused friction and fracture within our urban neighborhoods.

I believe we must and can do better, by creating sustainable neighborhoods in which people feel valued. Here are six community improvement project ideas that I believe we should adopt as we plan, design, and construct our cities and towns.

  1. Build to Educate

We must pay heed to the ‘law of wages’, which says the more you know the more you will earn. Well-paid manufacturing jobs, which require no post-secondary education, have been in decline for several years. 

In their place, the U.S. economy has shifted toward service-sector jobs – in industries such as IT, finance, and health. These jobs require higher qualifications. Those with degrees earn appreciably more than unqualified employees.

What can we do about this? The solution is to ensure that we build high-quality education facilities in our most deprived neighborhoods, and fund them appropriately. It’s a long-term strategy, which requires government to practice what it preaches in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

As I discuss in our article ‘School is a child’s second home’, “a school is the beating heart of a community. It pumps out the lifeblood of a community’s future. If the children in a school aren’t treated to the best education they can get, a community will not prosper to its full potential.

  1. Build green

We also need to consider the affect that pollution is having on our communities. We should develop a greener landscape. One that helps to manage storm water (New York City’s green rooftops is an example) and in which we can grow fruit and vegetables for sale and distribution locally.

We should also utilize new technologies and materials to build in more environmentally friendly ways, with projects interrogated for their environmental credentials before being given the green light.

  1. Build sustainable transport systems

A greener landscape must be accompanied by a transport system that is fit for purpose. Introduce rapid bus transport, more cycle lanes, and other innovative transport solutions. Ensure that public transport takes priority over private vehicles, and that pedestrians can move around neighborhoods in safety.

  1. Build smart

We have the technology to build smart urban landscapes, using digital technologies to keep traffic flowing, improve public safety, increase efficiency of energy usage, and more. In New York City, for example, initiatives that use technology and IoT connected devices include:

  • Water management

  • Waste management

  • Traffic management

  • Navigation and mobility

The city has recently completed a huge traffic management upgrade, improving infrastructure, efficiency, and reliability.

  1. Build using our technological advantage

We are better placed to deliver vibrant, green, smart cities than we have ever been. Advances in technology (some of which I have written about in my article, ‘5 Emerging trends in the construction industry’) include modern construction methods such as:

  • Modular construction

  • 3D printing

  • BIM design

The construction industry is likely to be driven by technology as it seeks to adopt more sustainable practices, and ‘virtual construction’ allows us to build better, faster, and with greater quality and safety.

  1. Build with local community involvement

From planning through to completion, neighborhoods should involve the local community more fully. We can and should fund community growth by supporting local businesses. We can and should support small businesses by ensuring they are contracted on construction projects. We can and should foster programs like the Newark Land Bank to promote affordable and market-rate housing. 

By engaging the community in planning and building for the community, neighborhoods should benefit from becoming places in which their people want to live, work, and play. This will help to instill pride and belief, as we all become involved in building cities that boost neighborhoods and communities.

How to implement community project ideas

My experience has taught me that neighborhoods thrive when their people are involved. Local planners and city authorities may build for all the right reasons, but if the community is not involved it can feel like initiatives are something being done to them rather than for them.

Here are three things we should be doing with local communities if we are to boost our neighborhoods and deliver sustainable improvement:

  1. Identify the need – with the community

Sit down with community leaders and discover their most urgent needs. Allow people to share their views, concerns, and desires, and then help them prioritize these.

  1. Plan what must be done – with the community

With needs identified, enlist neighborhood representatives to help develop plans to move forward on the highest priorities. Brainstorm ideas that can be used to show immediate results and that help to engage the wider community in each project. Even small projects can have meaningful results.

  1. Develop a neighborhood alliance

Building better neighborhoods and developing positive communities cannot be achieved overnight. It requires a sustained effort in which pride and engagement grows. Therefore, it is necessary to build a committee which can be aligned to all neighborhood improvement projects. Progress will never be made in a straight line, but it is essential that progress is developed from within and that passion for improvement is cultivated.

2020 was a tough year, and many of the difficulties we endured have rolled over into 2021. However, we have the chance to look on our challenges as opportunities to do better and build better neighborhoods. To do so, we must think and act differently. 

We must be more proactive with our communities, and trust them to take the lead. People don’t destroy what they create. They nurture and grow it. 

To learn more about our commitment to build better neighborhoods in which community prospers, contact ACB Consulting.


Constructing Continuing and Sustainable Improvement

The United States has been hit hard by a multitude of issues over the last 12 months. We appear to have lurched from one crisis to another. COVID-19, economic turmoil, racial tension, and societal inequalities have caused friction and fracture within our urban neighborhoods.

I believe we must and can do better, by creating sustainable neighborhoods in which people feel valued. Here are six community improvement project ideas that I believe we should adopt as we plan, design, and construct our cities and towns.

  1. Build to Educate

We must pay heed to the ‘law of wages’, which says the more you know the more you will earn. Well-paid manufacturing jobs, which require no post-secondary education, have been in decline for several years. 

In their place, the U.S. economy has shifted toward service-sector jobs – in industries such as IT, finance, and health. These jobs require higher qualifications. Those with degrees earn appreciably more than unqualified employees.

What can we do about this? The solution is to ensure that we build high-quality education facilities in our most deprived neighborhoods, and fund them appropriately. It’s a long-term strategy, which requires government to practice what it preaches in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

As I discuss in our article ‘School is a child’s second home’, “a school is the beating heart of a community. It pumps out the lifeblood of a community’s future. If the children in a school aren’t treated to the best education they can get, a community will not prosper to its full potential.

  1. Build green

We also need to consider the affect that pollution is having on our communities. We should develop a greener landscape. One that helps to manage storm water (New York City’s green rooftops is an example) and in which we can grow fruit and vegetables for sale and distribution locally.

We should also utilize new technologies and materials to build in more environmentally friendly ways, with projects interrogated for their environmental credentials before being given the green light.

  1. Build sustainable transport systems

A greener landscape must be accompanied by a transport system that is fit for purpose. Introduce rapid bus transport, more cycle lanes, and other innovative transport solutions. Ensure that public transport takes priority over private vehicles, and that pedestrians can move around neighborhoods in safety.

  1. Build smart

We have the technology to build smart urban landscapes, using digital technologies to keep traffic flowing, improve public safety, increase efficiency of energy usage, and more. In New York City, for example, initiatives that use technology and IoT connected devices include:

  • Water management

  • Waste management

  • Traffic management

  • Navigation and mobility

The city has recently completed a huge traffic management upgrade, improving infrastructure, efficiency, and reliability.

  1. Build using our technological advantage

We are better placed to deliver vibrant, green, smart cities than we have ever been. Advances in technology (some of which I have written about in my article, ‘5 Emerging trends in the construction industry’) include modern construction methods such as:

  • Modular construction

  • 3D printing

  • BIM design

The construction industry is likely to be driven by technology as it seeks to adopt more sustainable practices, and ‘virtual construction’ allows us to build better, faster, and with greater quality and safety.

  1. Build with local community involvement

From planning through to completion, neighborhoods should involve the local community more fully. We can and should fund community growth by supporting local businesses. We can and should support small businesses by ensuring they are contracted on construction projects. We can and should foster programs like the Newark Land Bank to promote affordable and market-rate housing. 

By engaging the community in planning and building for the community, neighborhoods should benefit from becoming places in which their people want to live, work, and play. This will help to instill pride and belief, as we all become involved in building cities that boost neighborhoods and communities.

How to implement community project ideas

My experience has taught me that neighborhoods thrive when their people are involved. Local planners and city authorities may build for all the right reasons, but if the community is not involved it can feel like initiatives are something being done to them rather than for them.

Here are three things we should be doing with local communities if we are to boost our neighborhoods and deliver sustainable improvement:

  1. Identify the need – with the community

Sit down with community leaders and discover their most urgent needs. Allow people to share their views, concerns, and desires, and then help them prioritize these.

  1. Plan what must be done – with the community

With needs identified, enlist neighborhood representatives to help develop plans to move forward on the highest priorities. Brainstorm ideas that can be used to show immediate results and that help to engage the wider community in each project. Even small projects can have meaningful results.

  1. Develop a neighborhood alliance

Building better neighborhoods and developing positive communities cannot be achieved overnight. It requires a sustained effort in which pride and engagement grows. Therefore, it is necessary to build a committee which can be aligned to all neighborhood improvement projects. Progress will never be made in a straight line, but it is essential that progress is developed from within and that passion for improvement is cultivated.

2020 was a tough year, and many of the difficulties we endured have rolled over into 2021. However, we have the chance to look on our challenges as opportunities to do better and build better neighborhoods. To do so, we must think and act differently. 

We must be more proactive with our communities, and trust them to take the lead. People don’t destroy what they create. They nurture and grow it. 

To learn more about our commitment to build better neighborhoods in which community prospers, contact ACB Consulting.


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