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Compact Plans Could Lower Services Costs

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Compact Plans Could Lower Services Costs

Building higher-density communities with tighter infrastructure designs and community services can save significant costs, according to The Brookings Institution's Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy.


By Bob Sperber, Senior Editor April 30, 2004
This article first appeared in the PB May 2004 issue of Pro Builder.

Building higher-density communities with tighter infrastructure designs and community services can save significant costs, according to The Brookings Institution's Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. A March report by the center calls this "compact development."

From 2000 to 2025, the report says, compact development can save:

  • 11%, or $110 billion, on road-building costs.
  • 6%, or $12.6 billion, on water and sewer costs.
  • Roughly 3%, or $4 billion, on annual operations and service delivery.
  • Additional money on school construction.

Mark Muro, senior policy analyst with Brookings and the report's co-author, calls traditional subdivision development "inefficient in terms of service provision and infrastructure," and sees compact development as "the most efficient way to build." Builders should benefit from a share of the savings because they are increasingly expected to foot the bill for infrastructure.

The report, "Investing in a Better Future: A Review of the Fiscal and Competitive Advantages of Smarter Growth Development Patterns," can be downloaded at www.brookings.edu/urban/publications/200403_smartgrowth.htm.

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