This project examines the inter-related facets of climate, community, health, environment, and local economy. While the project focused on the proposed Da Vinci Science City project in Easton, the descriptions below provide an introduction to the various types of impacts to be potentially considered for any new development project.
Climate change effects can be seen most clearly with changing storm patterns and frequency, rising temperatures and water levels, increasing spread of disease, and the growing prevalence of asthma. These global consequences are the result of additive effects from years of individual projects and processes. Greenhouse gas emissions from new projects continue to contribute to climate change, so it is essential to examine potential climate impacts from every proposed project.
New development projects affect the way people in the community live their daily lives and can contribute to accessibility concerns, gentrification, displacement, and community engagement. Well-planned projects can minimize negative effects and ensure environmental justice. Each new project provides an opportunity to engage the citizens, working to reflect the culture and concerns of the local community.
New projects influence both physical and mental health. The Health Care Council of the Lehigh Valley’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) identified the key influences as housing, air and environment, poverty, employment, education, and individual behaviors. After evaluating these determinants of health, they identified the top three health priorities as promoting healthy lifestyles, improving mental health, and improving child health. Regardless of the specific purpose of a project, it needs to consider its potential impact on each of these areas.
As human actions continue to destroy global ecosystems, and international corporations and governments continue to obstruct progress towards renewable energy and environmental education, it becomes increasingly important to mitigate local and global adverse impacts on the environment. In addition to reducing its own impacts, DVSC can have a positive role in promoting environmental awareness of deforestation, local emissions, stormwater, biodiversity, embodied carbon, recycling practices, and waste.
Development projects can have impacts on local businesses, employees, residents, and visitors. They may increase local spending on recreation, lodging, and services; however, they can also redirect spending away from local businesses and existing establishments. A comprehensive sustainability assessment examines ways to enhance rather than weaken the local economy, and integrates principles of sustainability in both local and global communities.