Suitable housing placement: a GIS-based approach

Environ Manage. 2008 Nov;42(5):803-20. doi: 10.1007/s00267-008-9177-4. Epub 2008 Jul 2.


The intent of this paper is to operationalize some aspects of local sustainability in a suitable development scenario and to compare its energy-use and environmental impacts to trend development. After a discussion of suburban sprawl, local sustainability, and the current state of the Pennypack Creek Watershed in the Philadelphia metro region, these residential location scenarios are presented. The latter were created using geographic information systems software and are based on projections from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. The impacts of the scenarios on energy use, air emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, and biological integrity were estimated with very few data, and the effect on the value of generic ecosystem services was assessed. The suitable development scenario was 29% better in terms of energy use and air and greenhouse gas emissions, 2.4% worse on water quality, and 2.6% better with respect to biological integrity. Given its net beneficial results, recommendations for policies to engender suitable development are made, and an outline of an implementation plan is proposed. Thoughts regarding refinements of the present work and the applicability of the methods used here to other watersheds conclude the work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Energy Resources / methods*
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Housing*
  • Philadelphia
  • Water Supply / analysis*