Solving Cities

New defense guidelines call for compact, walkable army bases

New defense guidelines call for compact, walkable army bases

Posting in Design

The Defense Department hopes to make car-centric bases 'walkable.'

Family members and their child care providers line up to sign a birthday banner, June 10, at Canby Field, Schofield Barracks. The banner, which was decorated with family photos, will be laminated and hung outside the Family Child Care office. (Photo: U.S. Military/Flickr)

American military bases could get a lot smaller -- particularly from the pedestrian point of view.

New planning guidelines, released by the Defense Department May 17, call for "compact development" strategy for U.S. military bases at home an abroad. This approach, the first design change in a quarter century, runs contrary to the car-centric layout that has dominated American military bases in the past.

According to Dr. Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of Defense for installations and environment, the goal of the policy change is to use land more efficiently. "We think it will improve quality of life, but for us it's also about doing our jobs better," she said at a forum on "Sustainable Installation Planning" at George Mason University May 17.

According to the Federal Times, the Defense Department currently manages 300,000 buildings across the world. As the nation's largest oil consumer -- Bloomberg reported that the U.S. military spent $17.3 billion in the 2011 fiscal year -- preventing urban sprawl on military bases provides the opportunity to mitigate transportation expenses during a period of fiscal constraint.

Building walkable urban spaces, as SmartPlanet readers know, also cuts traffic congestion, limits automobile accidents, and promotes healthy communities.

[Federal Times]

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Claire Lambrecht

Contributing Writer

Claire Lambrecht has written for the New York Times, Slate, Salon, The Nation, and CBS MoneyWatch. Previously, she taught English as a Teach for America Corps Member and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. She holds degrees from Cornell University, the University of Hawaii, and the Arthur M. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure