Restorative Development in a Metropolitan Area: Feasibility Study

Restorative Development in a Metropolitan Area

Over the past hundred years, American Cities have not been immune to the path of the linear ‘make, take and waste’ economy. Infrastructure systems such as water and energy were optimized in isolation to supply resources at the most affordable rate; and liabilities, such as waste, were discarded as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, as cities are faced with consequences of planetary distress, a global economy that is depressing local jobs and wages, and a social crisis of rising inequality and inequities, doing “business as usual” is no longer an option that can rise to these challenges.

Yorth was engaged by a major U.S. city to apply true-cost accounting at the whole-system level to uncover the potential of moving from a linear to a restorative model of urban development. If we could put a cost on externalities and economic leakages that are not measured in the current system, could a stronger case be made for rethinking how infrastructure and development policies should serve the city in the next 100 years?

Together with a stakeholder group of key city departments, utility companies, and businesses, Yorth conducted a comprehensive 9-month study to create a baseline performance assessment and help the partnership understand how restorative development and circular economic models can chart a pathway for the future.

Using Yorth’s proprietary Insights Platform, we scored the city across 2000 indicators in 12 key performance areas, ranging from resources, such as water, energy, food and materials, to mobility, land use, communities, and economy. Recognizing the connectivity between these sectors, we were able to identify the city’s assets and liabilities and demonstrate where equity was gained and lost in the system. This made a powerful case for a circular and restorative approach to infrastructure and urban development, where  closed resource loops generate wealth that can be shared equitably across the community. Future phases of this project will comprise the design and build-out of circular and restorative solutions.

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