In Search of a Tool to Support Planning inside Large Cities: the SustaIn-LED Model

Giuseppe Umberto Cantafio, Petros Ieromonachou
The aim of the present study is to investigate the linkages between local economic development, innovation, and environmental sustainability inside urban areas. Can innovation affect the improvement of the quality of life inside urban areas? This research question comes from the consideration that usually innovation and growth in general are considered sources of conflict in affecting the livability of large cities. The objective of the paper is to design a model — the “SustaIn-Led” - to connect levels of environmental sustainability, quality of life, and economic development inside metropolitan areas, taking into account also innovation processes, activated by the innovation policies and by the knowledge economy. The study takes in consideration the 53 largest United States metropolitan areas with a population over 1 million, with a time series from the years 2000 through 2015. This has been done because of a two-fold reason: (1) the US among high-income countries is the one with the highest number of universities, patents, and citations; (2) several studies have shown that innovation occurs in large cities. The first part of the present study has carried out the identification of the variables to represent and significantly explain the phenomena – local economic development, innovation, and environmental sustainability – linked to the design of the SustaIn-LED model. Environmental sustainability in urban areas in this paper is represented by means of the Air Quality Index (AQI), while the number of workers synthetically quantifies local economic development. Correlation and multiple regression analyses are conducted in order to examine the relationship between the three main indicators. The multiple regressions for the year 2015 produced a low p-value, indicating that the predictors are significant in the regression analysis. Similar results of p-value are shown in all the years from 2000 to 2013. For 2015, the results showed that part of the variance in the measure of total workers of the metropolitan areas could be predicted by measures of innovation and air quality. Higher R² values have been registered for the years from 2000 through 2013. The development of the SustaIn-LED model could be utilized in urban regeneration processes to help in the design of new urban planning policies inside large cities by means of a better comprehension of environmental and economic implications caused by the implementation of innovation policies.

Keywords

SustaIn-LED Model; Sustainability; Sustainable Development; City Planning

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