Active Open Spaces

Active Open Spaces

Active Open Space Can Contribute To Community Wealth And Health

An integrated and efficient design can maximize open space on the site. By prioritizing active open space, like public recreation and on-site food production, we can create social and health benefits, as well as economic gains.

What are the benefits?

While open space is often talked about for its aesthetic and recreational benefits, it also proves to have distinct economic value in metropolitan areas. Among these values are: the promotion of both consumptive and non-consumptive uses of open space, the preservation of public goods that fiscally impact residential community development, and the increase in the value of surrounding real estate.

Consumptive uses may include, for instance, the use of open space for food production; non-consumptive uses may include the maintenance of community green space for recreational activities, like photography. The preservation of urban open space generates a notable fiscal impact in the surrounding community. One study found that for each residential unit constructed, an urban township will bear a cost of $1,886 per year, while the preservation of open space requires only the upfront cost of $3000. Finally, if the open space is well-integrated into the neighborhood (not intensively developed for recreational purposes, then it remarkably increases the local tax base. Thus, open space carries fundamental importance in the re-industrialization and community development process.

Open Space and the ARISE Vision

The ARISE vision for the preservation of urban open space incorporates both passive and active land uses. While active land use (practices such as urban food production) requires intensive maintenance and prudent resource management, passive land use requires less maintenance and can frequently be more effective at carbon sequestration.

The preservation of open space in urban and residential areas offers a passive space for carbon absorption, promotes community development through the use of public property, and introduces commercial industry through on-site food production. Primarily, open space provides a material basis for carbon sink in an urban environment. Although open space preservation varies depending on where it is implemented, studies find that open space preservation in the form of green roofs, sustainable urban agriculture, and prudent water management practices provides a substantial source for carbon sequestration. In addition, preserving open space promotes community development through the use of public goods and by increasing the value of surrounding real estate. Finally, ARISE’s open space vision incorporates on-site food production through urban agriculture that utilizes intensive year round farming techniques. Thus, the incorporation of open space is fundamental to the ARISE vision for community development.

Passive Open Space: Carbon Sequestration

Although passive land use preservation varies depending on the urban space, experts agree that passive green space in the form of extensive or intensive green roofs and community/display gardens can provide a substantial source of carbon reduction. Broadly speaking, studies find that less maintenance usually correlates with greater carbon reduction capacity. The degree of carbon reduction depends upon the biomass (number of trees, shrubs etc.). Although grass can absorb a significant amount of carbon, mowed green space can actually serve as a carbon emitter. ARISE’s vision for maintaining open space is a matter of striking a balance between carbon reduction through local food production and sequestration through passive land uses.

Active Open Space: Local Food Production

The ARISE vision for open space implements active consumptive land uses such as on-site food production. Even though using open space to grow food on site will increase the energy intensity (and potentially, the carbon emissions) at any given site, local food production benefits the community in many ways. In addition to providing a direct resource for nutrition and food security in the community, local food production can stimulate the local economy by lead creating new jobs and encouraging both industrial and commercial use of local resources. It further encourages proper land use management and enhanced technology, and creating more environmentally friendly waste-management practices. Lastly, a growing amount of evidence reveals that when food is processed and consumed close to where it was produced, more wealth is maintained in local communities.

Agricultural practices will bear a remarkable impact on the ecological environment of the site. Sustainable farming practices (such as the use of hydroponics systems in indoor hoop houses) can lower the carbon emissions on site, while other agro-ecological tactics can combine the advantages of passive and active land uses while creating both commercial and aesthetic value for open space.

The ARISE vision for local food production links both indirect and direct marketing of food produced on-site. Through indirect marketing, consumers would access local food through commercial restaurants and whole-sale grocery stores. Conversely, direct sales would take place in the form of community-supported agriculture (CSA) and farming cooperatives. While the former stimulates commercial development in the surrounding community, the latter generates higher profits and lowers the cost to consumers.


Preserving urban open space can lead to economic and community development, alongside green re-industrialization. It is therefore a fundamental component of the ARISE vision. The ARISE approach to maintaining open space includes both passive and active land uses, and offers a mixture of benefits, including stimulating economic growth and encouraging community development, while simultaneously decreasing carbon emissions. Open space is key to ARISE’s three key priorities to decarbonize, equalize, and revitalize and it serves as one of the central vehicles to obtaining this vision for community development.