Policy and the Built Environment aren’t the sexiest of topics to address, but they are among the first things mentioned when looking to improve the health of communities. Throughout his tenure, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has prioritized innovation and workmanship, topics that apply directly to those two facets. In issuing a continued call to action, if the most dramatic impact is to be made, focusing on the beginning of the process, with the Code of Ordinances, has to be a priority.
Innovation became a theme during this administration, highlighting many tasks that must be done throughout the city, but with new and better methods. To improve the workmanship within the built environment, it begins with the requirements of new construction. Certainly, going through the process of fulfilling code requirements epitomizes tasks that must be done.
As the County and others look at updating our codes and zoning ordinances, we should look to address the topics that push design, rather than the other way around. Fundamentally, energy efficiency and sustainable building practices have been well documented, have proven performance metrics, and are outlined to fit to such a format. At this point, with so many cities utilizing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) as a baseline for building code, improvements like this can hardly be called innovative. On the other hand, with so little LEED design being done in South Bend, it has the potential to considerably improve the building stock/built environment of the community.