The BL Lab is rebuilding more active, resilient and healthy communities by exploring alternative land use strategies.
The BL Lab believes that an abundant and happy life for everyone begins and ends with our natural and built-environments. More than 50 years on from Rachel Carson’s seminal work Silent Spring, the real benefits of working, healthy natural systems are much better understood. Today, calculations of natural resource damages (NRD) and valuations of ecosystem services (ESS) are down to a science.
Yet, achieving perfect harmony between our natural and built-environments remains far over the horizon. Some of our greatest real estate challenges are only just beginning. From coast to coast, there are enormous opportunities to upgrade community resilience and capture real civic, social and economic value, while simultaneously overcoming some of today’s most pressing challenges from record-breaking forest fires burning communities down to historic flooding drowning communities out and economic transition draining communities lifeblood dry.
There is also tremendous low-hanging fruit in many communities that can make immediate impacts to community health and wealth. From cleaner water, healthier food and fresher air to the kinds of quality of space gains that improvements to stormwater management, upgraded pedestrian infrastructure and increased recreational/green space can provide—often by stacking multiple benefits into in the same project.
For some communities, these opportunities are also pressing needs as rising seas or stormwaters threaten homes, businesses and way of life. Industrial decline and economic stagnation are similarly existential threats facing many communities. And, for all its positive disruption, the incredible economic transition we’re experiencing today is creating new sources of stress on communities, pulling formerly successful shopping malls and golf courses under.
Beyond traditional residential, commercial and industrial development, the BL Lab cultivates alternative strategies to reposition greenfields, greyfields and brownfields. Brownfields usable for little else can be important resources to combat coastal erosion and climate change. Even tiny tactical interventions can have out-sized impacts on their community—such as this 2018 study that found depression could be more than halved in some neighborhoods by investing $1,000-$3,000 to green vacant lots.
Greenfield and Healthfield Strategies are often overlooked, but the BL Lab’s comprehensive approach gives strong consideration to the entire spectrum of possibilities in the wide gap that exists between greenfields and brownfields. A balanced built-environment is essential to a community's character and quality of place. In today’s technological world, old world charm and traditional formats are resurgent. As our level of digital engagement grows, so too does our desire for the quality, real world experiences we cannot get online.
These demand drivers can be the seeds of resurgence, giving growth to community development and economic development efforts simultaneously. Farmers markets, seasonal festivals and craft fairs have been pillars of civilization for thousands of years and they continue to give life to community and commerce across the world today. In rural communities searching for paths to growth, foodshed development is a strategy with wide upstream and downstream application from markets, food hubs, commercial kitchens, which can synergize with other incubator and maker spaces or stand alone as centerpieces of agri-culinary and agri-tourism strategies.
BL Lab Greenfield & Healthfield Focal Areas:
Work with the BL Lab to re-imagine your field of options:
THE BL LAB IDENTIFIES
Issues in the fields ⇒
THE BL LAB PRESCRIBES
FIELDS OF SOLUTIONS ⇒
Contact the BL Lab to schedule an introductory conversation about how greenfield and healthfield strategies can unlock your land's full potential.