High-density, compact development encourages building up instead of out, as well as placing the buildings where people want to be closer together. Mixed use development provides for retail, commercial, civic and living spaces to be located together.
A high density and compact building, such as a high-rise apartment building, occupies less space on the ground per capita than does a low-rise multi-building complex. Reduced building footprints mean room for more green space next to and around buildings. A smaller footprint also correlates with a small expanse of roof, which can make cooling a building and the area around it more efficient.
High density, mixed use development makes using sustainable forms of transportation such as walking, biking, or taking transit easier than doing so in a low-density environment. Transit systems require high levels of density to be effective, and walking and biking are more feasible when multiple locations are located within a close distance to each other. In addition, having a variety of products and services available in close proximity, reduces transportation needs.
These two principles, along with more efficient buildings, are the central foundation of sustainable development in an urban area such as Fort Lauderdale.
The City has a number of planning initiatives to address the importance of promoting density and mixed-use in order to create a successful and vibrant city center. Two examples are the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Master Plan and the South Andrews Avenue Master Plan. The Downtown plan concentrates dense development in the downtown area by introducing height restrictions to areas nearby. Concentrating the high-rise development in the downtown core, as opposed to having it spread out in much larger areas, is a major step toward achieving sustainability. The South Andrews plan encourages mixed-use development of residential and commercial buildings in order to create a lively and pedestrian friendly environment.