We have a tremendous opportunity to achieve economic, social, and environmental sustainability by promoting the shift from ownership to membership models. Membership models enable people to share resources they might have previously had to own. And while there is an emerging movement to share resources (in programs like Citibike or General Assembly), the city must do more to allocate new spaces to shared uses and foster the development of membership-based service models.

The city should build on successful precedents so that people can share not only apparel, tools, toys, and bikes, but space as well. Sharing space results in greater potential for interaction among people, reduction in material and energy use, and access to services that might be otherwise unavailable. New York City should incentivize property owners and developers to allocate a greater percentage of spaces to co-working, shared meeting and educational facilities, and incubators.

Shared spaces will only work if they use the right service model to recruit, support, and retain members—be they individual entrepreneurs, growing companies, or large universities. Therefore, New York City should provide expertise in service design, business modeling, and community management—three essential ingredients for successful shared spaces. Finally, New York City should explore opportunities for shared spaces to act as community hubs with access to shared goods and services, such as tool libraries in shared fabrication labs or business modeling in co-working spaces.

By encouraging the shift from ownership to membership, New York City can lead the way in the experience economy, creating opportunities for communities to interact, share resources and ideas, and achieve environmental sustainability.