Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eco-Planning: Redux

A lot has been happening in the eco-village/community/neighborhood scale in sustainability. Picking up some loose threads of a recent post on Eco-Planned Communities a few more recent precedents to round out the mix. Sherwood Energy Village is a model UK development with the simple tagline: "Delivering practical regeneration that won’t cost the Earth – A nice place to live, work, learn and play."

While rife with many practical applications of sustainable development, one interesting term is SUDS, or sustainable urban drainage system. From the SEV website: "SUDS deal with surface water run off from the roads and other hard surfaced areas. The water gently permeates or evaporates creating green corridors through the site and stopping any risk of flash flooding. The Energy Village has the UK's largest application of engineered SUDS, with all surface waters being managed on site."

:: SUDS - image via Sherwood Energy Village

Previously covered widely, (this via Jetson Green) the US town of Greensburg, Kansas suffered devastating losses due to tornado damage. It has since become the first city require all buildings bigger than 4,000 square feet to be LEED Platinum rated. It will be interesting to see if this approach works - not necessarily eco-planning but setting a standard target for all significant buildings. Plus it will cut down on the potential McMansions. Overall, from a community planning scale, even a modest one of 1500, it might be a better approach to adhere to LEED-ND standards if dealing with a community scale?

In Germany, the Solar City in Frieburg is a model example of solar-energy as the driving force in development. As part of the larger Solar Region, the goal is to maximize solar resources. It's interesting to note that Germany has similar sun days to the Willamette Valley region of Oregon, where PV panels are consistently poo-poo'd as not feasible due to lack of solar access. There seem to be a lot more of them showing up in recent years.

:: map of solar projects - image via Solar Region
Business Week recently offered the 'Rise of the Carbon-Neutral City', with numerous examples world-wide for sustainable development. These include, amongst others, a hydrogen-powered city in Denmark, BedZED, one of the first net-zero developments in the world, as well as examples from China, Canada, and Libya. From BW:
"The flurry of interest in environmentally sound planning and building has generated an ambitious crop of ├╝berefficient—even carbon-neutral—city and community projects. The ideas behind these green-tinged utopias go back at least to the 1970s and the birth of the modern environmental movement. But new projects around the world are banking on recently developed high-tech innovations, including zero-emissions transportation systems and sophisticated green building materials as well as humbler policies such as recycling."

A sampling of the projects:

:: H2PIA Hydrogen Powered Community, Denmark - image via BusinessWeek

:: BedZED, UK - image via BusinessWeek

:: Dockside Green, Victoria,BC - image via BusinessWeek

:: Green Mountain, Libya - image via BusinessWeek

I'm planning some more in depth features on a few of these, particularly Dongtan, BedZED, and Dockside Green. Another project from the article is Masdar, which was previously featured in L+U as the first net-zero everything community in the world. On a more theoretical side, a recent article in New Urban News highlights a concept for 'Cool Spots', which is a planning tool to define neighborhoods that are: "...compact, transit-oriented nodes that are both trendy and friendly to the climate."

:: image via New Urban News

In the same issue is an article by Andres Duany on knowing your audience. 'Who will opt for a green community?' targets four types of people that are constituents of the core group for 'eco-planning' activities. These include Ethicists, Trend-Setters, Opportunists, Survivalists, and the final group, the Apathetics. Why? To market to the specific goals and motivations of each group.

Duany, from the article: "New urbanists, Duany said, should have the prescience to ask themselves: Are you speaking to an ethicist, a survivalist, or a member of one of the other market segments? You can build the same project for people of differing outlooks, but you should present it differently, depending on the target."

The above projects show a variety of scales and offerings of 'green' communities, circumnavigating the globe. So I guess the question isn't which one, but rather, what are you waiting for?

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