Worldchanging on Green Urbanism

Worldchanging has been posting a lot of thoughts on how green urbanism can build resilience.  Four recent posts that I thought were interesting are:

1) Alex Steffen on De-Industrializing the City

One of my favorite quotes by Bjarke Ingels:

“Engineering without engines. We should use contemporary technology and computation capacity to make our buildings independent of machinery. Building services today are essentially mechanical compensations for the fact that buildings are bad for what they are designed for—human life. Therefore we pump air around, illuminate dark spaces with electric lights, and heat and cool the spaces in order to make them livable. The result is boring boxes with big energy bills. If we moved the qualities out of the machine room and back into architecture’s inherent attributes, we’d make more interesting buildings and more sustainable cities.”

These are all ideas very much at the core of green building, but there’s a focus here that I think is important: that sustainable cities involve removing machines designed to do ecologically stupid things, and that new technology should reorient the city around the human body.

2) Jay Walljasper writes about His Favorite Neighborhood

Last year Project for Public Spaces and I published the Great Neighborhood Book, which offers hundreds of ideas from around the world about making community improvements on issues ranging from crime prevention to environmental restoration. Since then almost everyone I meet asks: What’s your favorite neighborhood?

3) Sarah Kuck writing about a new NRDC report that claims Walkable Neighborhoods Key to Stable Real Estate:

Looking at data from more than 40,000 mortgages throughout Chicago, San Francisco and Jacksonville, Fla., the researchers behind the Location Efficiency and Mortgage Default report found that the rate of mortgage foreclosure actually decreased in neighborhoods that were more compact, walkable and connected to public transportation (after accounting for important factors like income).

4) and Climate Plan Must Include Walkable Urbanism

Without directing future development toward walkable urbanism, the climate impacts of sprawl will overwhelm other efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, said Robert Cervero, a professor specializing in transportation and land use policy at UC Berkeley. “Urban development patterns have a significant role to play in carbon reduction,” Cervero told the audience. “Otherwise we’ll just get knocked back by land-use patterns. Sustainable urbanism has to be part of the equation.”

The benefits of walkable development extend far beyond the efficiencies of trains, buses, and bikes compared to cars. …

Cervero attached some rough numbers to these “embedded energy savings.” While transit investment alone can achieve a 10 to 20 percent reduction in America’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions, he said, factoring in the embedded energy savings of walkable development boosts that figure to 30 percent. That’s 30 percent compared to present-day emissions levels. The reduction could reach as high as 60 percent, Cervero added, compared to the level of per-capita emissions that would result from continuing business-as-usual sprawl-inducing policies.

2 thoughts on “Worldchanging on Green Urbanism”

  1. I know Alex and WorldChanging co-founder Jamais a little bit, and occasionally write for WorldChanging. I know co-founder Jamais Cascio has embraced resilience, and I believe Alex is also quite interested in resilience thinking. I enjoy worldchanging and a lot of Alex’s writing, but I didn’t think Alex’s critique of Transition towns was clearly thought out. I do think the transition movement is doing interesting things, and I am quite interested in it has been operationalising resilience concepts. I plan to write more about that in the future.

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