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The Hope of Renewal…

Sustainable Land Development Initiative | Sunday September 5th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Terry Mock, SLDI Co-founder

By Terry Mock
Follow Terry on Twitter: @SustainLandDev

May 2009

Björn Stigson, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the world’s leading business organization focused on business and sustainable development, has an inspiring and challenging message of renewal for us all this spring:

 “What we have now is a rare chance to re-shape our world. I believe that we are living in a moment of history, that all around us a new industrial revolution is beginning…It will be clean because we know we cannot go on polluting as we have been and maintain functioning ecosystems…”

According to Stigson, the central message from the WBCSD’s four-year, $15 million Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) research project is:

“Unless there is immediate action, thousands of new buildings will be built without any concern for energy efficiency, and millions of existing, inefficient buildings using more energy than necessary will still be standing in 2050. Acting now means reducing their energy consumption and making real progress in controlling climate change.”

Green building already offers paybacks for up to $300 billion per year in the world’s major markets, however, to go beyond those payback-ready energy savings will require, “…integrated actions from across the building industry, from developers and building owners to governments and policy-makers,” the report stated.

In apparent answer to this global call for sustainable development, a proposed 41,300-acre eco-sustainable city called Destiny, founded by South Florida developer Anthony V. Pugliese III, would include its own electricity grid and a green technology-research center. However, a report released this week by the state indicated that the county’s proposal to change its comprehensive plan to allow large-scale developments in rural areas could result in urban sprawl.

Sustainable Greenfield Development – Sprawl or Solution?

Beyond Florida, this sometimes contentious debate is heightening throughout the country. Certainly development as it has generally been conducted over the last century provides those who argue on the side of government-regulated greenfield preservation. But assuming that the future of development can only hope to reduce its negative impact on the environment lacks imagination and does not reflect the existing knowledge and technology available that empowers us to not only preserve nature, but to restore ecosystems and successfully integrate people and nature rather than separate them in an ultimately unsustainable way. In fact, SLDI is in the final stage of formalizing a holistic system of best practices that are designed to enable the achievement of truly sustainable development – whether brownfield or greenfield.

Destiny, FL, on its surface, appears to represent just such an endeavor. It also represents a strategy for rural areas that could be an incentive-based land planning model for future sustainable development by allowing developers to buy development entitlements from nearby landowners to prevent development outside the proposed city. The objections laid out by the state jeopardize the overall Destiny plan to create a new type of living environment, according to Destiny Chief Operating Officer Randy Johnson. He called the state’s report unfair and an old-fashioned approach to growth management. “We’ve got to move (the state) out of the dark ages,” said Johnson.

SLDI’s just-released book, Behavior-Based Land Planning – by Donald R. Chance, Ph.D., introduces a powerful new approach to sustainability that was specifically created to reduce the current contentiousness between America’s culture of competitive individualism and planning’s egalitarian objectives. In the final analysis, if you believe in the concept of sustainability, planning programs must have both broad social validity and political acceptance to be effective.

Your participation and comments are welcome.

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