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National Association of Home Builders Embraces Sustainable Land Development

Terry Mock, SLDI Co-founder

By Terry Mock
Follow Terry on Twitter: @SustainLandDev

August 2008

The July special issue of NAHB’s Builder magazine has a provocative double cover that features an illustration of a pristine earth on one side with the headline – “Can Builders Save The Planet?” On the flip side is a contrasting cover with artwork depicting the despoiled world made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The 11th Hour and the headline question asking – “Will Development Destroy The Planet?”

Builder’s editorial director set the tone of the magazine in More Than Enough by admitting that “Sustainable development may be in vogue today, but over-consumption has driven the market for the last two decades.” Builder’s editor-in-chief followed up by concluding, “If you haven’t started building sustainably, it’s time you did.” The subsequent articles all provide additional evidence of the dangers of growth gone wild, along with some encouraging signs that the home building industry is finally beginning to make sustainability a priority.

What’s particularly encouraging is that in embracing sustainable development, NAHB continues to broaden its original focus on homebuilding to now include a more holistic realization that “No House is an Island.” Builder stated that, “…where these homes are built and in relation to other things – will be just as important as what the homes are made of and how efficiently they operate.” This realization, of course, is also the intellectual battleground of the ongoing development industry debate – urban vs. suburban. While maintaining that we need to build places for people to live that minimize the impact on the ecosphere, Builder now admits that 92 percent of growth since 2000 has occurred in the suburbs, and an increasing number of jobs are migrating outside city limits. As stated by Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, an original founder of the Congress for New Urbanism, “Suburbia as we know it will remain.”

The admission that sustainable land development is essential, and that the suburban lifestyle will continue to be popular, is a healthy evolution of thought in the industry. SLDI salutes the efforts of the NAHB and we will continue to promote and enable sustainable land development – whether urban or suburban.

Your participation and comments are welcome.


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