Monday, September 29, 2008

Land Use Regulation Necessary For Green

Sustainlane has determined that Portland, OR is the greenest city. Why? Because of the progressive land use restrictions and urban growth boundaries established in the 1970s. "That’s "City-planners in Portland have been thinking green since the 70s, when the rest of the country was still embracing the strip mall. The city enacted strict land-use policies, implementing an urban growth boundary, requiring density, and setting a strong precedent for sustainable development." In addition to "green building" regulations, strong land use regulation that limits sprawling suburban development is necessary to make communities green, as is support for effective infrastructure and public transit. Without these supports for green buildings, all that is going to be developed is more auto-dependent green sprawl.

1 comment:

Stephen Lacy said...

First off I would like to thank you for increasing the awareness about the environment through your blog. I only recently stumbled upon your blog, ‘Green Building Law,’ and already I have found myself frequenting your blog quite often.

In regards to Portland, OR and its continuing excellence in the realm of sustainable development, I was wondering if you had any thoughts or experience about the role of local governments in cities across America and their responsibility/ability to demand a higher level of sustainable development. The way that I see it, from the developers point of view, is that money talks and in order to keep a development business afloat you have get projects approved and make money. The fact of the matter is that you could have a great ‘green’ development plan, but when you sit down in front of your investors, they’re going to want to maximize profits and mitigate risk.

The problems I see arising in California are that there are many well intentioned developers that talk about building LEED certified buildings, or toss around the ideas of creating a more walk-able, mixed-use communities but when it comes down to the bottom line many developers wont spend the extra cash or are not willing to take a risk on an unproven ‘trendy’ style of community. This is where I see local government bodies, such as the City Planning Commission the Board of Architectural Review, being key players in progressing our society towards more sustainable living.

I have seen first hand how a City Planning Commission can stop a project dead in the water because of potential ‘misfortunes’ that may burden the surrounding community (i.e. not enough parking spaces). Portland, OR seems to have figured it out, most likely through having a well-educated and active community that participates in local government. Unfortunately the majority of the cities across the nation do not follow the model of Portland, and until we figure out a solution, the majority of City Planning Commissions will continue to be saturated with arguments over rooflines and style of architecture.

In the upcoming weeks I hope to continue to explore ideas about creating a sustainable developments through my blog The Green Solution.