Eco-Towns: Three Models of Green Urban Planning

ecotown in UK photo

Sutton, UK

Even as the British real estate market crashes with as much of a thud as the American one did, and even though local residents and some environmentalists are against them, the British government is still planning to build up to ten "eco towns" as utopian visions of carbon-neutral 21st century housing. The Guardian looks at three existing prototypes:

Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm

"Homes include rainwater harvesting and solar panels, and there is a vacuum-sorted underground waste removal system. Residents are given colour-coded biodegradable bags for their waste. Even the street lights are solar-powered. Sewage is processed to become gas to fuel cookers, buses and cars in the car pool. The sludge by-product fertilises a forest which is managed to provide wood to heat the houses. They are oriented to maximise natural light and to allow access to outside space which includes parks and footpaths throughout the development."

earthship in ecotown photo

Greater World Earthship Community, Taos, New Mexico

"Here, emerging from the desert, is a development of 130 homes with walls built from used tyres full of rammed earth, empty glass bottles and cans and recycled materials."

We would hardly agree that it is an eco-town, more like an eco-exurb, this is pretty low density.

TreeHugger on Earthships:
Earthships: Self-Sustaining Homes
Fleet of Earthships Lands in Brighton

vauban ecotown photo

Vauban, near Freiburg, Germany

" Nearly 50 per cent of households are car free, and car owners have to pay €18,000 a year to park in the development. Alternatives include a car sharing scheme and a tram line, for which car sharers get a free annual pass. Nearly 100 buildings produce more energy than they use, which is recycled into other areas and there is a wood-fired community power plant which supplies heating.

Social aspects of the development have been carefully planned and include a co-operative food store, a farmers' market initiative and a mothers' centre."

Our favourite.

TreeHugger on Vauban:

Freiburg Has Solar Flair
Ecocities of Tomorrow: A Visit to Freiburg
How to Build a Green, Car-free Community: Vauban
5 Alternatives to the Buy vs Rent Question