Putting the Green Back in Community Development

Kaufmann Urban Design image

photo: Michelle Kaufmann

There is certainly a stigma attached to community developments. I mean where do I start? Building a mcmansion an hour away from work only to spend your life sitting in traffic. Building more house than you need, wasting supplies and sucking up energy. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, community living can be greener than you think.

Acclaimed green architect Michelle Kaufmann is now trying to parlay her success with prefab homes into green community living in her new white paper Embracing Thoughtful, Walkable Neighborhoods. Green communities are critical to changing the face of American growth because currently "if everyone in the world lived in a style similar to that of an average American, we would require three Earths to support the demand on our natural resources," says Kaufmann.

In the white paper she designs a road map for the future of green development. It's put simply with her 10 EcoPrinciples for Communities. These principles include smart design, energy efficiency, water conservation, reducing waste, creating a healthy environment, diversity, smart location, respecting the land, smart auto strategy, and sharing resources. Read a detailed description of each EcoPrinciple.

By building green communities close to urban areas thereby reducing the dreaded sprawl, she asserts that we can change the green image of our generation. Additionally, Kaufmann's building methods reduce consumption, waste, costs, and building time by between 50 percent and 75 percent over conventional building methods. These modular homes come in several configurations or you can choose a custom made green home.

If more architects, urban planners, and designers would start to see the importance of not just green home construction but creating self-sustaining communities as well it would really have a green impact on our future development. Communities like this not only lend themselves to sharing resources like organic gardens, playgrounds, and mass transit but they also create a healthy atmosphere that improves air quality, makes exercise easy, and decreases the stress that goes along with a long commute.

More on Smart Growth:
Eco-Towns: Three Models of Green Urban Planning
Nagoya: City Planning For The Car-Free Future
Gaia, Asheville's First Green Community Weathers the Economic Downturn

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