Florida's suburban housing boom was fueled by low gas prices, and now those developments are hard-hit. While it's a little late for elected officials to put the brakes on far-flung projects that resemble ghost towns, local governments must start insisting on more sensible, less energy-consumptive models. These include mixed-use enclaves that combine work and home inside urban service boundaries, along with well-situated local transit grids that wean residents off single-occupant cars.
This touchstone book by James Howard Kunstler (author of The Geography of Nowhere)offers a vivid and uncomfortable vision of a post-oil future. As a result of artificially cheap fossil-fuel energy we have developed global models of industry, commerce, food production, and finance that are now threatened with collapse. Building on his previous work analyzing American suburban (i.e., energy-intensive) lifestyles, Kunstler sketches potential outcomes that may result from our current dysfunctional economic and cultural patterns.
Slides and notes from a presentation at the 2006 Atlantic Planners' Institute Conference on how the assumptions behind planning decisions will have to adapt to the changing reality of energy.
A new report led by Urban Land Institute and Smart Growth America shows that urban development is both a key contributor to climate change and an essential factor in combating it. "The research shows that one of the best ways to reduce vehicle travel is to build places where people can accomplish more with less driving," said Reid Ewing, the report's lead author and a research professor at the University of Maryland.
Ashton Hayes, an affluent, sleepy Cheshire community of just 1,000 people, was unexpectedly transformed last year into a model for grassroots efforts to fight climate change. Aiming to become the first carbon-neutral village in the United Kingdom, Ashton residents have mounted an aggressive campaign that is equal parts competition and collaboration, replacing incandescent bulbs, installing solar panels, planting trees, and boosting their recycling.
In what is arguably the most important environmental bill in California since last year's Global Warming Solutions Act, SB 375 attempts to reduce global warming by addressing land use and transportation through better regional planning.
The critically-acclaimed 2004 film The End of Suburbia spurred hundreds of citizen groups and local governments across the U.S. and Canada to start thinking about preparing their cities for peak oil. The much-anticipated sequel, Escape From Suburbia (which premiered this June in Toronto), takes an updated look at what some communities are doing about energy depletion and the challenges that still lay ahead.
A glance at a list of America's fastest growing cities reveals quite a surprise: most are really overgrown suburbs. SustainLane's Warren Karlenzig looks at "Boomburbs," a new Brookings Institution book on the phenomenon, and how this next generation of suburban sprawl is impacting planning approaches for water, natural resources, air quality, traffic -- and sustainability in general.
Cities and developers in the UK have been asked to bid for the development of five new carbon-neutral, sustainably-powered "eco-towns" built on disused urban and suburban land. The family-oriented small settlements, each containing 5,000 to 20,000 homes, will be expected to have ample green spaces and good transport links with existing towns and cities.
Global Public Media's Andi Hazelwood interviews two leaders in the new and quickly-growing international "Transition Towns" movement: Rob Hopkins of TransitionCulture.org in the UK and Sonya Wallace of Creating a Sustainable Sunshine Coast (CASSC) in Australia. Sonya and Rob discuss their work on creating town Energy Descent Action Plans (EDAP), and the benefits and challenges of working with citizens, businesses and local officials on energy depletion issues.