Does density build strong neighborhood bones?
By Scott Watkins
Density is an essential element to healthy sustainable neighborhoods. Yet the definition and perception of how density affects neighborhoods remains largely divided among its residents. Ask 2 or 20 people walking down the street, regardless of profession or academic background, what their thoughts are on density in their town and you are likely to receive contrasting viewpoints.
Often when my family gathers around the dinner table, the conversation naturally turns towards our community’s future. Before long, the subject of the conversation turns to how new city policies are transforming the fabric of our community. My family’s perspective varies as much as anyone!
The fact is our local, national and global populations expected growth continues at alarming pace. Our communities will have to absorb larger populations. In order for us to absorb the growing population, we will need all of our neighborhoods to shoulder the load and gain density.
Many within our community view this growth as a second baby boom the real growth in our communities is coming from the other end of our life spectrum, our aging adults (which is also a good thing).
This brings to light a fact that our growing population carries with it a complex problem. How do we reasonably, comfortably and sustainably accommodate more people?
The answer is to see increasing density as an opportunity for improving the quality of all residents’ lives. Higher density can improve residents’ lives and improve the health of the neighborhood directly and indirectly.
Direct benefits include residents saving money by being closely connected to services and community. Proximity to and close connections save money and time on travel, historically by car. Another direct benefit is an increased ability for residents to supplement income with adding rental units to existing property and small businesses having additional customers in...
Alice Sung testifies in San Jose.
Sean Hulen speaks in San Diego.
You know that old adage about showing up being some large percentage of the job? Well, the movement to get Prop 39 fairly implemented within California took to the road recently with Senator de León convening the Subcommittee on Fiscal Oversight and Bonded Indebtedness in San Jose and San Diego. USGBC California has been an early, active and enthusiastic supporter of Proposition 39, which will raise $2.5B over the next five years for public energy efficiency projects, and arranged to have accomplished representatives appear and testify at both hearings. While it will certainly take more than showing up to assure that funds are distributed wisely, we want to continue working with implementing legislative authors Senator de León (SB39) and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (AB39), Tom Steyer and Kate Gordon of the Center for the Next Generation and other stakeholders to realize the shared vision of improving existing school building performance across California, with special emphasis on previously under-served districts.
Prop 39 was favored by a strong 60% mandate of California voters this past November. We agree that zeroing in on targeted improvements within schools will demonstrate progress across a wide range of communities and keeps building on the public trust of stewardship and wise use of this special revenue source.
In the first hearing at San Jose’s sprawling Independence High, longtime Northern California Chapter schools advocate Alice Sung of Greenbank Associates zeroed in on the important link between healthy classrooms and learning. Speaking as a LEED AP, member of AIA, CASH, CHPS, AASHE, technical advisor to the State Architect and Department of Education Schools of the Future Program, but especially as a mother of two daughters enrolled in the public school system, Alice stressed the theme that where children learn matters. Beyond the societal benefits of lower environmental...
By James Qualk
On the morning of January 29, a podcast at RedState.org entitled “How Green Building Regulations Backfire” aired, inspiring this response. Though little was actually said about regulations, it’s important to address many of the inaccuracies and outright falsehoods presented in this piece, apparently for the purpose of confusing the general public.
The guest, David Williams, is president of the Tax Payers Protection Alliance and is asked by the host to speak about “faulty green building regulations,” “potential kickbacks to a ‘green building council’” and “how the regulations result in more energy use.” While the host and guest seem to have a good understanding of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) mission, describing it as providing a “voluntary, consensus and market driven certification process providing third party verification for green buildings,” the factual part of the interview ends there. Mr. Williams and the host then claim that “people are gaming the system” and that the “process is being perverted.”
“We’ve seen reports that that LEED buildings cost 15-20% more than a regular building,” says Mr. Williams, but the myth that green building costs more was busted and put to rest years ago (and here more recently). Every credible and independent case study I have seen indicates the pursuit may incrementally increase first cost by 1-2% (or more in some cases), but that many pursue LEED or green building with little or no added first costs. I am certain Mr. Williams is referring to “first cost” in this statement, and it’s possible that some LEED buildings have experienced a higher premium than expected. But a building project can experience increased first cost for any number of other reasons, and what Mr. Williams ignores, not surprisingly, is that the total cost of ownership is far greater than those associated with the procurement of...
The Siena Center in Redwood City, CA is a complete turn-key Platinum Level LEED certified facility designed to provide the community with recreational and educational activities focused on diadvantaged youth.
Today the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual list of the top 10 states for new LEED certifications in 2012, on which California ranks No. 9. However, it all depends on what you measure….
The per-capita list, which recognizes those states that are leading the way in transforming their buildings and communities and includes Washington, D.C., is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and reflects certifications for commercial and institutional buildings.
With 309,116,796 total square feet of LEED-certified space, and 0ver 54 million sq feet certified across 540 projects in 2012, California is by far the leader in LEED certified space. But the recent per-capita square footage metric gives other locales a chance to crow, too: California’s 1.46 square feet per resident last year, stands behind Washington D.C., with 36.97 square feet, and Virginia and Colorado, with 3.71 and 2.1 square feet, respectively. No matter who one slices it, California does continue to outpace recent business location rival Texas, which comes in at 1.43 square feet per resident.
“Across California, architects, designers, chapter leaders and everyday citizens are coming together to create the healthiest possible environments for working, living and playing,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, USGBC. “Making this list is a testament to their collective efforts to make sustainable building design and use a major part of the state’s discussion on the environment, and I applaud their tireless dedication to the mission of the green building movement.”
“Passion, education and dedication are the foundation of the volunteer efforts of USGBC chapters in California,” said Lorraine Alexander, Chair, USGBC Redwood Empire Chapter. “We are pleased and encouraged by the news...
January is a time of reflection for most – a time to ask what was great about the previous year (and maybe what was not so much). Many also ask themselves, “What will I do to effect positive change in the coming year?” When we look back on the last several years in the green building world, we see that a great deal of progress has been made: wider acceptance of LEED for new construction, green building codes implemented in California and elsewhere, global growth in green building, tremendous growth in renewable energy production, elevated focus and implementation of LEED on our existing building stock and much more.
Where do we (and the markets we serve) go from here? What types of advances in the coming years will drive this movement even further toward “every day practice” and ultimately, not just minimizing the negative impacts of our buildings and communities, but turning them into positive ones. Many exciting things are possible, even probable, and here are a few things I’m watching for this year:
Performance – The release of LEED v4 will be full of opportunities to manage performance. We can’t manage what we don’t measure, which is one reason why performance is what really matters in a building. Also, we tend to forget that measured performance is a data point and temporary, and that sustained performance takes continuous attention. So how do we stem the tide of performance decay? And why just Net-Zero, why not Plus?
Energy and the continued pace of the energy market’s transformation – How much energy does the world need, and how is that energy generated? In 2012 we saw dramatic growth in renewable energy generation, and all without a level playing field in the marketplace. Look for this trend to continue in 2013, and look for greater...
Today at the Ohio State House, teachers, school leadership and elected officials from across the state are gathering to celebrate the first 100 LEED certified schools. Ohio leads the nation with more LEED certified public schools than any other state, and hundreds more are on the way.read more
WASHINGTON, DC (Dec. 5, 2013) – Today, President Obama signed a memorandum directing the federal government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, more than double the current level.
Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, released the following statement:read more
Category: Event Published on: 4 Dec 2013 Feature image: Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy announced three Better Buildings Accelerator programs. USGBC Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Law Roger...
This week, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) welcomed nearly 25,000 green building professionals to Philadelphia for its 12th annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the world's largest gathering dedicated to green building.read more