Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today is Earth Day

1. Earth Day 2012 website.

2. According to David Smith of the Affordable Housing Institute, authors of the paper,"The Economics of Green Building," ran the statistics on commercial buildings across the country and found:

• Green buildings commanded rents roughly 3% higher than non-green buildings of similar age, location, and type.

• This premium was larger in 2007 than in 2009, but is still persistent despite the downturn.

• Green properties sell at a 13% premium to conventional, all other things being equal – meaning after controlling for location, Net Operating Income, and other rentability factors

So green building projects shouldn't get special zoning and financial incentives (other than investment funding for retrofitting, which is a different issue), as I mentioned in this blog entry, "Community benefits agreements and energy considerations," back in 2009.

3. On Thursday, I mentioned the environmental initiatives of Walmart, in association with the Environmental Defense Fund, and some of the problems this poses to local activists and the development and maintenance of local commercial district microeconomies.

4. In Washington, DC on the National Mall, the National Sustainable Design Expo is running through Monday, April 23rd. 300 college students are showcasing the solutions they proffered in response to the EPA Contest, "People, Prosperity and the Planet."

5. This article in the Toronto Globe & Mail, "These employers back Green Team initiatives," lists the various initiatives by companies and agencies recognized as Canadian leaders on environmental issues. There are a bunch of good ideas including how the YMCA of Greater Toronto has a funding program to invest in environmental initiatives, including generating electricity from exercise bikes.

This is another example of how sustainability as an issue seems to be a good way to re/engage citizens in "planning" when our traditional methods of doing so don't seem to be working out all that well in terms of civic engagement and empowered participation.

6. Next week, Mayor Vincent Gray of DC will be issuing DC's sustainability plan.

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