Environment

Can Suburbia Be Sustainable?

Suburban design is overdue for a renovation (image: courtesy C Sessums)

Suburban design is overdue for a renovation (image: courtesy C Sessums)

Big houses, big lots, big SUVs – you know the drill.  Suburbs create pollution, make people drive everywhere, and use up way more space than they need.  Can they ever be truly sustainable?

Well, I don’t know, but there’s a trend that’s moving in the right direction, and its popularity is growing.  Over at the Urban Times, I profile two specific designs for sustainable suburbs:

Micro-communities:

…made with a long list of recycled and sustainable materials. The plumbing, electric and heating are all designed for maximum efficiency, including low-flush toilets, on-demand water heaters and energy-star appliances… Driveways are shared, meaning less space is needed overall. Likewise … private green spaces tend to be small gardens and rooftop terraces rather than sprawling lawns.

And Pocket Neighborhoods:

…eight cottages surround a large green area which takes the place of individual lawns. The outdoor area is free of traffic and passer-by, making it a particularly safe place for kids to play… [and] the shared space acts as an incubator for community, allowing kids and adults to interact in a safe space.

Check out the full article for more, including a bazillion or so links to resources, documents and other articles. What are your thoughts on suburbs – can we make them work, or do they have to go? What factors are most important when you decide what kind of neighborhood to live in? Leave a comment below!

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