Monday, January 3, 2011

Green Buildings and Transportation

The Chicago Tribune lately posted an article by Julie Wernau on the disconnect between the green building movement and the transportation impacts of development.  More and more, however, the development industry, local governments and other public agenicies and private sector players are recognizing that a key element of the carbon footprint of any building is related moreso to how people get to and from their workplace or other destinations than it is to the energy efficiency of the building itself.

A "green building" or neighbourhood in the middle of nowhere, far from services, transit, or in a transportation environment hostile to biking and walking, is no benefit to the environment.  It is important to build to new standards that require energy efficiency and minimize emissions from building energy use for heat, light, water use etc. More importantly though, a building houses people or workplaces, and how those people travel is more critical to the carbon footprint of our built environment.

Recently I sent in comments to the latest revisions on green building standards, mostly related to providing a more supportive cycling and walking environment.  The Tribune article goes one further to talk about location, location, location - the classic real estate mantra.  We need to locate buildings within or near to services and other destinations serving people (recreation, health services, entertainment etc.) so that they can walk or bike more often.  We need to connect residential density, commercial and workplace developments with transit services so people don't need to drive everywhere.  We also need to stop building on "greenfields" - cheap, undeveloped land distant from urban areas where the services and transportation network are already in place.

Read more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-1227-outlook-energy-index-20101227,0,202383.story

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