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Kaid Benfield, Special Counsel for Urban Solutions, Washington, DC,

Kaid Benfield

Special counsel for urban solutions, NRDC; adjunct professor, George Washington University School of Law; co-founder, LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system; co-founder, Smart Growth America coalition; author of several books on smart growth and sprawl.

Attorney, recovering litigator, cyclist, blogger, dreamer. Kaid’s latest book is People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think about Greener, Healthier Cities.

Follow Kaid on Twitter: @Kaid_in_DC.

Recent Posts

City issues are environmental issues. Here's why.

Posted September 11, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Living Sustainably, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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   Cities need nature, as I wrote in an earlier essay.  But what is not so well understood is that nature also needs cities.  There is simply no way we can protect and maintain a beautiful, thriving, natural and rural...continued

Is it time to change the narrative about Detroit?

Posted September 5, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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   However improbable it might have seemed twenty, five, or even two years ago, Detroit could well be on the verge of a major turnaround that could make it one of the biggest success stories in urban America over the...continued

The daunting challenge of unwalkable America (excerpted from People Habitat)

Posted September 2, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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  (Today’s article is excerpted and adapted from the 2014 book People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, distributed by Island Press.) This won’t be breaking news to most readers, but Americans don’t walk very much.  Periodically,...continued

Why San Francisco, New York and DC may be more affordable than you thought

Posted August 25, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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  Highly enlightening new data from the New York City-based Citizens Budget Commission demonstrate the immense importance of walkability and transit in shaping how affordable large US cities are for a range of household types.  When typical housing and transportation...continued

What the latest housing data mean for the environment

Posted August 1, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Living Sustainably

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   Few things have been as simultaneously destructive to the natural environment, the economy, and our social fabric as the tidal wave of suburban sprawl that washed over the US in the late 20th century.  Driving rates and related emissions...continued

What we like - and don't like - about our cities

Posted July 29, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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    American city dwellers place a high value on their cities’ food offerings, from restaurants to farmers’ markets.  We also love historic buildings and good public spaces.  Traffic, not so much.  These findings are from a new study released...continued

Meet the original 'High Line'

Posted July 14, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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    New York’s City’s hugely successful and justly celebrated High Line wasn’t the first elevated urban railroad bed to be converted into a much-loved linear park.  Today, as we mark the national holiday of France, let’s also pay tribute...continued

Moving beyond "smart growth" to a more holistic city agenda

Posted July 8, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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   I have spent most of the last twenty years working on an agenda grounded in, for lack of a better phrase, “smart growth.”  That agenda basically holds that our regions must replace suburban sprawl with more compact forms of...continued

Agriculture Department to demonstrate green infrastructure, organic farming in DC 'outdoor museum'

Posted June 27, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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    Heirloom and Pollinator Garden at USDA headquarters One of the more thoughtful landscaping undertakings I have seen will be installed over the next fifteen years on, appropriately enough, the grounds of the US Department of Agriculture headquarters in...continued

Mission-driven Mobile Market targets food deserts, underserved schools

Posted June 24, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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  It’s not unusual for a farmers’ market to dispense healthy, fresh produce by vehicle, moving from one location to another as the hours and days go by.  There’s one that sets up in a school parking lot in my...continued

Six ways that thoughtful community planning can help fight climate change

Posted June 4, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably, Solving Global Warming

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   It is almost a tautology to declare that our future, and that of our children and their children, depends on how we shape our communities for the 21st century and beyond.  Here in the US, we’re going to be...continued

Pedestrian safety leads to more walking, or is it vice versa?

Posted May 30, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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  As a nation, we Americans don’t walk very much, especially compared to residents of other countries.  Nationally, we take only about ten percent of our total trips by foot, while we take 83 percent by car, truck, or van. ...continued

What makes a good Main Street work?

Posted May 27, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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  Last week I participated in a terrific conference called From Main Street to Eco-Districts: Greening Our Communities, hosted by a chapter of the American Institute for Architects in Corning, New York.  Held a block off of Corning’s own, magnificent...continued

Older buildings, continuity of place, and the human experience

Posted May 19, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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  I have been trying trying to understand what makes historic places special to so many of us.  Part of it is that they are relatively rare in the United States, I guess.  For several decades our newer everyday architecture...continued

How reinventing university-city relationships can boost communities' sustainability (guest post by Lee Epstein)

Posted May 12, 2014 by Kaid Benfield in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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  Nearly from time immemorial, a scholar’s relationship with the place where his or her learning occurred was a fraught thing.  From the Middle Ages when universities were invented, the recipe inherently made it so: take a young person, plop...continued

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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