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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Kaidslist: the trendy Ins and Outs of smart growth & sustainability

Kaid Benfield

Posted February 15, 2011

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As I mentioned last post, I just returned from a strategic planning retreat with my NRDC colleagues.  Intense, but amiable and very productive.  Somehow, to top it off, my first day back at work in DC – yesterday – was spent in part assisting another organization’s strategic planning.  I’m not sure that’s the way I would have ideally conceived my schedule, but that’s the way it went down, and I actually enjoyed it, being a big fan of the organization.

My topic was “emerging trends and opportunities” in sustainable communities.  In the spirit of having fun by being provocative and tongue-in-cheek (but not entirely, heh), I came up with the following list, which I offer here for readers’ enjoyment:

Oklahoma City (photographer unknown, public domain)  Southern California (by: Calthorpe Associates, for Southern California Compass)

Out: cities -- In: regions

Out: carbon obsession -- In: holistic sustainability

Out: big cars -- In: streetcars

Out: green buildings -- In: green neighborhoods

Out: energy systems -- In: food systems

Out: “affordable housing” -- In: mixed income

freeways in Houston (photographer unknown, GNU free documentation license)  East Blvd, Charlotte (courtesy of Complete Streets Coalition)

Out: freeways -- In: complete streets

Out: exclusive -- In: connected

Out: building architecture -- In: landscape architecture

Out: demolition -- In: restoration

Out: Portland -- In: Paducah

front lawns (by: John Shappell, creative commons license)  front vegetable garden, Vancouver (by: Al Pasternak, creative commons license)

Out: lawns -- In: gardens

Out: new urbanism* -- In: old urbanism

Out: techno-green -- In: original green

Out: “gated community” -- In: public spaces

office park, Illinois (by: EPA Smart Growth)  Capital Bikeshare in DC (by: James D. Schwartz, creative commons license)

Out: parking lots -- In: bikeshare spaces

Out: HOV lanes -- In: road pricing

Out: expanding suburbia -- In: retrofitting suburbia

Out: stopping development -- In: shaping development

Out: drive-in -- In: walk-up

rooftop solar panels (by: Robin Murphy, World Resources Institute, creative commons license)  green roof (courtesy of American Society of Landscape Architects)

Out: solar panels -- In: green roofs

Out: 24-hour city -- In: 20-minute city

Out: Massive paving -- In: Master planning

Out: Built for speed -- In: Built for everyone

Out: park & ride -- In: walk & ride

Out: business district -- In: arts district

*(CNU friends, you know I’m just pulling your leg, right?)

The floor is now open for readers’ nominations of additional In-and-Out trends, of which I hope there are many.

Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page. 

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John BaileyFeb 15 2011 11:12 AM

Out: Vibrant -- In: Thriving
Out: Cash for Parking -- In: Parking Cash-out

MarissaFeb 15 2011 12:50 PM

Out: car sharing In: bike sharing
Out: nightlighting In: daylighting
Out: euclidian zoning In: performance-based/inclusionary zoning
Out: energy efficiency In: location efficiency
Out: triple bottom line In: quadruple bottom line
Out: recycling In: integrated waste management
Out: farmland preservation In: urban agriculture
Out: industrial engineering In: industrial ecology
Out: landscapes In: streetscapes
Out: strip malls In: strip tease ;-)

John BaileyFeb 15 2011 03:37 PM

I forgot the most obvious one:

Out: Smart growth -- In: Sustainable Communities

Grieg AsherFeb 15 2011 04:01 PM

Out: In & Out lists

Kaid @ NRDCFeb 15 2011 05:52 PM

Grieg: very meta of you. It reminds me of an adage, "I either am or am not trying to have it both ways."

Dan StaleyFeb 15 2011 06:13 PM

I, personally, prefer 'smart growth' over 'sustainable communities', because unless everyone radically changes just about everything in their lifestyles, we won't be sustainable. Why set goals and policies for unattainable things?


Jon ReedsFeb 16 2011 08:57 AM

I think I agree with Dan - over here in the UK "sustainable communities" tends to mean whatever the Government of the day's policies happen to be directed towards. A few years back we had a "sustainable communities plan" from the Government which aimed to increase housing sprawl and to demolish traditional terraced houses in traditional towns (among much else).
"Smart Growth" is becoming a recognised concept, so why lose it?
I'm most interested in your comment about "old urbanism" however. I suspect that UK cities reached their most sustainable round about 100 years ago. They were compact, you could walk to school, shops and very often your workplace, people moved by tram or train, goods moved by rail, water or horse and cart and there was a strong sense of community.
Sadly it all ran on unsustainable coal, of course, but there's no reason it couldn't have been adapted to do without that, as we're (slowly) learning to do.
We need to relearn those lessons.

Kaid @ NRDCFeb 16 2011 10:48 AM

I can't help but note that some of y'all are taking this fun exercise awfully seriously. ;) Not that you're making bad points, BTW.

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