I’m at an APA conference (Planner’s Training Service – Sustainable Zoning and Development Controls). As you might expect, it’s all about how zoning can impact sustainability (and vice versa). One of the best examples shared was about a new development in Colorado.
The new development was billed as being net zero – the community and community planners were clamoring for it! Super energy-efficient, beautiful new design, yay, let’s do it!!!
We looked at the plan. Net zero or no, this development was full of unsustainable characteristics. First, and perhaps most importantly, it was out in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, so you’re net zero while you’re at home…but what about driving 5 miles to the nearest town, or 15 miles to the nearest small city (and Wal-Mart)?
That’s not so good! Well, what if we could take transit? That would be better…but the nearest transit stop is at the corner of the community…and is separated from the community by a golf course. Nope, probably not taking transit.
Maybe I’ll go to my neighbor’s house. Nope, not happening either since the neighborhood is a series of disconnected cul de sacs.
At least I can go for a walk in the woods, right? Well…sort of. This is a Greenfield development that’s tearing into undeveloped land. And, unfortunately the golf course pushed the development into a critical wildlife habitat and very close to the blue ribbon trout spawning stream. Walking in the woods is going to be a bit limited.
This may be a net-zero development….but it doesn’t take away from the fact it’s still sprawl.