How can we build our homes and communities so that they co-exist harmoniously with Nature? What does it mean to create a sustainable house, a sustainable community, a sustainable city? For each additional day that we live, design and build unsustainably, we pull another fibre out of the fabric of Earth’s ecosystems.

Sustainable Community Planning

An Incomplete Checklist for New Settlements

Unless we are guided by a conscious vision of the kind of future we want,
We will be guided by an unconscious vision of the kind of present we already have.

Overall goal
A traditional settlement which will enable its residents to enjoy a strong sense of community and a high quality of life in a prosperous post-industrial economy, and to pursue ecologically sustainable lifestyles in harmony with the natural world.

Urban Design
__ Traditional neighbourhoods, modelled on pre-1920s town designs
__ Neighbourhood centre with village greens, shops, businesses
__ Pedestrian environment where possible & feasible
__ Conscious emphasis on creating a strong sense of place (Pattern Language)
__ Houses within 5 minute walking distance of a village centre
__ Houses close to street; front porches to encourage conversation
__ Pedestrian-friendly, narrow, slow streets, or car-free streets
__ Back lanes for car access where possible
__ Parking off to one side of the village with car-free village centre
__ Town centre for cultural, artistic and business activities.
__ Design Code lays down architectural and energy standards

Cultural, Social Infrastructure
__ Meetings with local community groups before planning commences.
__ Design Principles to guide the project.
__ Socially inclusive, residents of all ages and incomes.
__ Community thinktanks with future residents and local professionals.
__ 5% of units wheelchair accessible.
__ Tot-lots and community parks within each neighbourhood.
__ Early discussions about resident involvement, self-government

Ecological Protection
__ Biodiversity study and inventory of site, to show areas to be protected.
__ x% of the site set aside as park space, or private land under ecological covenants.
__ x% of each single family lot soft landscaped (no gravel, bark mulch, concrete)
__ x% left under native species
__ Standing snags/wildlife trees wherever possible (Landscape Code)
__ Educational package to encourage organic horticulture, integrated biological pest management
__ Tree protection bylaw for all trees over x" diameter at chest-height
__ Zero-increase in storm-water run-off; retention and infiltration design
__ No asphalt roads or roof shingles (toxic run-off)
__ Ecological site analysis for each lot; lot-specific site clearance and preparation requirements
__ Builders' Site Code to protect sites during building
__ Environmentally responsible building course for builders and site workers

Energy Management
__ Active and passive solar design
__ Community utility to operate demand management strategy
__ Bulk-rate purchase from local utility for resale with energy-saving incentives
__ Overall energy-demand quota for each building
__ Intelligent-house wiring to encourage peak-shaving and load transfer
__ Program run by utility for purchase of solar systems, energy-efficient appliances
__ E-Star Program to encourage use of building materials with reduced embodied energy.
__ Wind; Ground-source energy supply (water & ground)
__ Combined Heat & Power - District-heating - Cogeneration)

Resource Conservation
__ Tertiary biological sewage treatment
__ Community composting plant
__ Pre-entry source control program for liquid waste stream
__ Community utility; water rates set to encourage conservation
__ High water efficiency standards for all homes, toilets, appliances
__ Water recycling where feasible, and acceptable - dual plumbing
__ Ecological features (eg wetlands, forest trails)
__ Xeriscape garden design guidelines to reduce outdoor water-use
__ 3-bag user-pay recycling system (wet, dry, non-recyclable)
__ Waste reduction at source (eg non-wrapped bulk purchasing)
__ Business education and waste-stream auditing by community waste utility
__ Community resource sharing possibilities (cars, tools, equipment)
__ Building permits conditional on construction wastes recycling plan
__ Recycling and composting areas in into all buildings
__ Construction waste recycling system

__ Maximize local growing space, allotments
__ Permaculture considerations
__ Organic link-up with local growers to provide food for residents

__ 'Future economy' seminars, to determine key sectors
__ Development & construction.
__ Housing components : furniture, cabinets, doors, windows, crafts.
__ Environmental technologies park
__ Telecommuting, satellite offices & computer services
__ Community services, Retail. Includes many home-based businesses
__ Education/ecotourism
__ Artists, sculptors, coop facilities, galleries.
__ Human resource development & consultancy
__ Community business network; business development coordinator
__ Social/environmental responsibility Business Code
__ Training & business development circles
__ Co-business initiatives (eg woodworking, software)
__ Eco-sustainability advice for businesses
__ Annual environmental audit & 'Green Seal' for approved businesses

__ x% reduction in external trips through urban design (local schools, shops, businesses).
__ Neighbourhood & streets designed to encourage transit
__ Cycling & pedestrian design
__ Community minibuses, electric golfcarts
__ Community carpool
__ Telecommuting strategy
__ Car-sharing co-operative
__ Transportation administrator coordinates carpool, transit, worksharing, telecommuting.

Affordable Housing
__ Innovative approaches to affordability.
__ Affordable housing resource book with 'how to' plans (eg) :
__ Growhomes (start small, grow later) __ Self-build and self-build cooperatives
__ Coop, cohousing __ Clustered housing, car-free space
__ Secondary & granny suites for rent __ Charlie-houses' (easy-to-convert)

__ Introductory welcome for new residents
__ Parent participation in school concepts and design
__ Local elementary schools; high school
__ Smart schools (on-line links to global networks and databases)
__ Tree-covered play areas for environmental education and UV protection
__ Student participation in community organizations, businesses, non-profits
__ Distance & satellite college learning through world electronic community
__ Courses, workshops, trainings in environmental/sustainability issues

Building Materials & Design
__ Exploration of possibilities for innovative designs
__ Building design review & approval process to maintain standards
__ Building guidelines for aesthetic, siting and environmental issues
__ E-Star environmental building rating for low impact/healthy housing (cf Austin, Texas)
__ Individual lot-plan provided with ecological and house-siting information
__ No urea-formaldyhydes, HCFCs, petroleum-based paints and floor finishes, vinyl siding
__ Environmental accreditation program for builders with local college
__ Resource book about building choices, embodied energy, resource conservation and human health
prepared for distribution to residents, designers and builders.
__ Local building supply store with environmentally sound alternatives.

Community Intelligence
__ Fibre optic telecommunications grid providing greatly increased bandwidth
__ Joint venture with local telecoms company
__ Telecommuting, teleconferencing, satellite offices, home-based revolution
__ Electronic town hall meetings (cable TV link-up)
__ Telegovernment links to region, state, nation, NGOs, UN agencies
__ Community cable TV; FreeNet
__ Global conferencing facilities

The Arts
__ Arts Forum for planning with local arts community
__ Register of Artists to facilitate inclusion in contracts
__ Inclusion of sculptors and artists in the architectural design process.
__ Small, multi-purpose, open-air performance spaces
__ Inclusion of artists in design of walls, trails, etc
__ Town centre coop space for working artists
__ Low-cost live/work space for artists

Long-Term & Regional Sustainability
__ Community goals (eg CO2 reduction)
__ Sustainability indicators; annual assessment and review

Legal Framework
__ Sustainability zoning conditions
__ Use of Registered building schemes
__ Use of Development permit zones
__ Density bonusing agreements
__ Specifically crafted by-laws
__ Use of covenants

Guy Dauncey
Sustainable Communities Consultancy
395 Conway Rd, Victoria V8X 3X1, Canada
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

April 1995