What if the 'best solution' for the climate change challenge is better land planning? That's the theory of architect/urban planner Peter Calthorpe, who presented his research at the recent 18th annual Congress for the New Urbanism, New Urbanism: Rx for Healthy Places.
Calthorpe, a founder of the 'transit-oriented development' idea, is seeking to prove his theory by using metrics and software that can measure the impact on carbon emissions of denser development near public transportation hubs. His work comes as California grapples with Assembly Bill 32, which mandates a statewide reduction in carbon emissions. The new software Calthorpe designed models the carbon consequences of land use planning, transportation and new technologies. It was funded by Vision California, a project of the California High Speed Rail Authority. You can read details about Calthorpe's work in an article in Fast Company magazine.
It's not easy stuff for laypeople to digest, so part of the challenge is informing and engaging citizens about these crucial issues. That's the goal of a related Knight-funded project, Envision Bay Area, which seeks to increase the involvement of Northern California residents in pressing land-use issues. The grant will help launch an Internet, public radio, television and community information campaign so residents can better understand the policy debate surrounding land use.
Envision Bay Area, also supported by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, was one of 24 grant winners in the second year of the Knight Community Information Challenge, a five-year, $24 million contest that helps community and place-based foundations find creative ways to use new media and technology to keep residents informed and engaged.