By Katie Crane
For all the fanfare, green buildings are often just “islands of sustainability”—excellent case studies in what’s possible, but ultimately unconnected to their surroundings. RMI’s Built Environment Team is partnering with an innovative California non-profit to change that.
IT’S APRIL AND RMI PRINCIPAL JAMES BREW is hard at work on a presentation for a fundraising event hosted the next day by the San Francisco–based non-profit Urban Re:Vision. As he double checks his slides, Brew explains why the green building community needs to step up its game a notch—and begin thinking not just of individual buildings, but in terms of entire city blocks and communities. Presently, more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas. If current trends continue, there could be as many as five billion people living in cities by 2030, according to a United Nations study. Clearly, Brew says, there’s a need for integrated planning.
In late August, Brew and other RMI staff members will be participating in a charrette with Urban Re:Vision to develop a framework for the ideal sustainable city block. The two organizations will hold additional sessions throughout fall 2008 to refine the framework with help from energy, transportation, engineering, architecture, design, and natural resource experts, as well as municipal officials. Once the basic requirements have been set, Urban Re:Vision will launch a competition in January 2009, challenging architects and designers to apply the framework to actual blocks…