February 12, 2016

What does a ‘Sustainable’ Neighborhood Development Pattern look like: Past, Present, Future Fused Grids and Beyond

Time

1:40 - 3:00pm

Location

1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village

Speaker(s)

Gord Lovegrove, Associate Professor, School of Engineering, Sustainable Transport Safety Research Laboratory, The University of British Columbia

Abstract

Up until 100 years ago, we built, thrived, and died in walkable communities. Our collective efforts to further improve quality of life in our communities through mass-produced cars, under-priced energy, and post-war consumerism appears to have ‘back-fired’ at least in part. Certainly oil, gas, and auto industries have boomed, and raised workers standards of living and wealth; however, simultaneously, there has been collateral damage as economic, social and environmental in-equities have emerged that must be dealt with. And world leaders agree, as evidenced by efforts to kick-start global responses, including:

  • UN Our Common Future declaration and initiatives since the 1980’s;
  • UN/WHO Decade of Road Safety to address the enormous social and economic burden of fatal and serious injuries due to car crashes;
  • COP 21 Paris accords to address climate change;

In that context, this presentation begins with my general definition of what a ‘sustainable’ community should look like and provide for its residents, businesses, visitors, and future generations. Taking evidence from existing communities around the world, and using this definition reveals that a sustainable community is possible using a system-based, local context approach. It is not rocket science, but it does require strong leadership with a coalition of support. Moreover, the critical success factor is residents with a strong sense of community who take ownership and rally their leaders for change to get back to more walkable, healthy, and liveable communities!

The Fused Grid (FG) development design principles are the culmination of a global review of what works and what doesn’t to promote more walkable, sustainable communities that promote healthy, safe, connected, coordinated, and compact communities – reasonable quality of life for all residents and businesses, while not compromising future generations’ ability to enjoy the same. The FG principles start with human scale block sizes, overlayed with a green grid, ped/bike grids, and an internal vehicular grid made discontinuous by a central green, all contained within a replicable 16 hectare (40 acre) neighborhood module. High quality perimeter couplets and destination land uses are reachable within a five minute walk by residents. Various health, planning, safety, acoustic, emissions, social and economic studies support the FG principles. Discussions are underway with the World Resource Institute and other partners to design and construct demonstration FG neighborhoods to validate these studies, and confirm ways that future growth can be planned for in developing countries.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Lovegrove is professor of civil engineering and research lead at the Sustainable Transport Safety (STS) Research Laboratory, both at UBC’s new School of Engineering in Kelowna, Canada. He is often referred to by his colleagues as the ‘go-to’ applied sustainable engineering guy, due to his over 20 years of hands-on professional and volunteer experience in the areas of sustainable transport, safety planning, community land use and transport planning and design, and railway engineering with local, national, and international governments and NGOs. Dr Lovegrove is an author, contributor and expert consultant on sustainability texts used today by governments and universities across NA and around the globe from India to China. He has just returned from sabbatical in the EU working with sustainable community and transport safety researchers in the Netherlands, Greece, and Italy. His latest book on sustainable communities and transport – “Remaking the City Street Grid – A Model for Urban and Suburban Development” – is available from McFarland Publishers via amazon.com.

E-mail: gord.lovegrove@ubc.ca

Web Page: www.engineering.ok.ubc.ca/faculty/gordonlovegrove.html