New Urbanism Is Dead

It’s time to move on and create a green land plan that and has never seemed to emerge in total.

Remember the first time you saw the master plan for Seaside, Florida? The street patterns drew you close to ask, "How does this community work?" Answers about front yard porches, a return to pedestrian scale, building setbacks and history began to tell an ‘authentic story’ of a slower and meaningful family lifestyle.


In the same spirit of ingenuity, we now have a chance to create land plans based on true green living. Like Seaside, it’s easier to start from scratch on raw land to get the full power of the concept. But unlike the principles set forth in new urbanism, the green land plan’s shapes and patterns will look unfamiliar based on locale. To make it ideal, land planners will need to string together a salient framework of green principles beyond the obvious solar orientation, water recycling, architecture and technology. Where is the creativity?

Mr. George King, a former Director of the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and now the developer of the new windgen hybrid low impact wind turbine is an important scientific resource for planners trying to envision what a green land plan might look like. Mr. King is an expert on renewable energy and believes that we should look back at the Native American Indians to identify some of the ‘natural gadgets’ this culture offers that have little to do with modern technology, but rather the positioning of objects in the landscape.

One fascinating example is heat sink islands, which helped stem the amount of natural hot air that blows across the southwest landscape in a very predictable manner. According to Mr. King, the Native American Indians perfected the concept of planting very dense stands of trees in one acre patches in the path of the prevailing winds to collect the heat and transfer it upwards - away from their settlements. This process, repeated several times within the primary breezeway often caused a ‘natural ventilation system’ that could reduce the air temperature by as much as 20 degrees. By using this exact same green land planning principle today as the backbone for a new community, electricity costs in some of the hottest areas of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Southern California could be reduced significantly.

Will new community developers be brave enough to fully explore and dedicate property in a beneficial way to create a true green land plan? If so, a new paradigm will emerge that is both familiar and unusual - like the first time you saw New Urbanism.

Rick Abelson

Online Land Planning, LLC


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  • 6/18/2008 6:35 AM George King wrote:
    Online Land Planning has an opportunity to redefine conventional planning cycles. This type of information exchange can and will produce the results that planners have tried with limited success, to instill in past efforts.

    I have spent 35 years in the energy business. During that time I have seen programs that were designed to produce high energy efficiency in residential and commercial applications fall short. In several cases this was the result of a planning cycle that lacked the dynamics to stay current with the evolving project. OLP has the format to change this common problem.

    Renewable energy is here to stay. We need to embrace the concept and make the application and management a fundamental layer of planning and design. When that happens, the latent and natural efficiencies of renewable energy will be realized.
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  • 6/18/2008 6:40 AM George King wrote:
    Change is something that people like to talk about and that's about the extent of what they do. OLP could become an engine of change.
    Reply to this
  • 7/9/2008 2:05 PM Kipp Gillian wrote:
    Great article,

    I live in Long Beach, California. A city with emmense possibilities but city leaders that seem to fail us every time. Cities that mesh with their environments serve their community better. Cities that have random developments loose all sense of themselves.

    Kipp Gillian
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