Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs
8.5 x 10
Full color, 145 photos, 32 illustrations
As world population grows, and more people move to cities and suburbs, they place greater stress on the operating system of our whole planet. But urbanization and increasing densities also present our best opportunity for improving sustainability, by transforming urban development into desirable, lower-carbon, compact and walkable communities and business centers.
Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley seek to demonstrate that a sustainable built and natural environment can be achieved through ecodesign, which integrates the practice of planning and urban design with environmental conservation, through normal business practices and the kinds of capital programs and regulations already in use in most communities. Ecodesign helps adapt the design of our built environment to both a changing climate and a rapidly growing world, creating more desirable places in the process.
In six comprehensively illustrated chapters, the authors explain ecodesign concepts, including the importance of preserving and restoring natural systems while also adapting to climate change; minimizing congestion on highways and at airports by making development more compact, and by making it easier to walk, cycle and take trains and mass transit; crafting and managing regulations to insure better placemaking and fulfill consumer preferences, while incentivizing preferred practices; creating an inviting and environmentally responsible public realm from parks to streets to forgotten spaces; and finally how to implement these ecodesign concepts.
Throughout the book, the ecodesign framework is demonstrated by innovative practices that are already underway or have been accomplished in many cities and suburbs—from Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm to False Creek North in Vancouver to Battery Park City in Manhattan, as well as many smaller-scale examples that can be adopted in any community.
Ecodesign thinking is relevant to anyone who has a part in shaping or influencing the future of cities and suburbs – designers, public officials, and politicians.
"A clarion call for a new normal in urban, suburban, and regional design."
"This book’s strength lies in its wide-ranging descriptions of leading practice successes from around the world. Examples range from inexpensive zoning ordinance changes to billion-dollar high-speed rail system projects. The book is a veritable illustrated ecodesign catalog… Barnett and Beasley are optimistic…believing that their ecodesign vision will be supported by increasing public exposure to great projects, advances in technical planning and communication tools, and growing awareness of critical consequences. For them, the outcome will make us or break us as a species; adopting ecosystem principles will help ensure our survival. [Ian] McHarg would surely agree."
"In this highly informative call to action [the authors] present a strong argument for change in the way planners develop cities and suburbs to respect the natural environment and human needs for a social life."
"The book is a comprehensive overview of the diverse challenges our cities and suburbs face, offering practical planning and urban design solutions for transforming our urban growth model today…Overall, this is a valuable, informative book for the planning community that advances theory into practice, and that inspires new approaches to pivotal planning issues."
"a thoughtful compendium of examples from an experienced team with much to offer uban design."
Journal of Planning Education and Research
"Now impelled by the reality of climate change, we have a huge opportunity to move to a future of greater efficiency, better health, and more happiness. Barnett and Beasley provide a timely blueprint to shape the human habitat."
David Suzuki, Cofounder, David Suzuki Foundation
"With the global 'urban century' in full swing, will cities old and new, central and suburban, become more sustainable and delightful? With Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs, Barnett and Beasley show us that the answer is certainly yes. Their insightful approach can and must be ours."
Ethan Seltzer, Professor, Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University
"Barnett and Beasley have authored an inspiring study of ecological principles translated into civic action. They present a jargon-free framework for making cities that redefine our understanding of how places perform in terms of social, economic, and environmental measures. Drawing on their considerable experience of city design and planning from Vancouver to Abu Dhabi, Barnett and Beasley show how thoughtful ecodesign enriches the day-to-day experience of people who live, work, and visit today's cities."
Raymond W. Gastil, Director of City Planning, Pittsburgh
"[Barnett and Beasley] prove that our built environment can be designed to adapt to a changing climate and to a rapidly expanding world population while also creating places that are more desirable for living and working."
Landscape Architects Network
"[EcoDesign for Cities and Suburbs] is both practical and fascinating."
Real Estate News Exchange
Chapter 1. Ecodesign: Combining Sustainability with Creating Attractive Places
Chapter 2. Adapting to Climate Change, Limiting Global Warming, Designing Sustainable Cities and Regions
Chapter 3. Balancing Cars and Other Transportation
Chapter 4. Regulations that Recognize the Natural Environment, Create Compact, Mixed Use Business Centers, and Shape Walkable Neighborhoods
Chapter 5. Designing and Managing the Public Realm
Chapter 6. Implementing Ecodesign
Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley created an University of British Columbia EdX course based on the book. Click here for the syllabus or read it below.
Cities are the key to sustainable living, but they're also complicated places burdened by years of car dominance. In their new book, Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs, Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley share examples from around the world of cities creating tighter neighborhoods, protections from global warming consequences, and more vibrant streetscapes. They also show how innovations can be made within typical planning procedures, making these improvements more practical and easier to implement.
Publicity and marketing associate at Island Press; avid reader and tea drinker.
With the end of COP 21 and the signing of the historic Paris Agreement, it’s not just countries that are thinking about how to reduce emissions—individuals are reflecting on how their habits and actions impact climate change as well.
Island Press authors shared what they’re doing to reduce their carbon footprints and, in some cases, what more they could be doing. Check out their answers and share your own carbon cutbacks—or vices—in the comments.
Jason Mark, author of Satellites in the High Country:
Very much like the Paris Climate Accord itself, ecological sustainability is a process, not a destination. Which, I'll admit, is a squirrely way of saying that I'm doing my best to reduce my carbon footprint. I ride my bike. I take mass transit. Most days my car never leaves the spot in front of our home. Most importantly, I have sworn off beef because of cattle production's disproportionate climate impact. The (grass-fed, humane) burger still has a siren song, but I ignore it.
Grady Gammage, author of The Future of the Suburban City:
I drive a hybrid, ride light rail to the airport and don’t bother to turn on the heat in my house (which is possible in Phoenix). My greatest carbon sin is my wood burning fireplace. I don’t use it when there’s a “no burn” day, but otherwise, I have a kind of primordial attraction to building a fire.
John Cleveland, co-author of Connecting to Change the World:
We just installed a 12 KW solar array on our home in New Hampshire. At the same time, we electrified our heating system with Mitsubishi heat pumps. So our home is now net positive from both an electricity and heating point of view. We made the solar array large enough to also power an electric car, but are waiting for the new models that will have more range before we install the electric car charger. The array and heat pumps have great economics. The payback period is 8-years and after that we get free heat and electricity for the remainder of the system life — probably another 20+ years. Great idea for retirement budgets!
Dan Fagin, author of Toms River:
Besides voting for climate-conscious candidates, the most important thing we can do as individuals is fly less, so I try to take the train where possible. I wish it were a better option.
Darrin Nordahl, author of Public Produce:
The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, and how we produce food in this country is responsible for much of those emissions. From agriculture, to the fossil fuels needed to produce bags and boxes for pre-packaged food, to the burning of gas and oil to transport both fresh produce and pre-packaged food, I have discovered I can reduce my carbon footprint with a simple change in my diet. For one, I avoid processed food of any sort. I also grow a good portion of my vegetables and herbs and, thankfully, local parks with publicly accessible fruit trees provide a modicum of fresh fruit for my family. We also eat less meat than we used to and our bodies (and our planet) are healthier because of it.
Yoram Bauman, author of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change:
I try to put on warm slippers or other extra layers around the house in order to not have to heat the house so much, but I still like to take long hot showers. (Maybe those two things are connected).
Rob McDonald, author of Conservation for Cities:
I try to pay attention to my daily habits that make up a lot of my carbon footprint. So I bike to work, or take mass transit. That gets rid of the carbon footprint of driving. I also try to only moderately heat or cool my home, so I’m not burning a lot of energy doing that. The biggest component of my carbon footprint that I haven’t managed to cut is for travel. I have to travel once or twice a month for my job, and unless it is a trip in the Northeast (when I can just use Amtrak!), I am stuck travelling. The carbon footprint of all that air travel is huge. I try to do virtual meetings, rather than travel whenever I can, but there still seems to be a big premium people place on meeting folks face to face.
Emily Monosson, author of Unnatural Selection:
We keep our heat really low in the winter (ask our teenage daughter, it's way too cold for her here!) and I hang my clothes on the line in the summer. Because it’s so cold, I love taking really hot long showers. I should also hang my clothes in the winter too, and ditch the dryer.
Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley, co-authors of Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs:
We both live in a town-house in the central part of a city – on opposite sides of the continent: one in Philadelphia the other in Vancouver. Our neighborhoods have 100% walk scores. We each own one car, but don’t need to drive it very much - most of the time we can go where they need to on foot. We wrote our book using email and Dropbox. What they still need to work on is using less air travel in the future.
Jan Gehl, author of Cities for People:
I live in Denmark where 33% of the energy is delivered by windmills. A gradual increase will happen in the coming years. As in most other countries in the developed world, too much meat is on the daily diet. That is absolutely not favorable for the carbon footprint. It sounds like more salad is called for in the future!
Suzanne Shaw, co-author of Cooler Smarter:
Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low Carbon Living provides a roadmap for consumers to cut their carbon footprint 20 percent (or more). My approach to lowering my carbon footprint has gone hand in hand with saving money through sensible upgrades. Soon after I purchase my 125-year-old house I added insulation, weather stripping and a programmable thermostat. When I needed a new furnace, I swapped a dirty oil furnace to a cleaner, high-efficiency natural gas model. And now have LED bulbs in every fixture in the house, Energy Star appliances throughout, and power strips at my entertainment and computer areas. This summer, I finally installed solar panels through a 25-year lease (zero out-of-pocket expense). In the month of September, I had zero emissions from electricity use. Living in the city, I am fortunate to have access to public transportation and biking, which keeps our household driving to a minimum.
Peter Fox-Penner, author of Smart Power Anniversary Edition:
I’m reducing my footprint by trying to eat vegan, taking Metro rather than taxis or Ubers, and avoiding excess packaging. Right now I travel too much, especially by air. P.S. Later this year I’ll publish my carbon footprint on the website of the new Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. Watch for it!
Carlton Reid, author of Roads Were Not Built for Cars:
Our family has a (small) car but I cycle pretty much all of the time. My kids cycle to school (some days) and my wife cycles to work (sometimes). It’s useful to have the car for some journeys, long ones mostly, but having a family fleet of bikes means we don’t need a second car. Reducing one’s carbon footprint can be doing less of something not necessarily giving up something completely. If everybody reduced their car mileage (and increased their active travel mileage) that would be good for the planet and personally: win/win.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.