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Sustainability Of Community and Creation

In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development concluded that "Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." So, essentially, sustainable development is the use of all environmental components by humanity at a level and in a manner that no part of the environment is destroyed or compromised in the process. The global landscape is littered with the ruins of unsustainable historic communities. Many of these sites had a remarkable "quality of life" in the context of their time and place, but could not sustain their lifestyle and practices.

While quality of life and sustainability are not necessarily inclusive, they do not have to be exclusive. Celebration, Florida and other neo-traditional communities are not "sustainable" simply because they provide an attractive quality of life. Residences within walking distances of stores and schools may be nostalgic, but from a sustainability point of view, they are intended to reduce suburban sprawl and decrease the need to pave more land surface for roadways and parking lots to get a growing population to and from their destinations. Residences over shops and Brownstone-type townhouses require less surface area than one-story homes on large lots, again limiting environmental impact. Using protected, "undevelopable" areas and storm water processing areas as community focal points or passive recreation elements reserves the less sensitive land for homes, shops, and access corridors. Instead of subdividing a ranch into one-acre lots, clustering fifty homes on fifteen acres and using the remaining thirty-five acres as a horse farm can preserve a desired aesthetic while reducing human impact on the land. The key is to seek new ways to give societal significance to conserving the environment.

Once a site has been chosen to build upon, following the LEED requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council or using the checklist from the Florida Green Building Coalition can assist the property owner in practicing sustainable development. Landscape Architects are educated to understand site layout issues, including what is recently being marketed as sustainable or "green" design process. After the site is developed, the owner can contact their local Cooperative Extension Service office for a copy of the "Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources in Florida."  And as most of us know, recycling reduces the land required to store garbage and the fossil fuels burned to transport the trash (although recycling does have costs).

Sustainable Design Resources and Links

While not an exhaustive listing, the following links may provide information about green building and maintenance practices.

Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection: www.floridadep.org
Florida Earth Foundation: www.floridaearth.org
Florida Energy Extension Service: www. energy.ufl.edu
Florida Urban Forestry Council: www.fufc.org
Florida Yards & Neighborhoods: www.fyn.ifas.ufl.edu
South Florida Water Management District: www.sfwmd.gov
Southwest Florida Water Management District: www.swfwmd.org
St. Johns River Water Management District: www.sjrwmd.com
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC): www.usgbc.org

 

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Ecotone Land Design, Inc.
113 N. Stewart Avenue, Unit E · Kissimmee, Florida 34741
Phone (407) 931-2225 · Fax (407) 932-1225

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