CNU planners, SmartCode play key role in first deep-green "One-Planet" development in U.S.

LEED-ND, CNU's partnership with the USGBC and NRDC is an important guide to creating sustainable neighborhoods -- and Sonoma Mountain Village north of San Francisco is a LEED-ND pilot project.

But this project, the redevelopment of a 200-acre former Agilent facility in Sonoma County, CA into a 5000-resident mixed-use community, is incorporating New Urbanism into an even more encompassing commitment to sustainable community design. As Katherine Salant described in the Washington Postearlier this month, Sonoma Mountain Village is the first development in the United States to be enrolled as a One Planet community.

The idea of one-planet living stems from the work of Mathis Wackernagel, the environmentalist who created the idea of the "environmental footprint." As Salant explains, "Wackernagel converted all the earth's resources into a single unit of measurement, productive hectares of land. He terms that a global hectare. Then he calculated each person's share. That's the ecological footprint."

The average person in the United States has a footprint of 9.6 hectares of resources, which means that if everyone on earth lived that lifestyle, five planet earths would be required to sustain them. If everyone on earth lived like the average European, three earths would be required to sustain them. One Planet Living like that envisioned at Sonoma Mountain Village brings each resident's footprint to the level that has to be achieved, on average, for all residents of the planet to live sustainably within the resources of the one and only planet we have.

As the attached report on this project's sustainability action plan clearly demonstrates, getting a community to the level of One Planet sustainability requires a massive commitment across a full set of strategies — in addition to committing to highly efficient buildings, the developer Codding Enterprises is deploying 90,000 square feet of solar panels, the largest privately owned solar power installation in Northern California — but as Salant notes, sustainable site design is a fundamental first step.

It's that recognition that led the developer of Sonoma Mountain Village to CNU members Laura Hall and Lois Fisher, who did the project's master plan and adapted the Smartcode to guide its development. Through their firms, Hall Alminana and Fisher Town Design, both remain active in the project.

From the Washington Post article:
When it comes to housing, size might seem to be the main issue. However, it's not as big a factor as you might think. Where you live and the type of transportation you use are just as important. If you have to drive to every activity outside your house, transportation takes up a significant share of your ecological footprint.

Of the choices available to new-home buyers, one of the smallest footprints could belong to a house in a New Urbanist community -- that is, one that follows the planning philosophy that models new suburban developments on older, walkable city neighborhoods. With its mixed-use land planning, shopping areas are within walking distance of most houses, so residents can use their cars less. When such a development adjoins public transportation, many two-car households get rid of one car.

Read the full article.

And read the attachment for more details on Sonoma Mountain Village's One Planet action plan.

SMVSAPreport.pdf1.95 MB


Great Concept

This sounds like a well-thought, comprehensive plan. One of the most sustainable things we can do is eat locally grown food - a major element of the Sonoma Mountain project. As gas prices soar, food will become increasingly expensive. This new community obviously benefits from the abundance of agricultural production in nearby areas of California. Future projects should follow this model and locate as close to food sources as possible.


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