Friday, November 26, 2010

Interesting Reads

I hope to see many of you at our Living Green, Saving Green workshop on Saturday, but in the meantime you should check out the following.

First off, the first Green Streets and Highway conference was held a few weeks ago. It was held with the support of the U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and in collaboration with the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The conference included papers from Convincing Elected Officials to Build Green Roads and Beyond Green: The Emerging Practice of Sustainable Street Design to the very technical Carbon Nano Fiber Reinforced Cement Composite for Energy Harvesting Road and Trace Element Leaching from Recycled Pavement Materials Stabilized with Fly Ash.

According to the USDOT Blog Fast Lane:
Administrator Mendez and I are proud of DOT's representation at this week's conference. FHWA professionals numbered among the presenters and technical staff, and quite a few FHWA Division Administrators were in attendance. We believe it’s the largest showing by FHWA at any event of this kind.

So, can American roads be built to respect their surroundings and help sustain the planet? Administrator Mendez's answer was a confident "Yes."
In other news, an article in the Washington Monthly called "The Next Real Estate Boom - How housing (yes, housing) can turn the economy around." by Patrick C. Doherty and Christopher B. Leinberger looks at the changing demographic trends in North America and how the demand for urban living is now outstripping the demand for suburban living.
Many hope that when the economy recovers, demand will pick up, inventories of empty homes will be whittled down, and the traditional suburban development machine will lumber back to life. But don’t bet on it. Demand for standard-issue suburban housing is going down, not up, a trend that was apparent even before the crash. In 2006, Arthur C. Nelson, now at the University of Utah, estimated in the Journal of the American Planning Association that there will be 22 million unwanted large-lot suburban homes by 2025.

There are some obvious reasons for the growing demand for walkable neighborhoods: ever-worsening traffic congestion, memories of the 2008 spike in gasoline prices, and the fact that many cities have become more attractive places to live thanks to falling crime rates and the replacement of heavy industries with cleaner, higher-end service and professional economies.

But the biggest factor, one that will quickly pick up speed in the next few years, is demographic. The baby boomers and their children, the millennial generation, are looking for places to live and work that reflect their current desires and life needs. Boomers are downsizing as their children leave home while the millennials, or generation Y, are setting out on their careers with far different housing needs and preferences. Both of these huge demographic groups want something that the U.S. housing market is not currently providing: small one- to three-bedroom homes in walkable, transit-oriented, economically dynamic, and job-rich neighborhoods.

No comments: