Plan-it sustainably Column (Feb.): Outlook 2013

<<As of 011913, this draft appearin in the Northern News is being expanded with additional links and possibly discussion>>  (Note: originally published in the Northern News, Plan-it sustainably Column, February 2013.)

Welcome to 2013. The New Year begins with a mixed but hopeful forecast for sustainability even as unsustainability trends accelerate and responses seem tepid. Recent reports for 2012 indicate that we produced the highest global CO2 emissions on record. This puts us on track to exceed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s extreme emission scenarios for catastrophic climate change by the end of the century (UNEP Emissions Gap, Nov. 2012). Other demographic and economic stresses on natural systems accelerate and increasingly compromise the planetary life support system and communities’ well being. The trends challenge us to orchestrate an effective response.

Fortunately, an accumulating set of bold, innovative, and inspiring planning responses hold the possibility for some sort of softer landing. Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee has described many of these responses in this column and on our website. One auspicious development this year is national APA’s newly created Sustainable Communities Division. Its mission is to help planners provide the leadership and collaboration on the comprehensive and innovative approaches that success requires. And APA’s Planning Training Service continues to offer practical applications, such as Sustainable Zoning and Development Controls and Sustainable Development through Form-based Codes.

In 2013, our local Sustainability Committee will continue developing credible and useful information, providing inspiring examples of leading edge innovation and sustainability planning. We are now working with the local ULI Sustainability Committee on an applied sustainability workshop to be offered later this spring for developers and planners. We will continue to publish this Plan-it column, send out periodic committee E-Updates, and add content to the website and blog.

A key component of our 2013 program will be to activate membership participation. This could be as simple as you signing up for the Committee’s e-list (http://bit.ly/MVdpQh), but could include occasionally contributing articles and updates on sustainability planning in your jurisdiction or firm, or contributing research, class projects, and papers that you prepare as professors and students of planning. It could extend to volunteering to undertake more consistent or involved roles in the committee’s work program (regular article and column writing, web site development, lecture and workshop development, etc.). Design your collaboration to fit your interests and schedule, http://bit.ly/Oh7sxp

Whether it’s using Committee resources in your own work or collaborating with the Committee and your sustainability planning colleagues, you make the innovative difference that can lead to success. We look forward to working with you as we try to make a difference in 2013.

 By Scott Edmondson, AICP (past c0-director/founder, current Sustainability Committee member and volunteer.)