Category: Regional Planning

UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design Now Accepting Applications for Planning-Focused Summer Programs

Disc* (Design & Innovation for Sustainable Cities) is a five week summer program geared towards currently enrolled undergraduates with any level of previous experience in planning. Participants conduct field work, develop visual communication, mapping and design software skills, and connect with practitioners and faculty in a series of lectures and seminars on climate resiliency, global urbanization, sustainability, design and related topics. The Bay Area becomes a laboratory for exploration of the ethical, social and ecological issues surrounding city planning and urban design. Application deadline: May 15.

The Summer [IN]STITUTE in Environmental Design‘s [IN]CITY program is an immersive introduction to the fundamentals of sustainable city and regional planning for post-baccalaureates with no prior experience in planning who are curious about what a graduate level planning program is like. Over the course of six weeks on the Berkeley campus, participants experience the intensity and rigor of a planning seminar, attending lectures and discussions, media seminars and site visits, developing proposals for real world clients, and building a network of like-minded peers that will follow them through their academic and professional careers. Recent graduates of the Institute have been accepted to graduate planning programs at UC Berkeley, Columbia, Princeton, MIT, UCLA, Harvard, University of Michigan, and elsewhere. Application deadline: May 15.

Announcement – Building Carbon Zero CA Symposium (03.13.13)

Next Wednesday (Mar. 20, 2013), the Sustainability Committee is supporting Passive House California’s one-day symposium on Building Carbon Zero California: Implementing Efficiency for Cities and Regions.

Go here for more information and to register (see also Passive House California). The basic information is excerpted below with additional information provided for the main speakers.

In addition, go to the next post on Alex Steffen and the future of the city and sustainability.

This symposium is about the next step for–and harnessing the promise and potential of–green building, that is, extending it to the city and regional scale for existing and new urban fabric. This extension will form the necessary foundation for a carbon-free, renewable energy economy and prosperity. This relationship between radically high-performing energy-efficient buildings extended to the city and regional scale and renewable energy is only one of the synergies of such a move. Such synergies will include improved indoor environmental quality and setting up the basis for the transformation of the built environment from being a net energy consumer to net energy producer for the first time in human history. This will usher in a new age of energy abundance based on distributed energy production. With this symposium, Passive House California challenges us to raise the bar on Bay Area sustainability by focusing on the end-game and using that gap between it and existing conditions to motivate the innovation required to bridge the gap and reap the rewards.

Symposium Description Excerpt

This day-long symposium will focus on large-scale commercial, institutional and educational projects with the potential for cities and regions to implement Net Zero strategies and discuss the impediments (and incentives) for doing so now.

Why? California already has impressive legislation in place that sets the goal for achieving Net Zero energy buildings by 2030. Unfortunately there are no clear paths for how this target will be achieved. The goal of this one-day symposium is to gather policy-makers, industry leaders, architects and builders to collectively determine how best to move forward.

How? Our presenters will be offering various examples of how and where high performance building targets have been achieved locally, nationally and internationally. We are looking to facilitate and contribute to the conversation that has already begun at various venues around the state. We will include projects that have represented multiple strategies to achieve Net Zero energy performance – including the Living Building Challenge, LEED, Passive House and others – and hope to open a conversation to find the most effective solutions.

Who should attend? City planners, regional legislators, architects, builders and developers of commercial, institutional and multi-family housing and anyone with a vested interest in moving California’s built environment towards our Net Zero and near zero energy goals.

Primary Symposium speakers incude the following:

Alex Steffen, Planetary Futurist, Journalist/Author, Entrepreneur, and Thought Leader. Alex will keynote the day’s presentations. Alex’s new book, ‘Carbon Zero,’ sees Passive House as a viable means to achieve our carbon emissions goals. Alex Steffen is a global voice on sustainability, social innovation and planetary futurism. He is an award-winning writer and planetary futurist, who speaks to audiences around the world. Alex was Executive Editor of after he co-founded the organization in 2003 until it closed in 2010. See also: and

Ms. Joke Dockx, Director for Energy at the Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment (“Brussels Environment”). Ms. Dockx has supervised the transformation/ conversion of over 102,000 m2 of buildings to super-low energy standard construction within the City of Brussels. An additional 44 Passive House buildings are under construction. The City has mandated that all new buildings must meet the Passive House standard by 2015 and is on track to have most of the existing municipal buildings retrofitted to meet that requirement. Since 2007, the Exemplary Buildings partnership has assisted 52 Exemplary Building projects with another 44 under construction (collectively, over 15 million square feet of Passive House buildings). A growing share of the Exemplary Buildings meet the Passive House Standard, and it will mandate Passive House starting 2015.

Mary James, former Home Energy Magazine editor, has written her third book on Passive House buildings in the US, “American Passive House Developments.” The book is focussed on multi-family, commercial and multi-purpose projects already completed around the country. See here for publications: Mary James is the editor and publisher at Low Carbon Productions. In 2010, she authored Recreating the American Home: The Passive House Approach, and in 2008, she coauthored Homes for a Changing Climate: Passive Houses in the U.S. with Katrin Klingenberg and Mike Kernagis. She was the editor and publisher of Home Energy magazine for 10 years. She lives in Northern California with her two children.

8 CM credits pending.

by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, Sustainability Committee past co-director and current member/strategic sustainability advisor. 

Regional Planning Success – 50 yr Growth Plan

for the Tri-County Porland Area was approved. This is a remarkable success. Read the story.

It wasn’t easy, took more than two years and it didn’t please everyone, but a plan to shape the next 50 years of development and preservation in the tri-county Portland area was approved Friday by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission.

The tri-county work was coordinated by Metro, the regional government, and was intended to replace the bitter arguments that erupt every five years when Metro expands the urban growth boundary. By establishing reserves, the region makes it clear where growth will occur and how land will be used for decades to come.