Category: Sustainability

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.

Future-ready City-Regions: The Next Competitive Edge?

A recent post by Alex Steffan poses some provocative challenges to urban planning and urban planners, and municipal executives around the world. In a sense, it illuminates the core challenge and intention of the world’s new Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda. The following paraphrases and excerpts the key points.

In light of our climate and our other planetary crises, many of us and our children will likely make residential location decisions in the coming years based on a city/region’s future-readiness. But which city to select; maybe the most “future-ready?”

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EVENT: Habitat III And Bay Area Sustainability Planning

Dates/Times:  THUR Nov. 17th and TUES Nov. 22nd (come one or both days).

Time:   2-3:30 pm (student presentations), 3:45-4:30pm (tentative Debrief/Q&A w Prof. Acey; must RSVP here/below)

Please RSVP (1) for attending the student presentations (courtesy option) and (2) for the Debrief (required) in the google form below (or click).

Location:  ROOM 106, Wurster Hall, University of California, Berkeley (map).

CM:  self-report option

Co-hosted by: APA Sustainability Committee & University of California Berkeley Department of City & Regional Planning.

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Webinar (111716): Creating Living Communities

APA Sustainable Communities Division Webinar Series

Co-hosted by APA California and the Northern Section Sustainability Committee

CM | 1.0 (live viewing only)

Thurs. Nov. 17, 2016, Noon to 1pm (PST)

In this webinar, we will explore The Living Community Challenge (LCC), a new design framework developed by the International Living Future Institute (the Institute), which seeks to lead the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. The LCC is a certification program, as well as a planning and design philosophy that starts by raising the question, “What does good look like?”

The LCC is applicable to new or existing communities, whether new master plans or existing neighborhoods. We will also explore the LCC companion tool—Living Community Patterns (PDF) that arose in part from the research partnership with the San Francisco Planning Department (Living Community Patterns – Exploratory Strategies for a Sustainable San Francisco). An audience Q&A will conclude the webinar.


Alicia Daniels Uhlig, Living Community Challenge + Policy Director

Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, ISSP-SA, Strategic Sustainability Planner-Economist, San Francisco Planning Department, and APA SCD Sustainability Champion – California.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the Living Community Challenge sustainability principles
  2. Describe each design performance area
  3. Explore the power of the “Patterns” approach to planning and designing Living Communities
  4. Discuss how the Living Community Challenge and Patterns may be used in practice

Credit: 1 CM  | 1 GBCI

Audience: Whether you are a Planner, Project Manager, Sustainability Consultant, part of a Neighborhood Association/Development Authority, or work for a Chamber of Commerce or municipality you will gain an understanding of how to adapt this enhanced understanding of sustainable community planning to your own practice and neighborhood-scale projects.

Event: UCB/APA Habitat III — Implications for Local Planning

Held September 27–Habitat 3 and the New Urban Agenda: Global Negotiations, Local Implications, UC Berkeley, 112 Wurster Hall, Berkeley, 6:00-7:30 pm.

The UCB IURD and APA California Norther Sustainability Committee co-hosted a panel discussion on the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat 3) held from October 17-20 in Quito, Ecuador. /1/  The Conference adopted the New Urban Agenda, a global urban development policy framework, which has been 2 years (or 40 years!) in the making.  The goal of the New Urban Agenda is to foster transformations across the urban world. The panel discussed the NUA and its new Sustainable Development Goals. It explored the implications for local planning practice and global sustainability.

Panelists included:

  • Charisma Acey, PhD, Department of City and Regional Planning
  • Jason Corburn, PhD, Department of City and Regional Planning
  • Anibal Gaviria, IURD Visiting Scholar 2016-17 and former Mayor of Medellin, Columbia,
  • Holly Pearson, AICP, Director of the APA California, Northern CA Sustainability Committee

The moderator was Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, ISSP-SA, SF Planning & APA Sustainability Champion.

For more information view the video recording and contact Holly Pearson at, Sustainability Committee co-director, who also wrote an article summarizing the lead up and work of Habitat III in the October 2016 issue of the Northern News (pp 1, 18-19; and here, or 3 page PDF here).

Video Table of Contents:

  1. Scott Edmondson, AICP, Introduction (00:00)
  2. Holly Pearson, Background & Context (05:05)
  3. Prof. Jason Corburn, DRCP-UCB, PhD, Healthy & Equitable Planning? (19:35)
  4. Anibal Gaviria, IURD Visiting Scholar and former Mayor of Medellin, Columbia, Planning Cities for Life (32:40)
  5. Prof. Charisma Acey, DCRP-UCB, PhD, 3 Keys to Local Implementation (44:00)
  6. Moderated Discussion (1:00:40)
    1. Comment: One illustration of the magnitude of the “planning” challenge is providing 1 new city /week of 1M pop to meet the needs of population growth from 2000-2050 (+3B).
    2. As hopeful as Habitat 3 is, with the new world focus on urban policy of the NUA and SDGs focused on transforming the urban world, how do you feel Habitat 3 will change the sustainability game of past 25 years that have unfolded since Rio 1992?
      1. Holly (1:04:30)
      2. Charisma (1:07:40)
      3. Jason (1:10:15
  7. Audience Q&A (1:11:55)
    1. What are Habitat 3’s Implementation Tensions? What are the tensions in Habitat 3 between the NUA and implementation? (1:11:55)
    2. What is the Effect of Population Growth? What do we do about population growth?  (1:16:25)
    3. Will Habitat 3’s Top-Down Engagement Trickle Down? As you’ve described, Habitat 3 involves multi-sectoral collaboration and participation, yet most Latin American cities are embedded in top down, authoritative structures and Habitat 3 appears top down as well; how do you see the benefits of Habitat 3 trickling down in Latin American countries to populations that don’t and can’t participate? (1:22:15)
    4. Can Habitat 3 Principles Secure the “Right to the City” in the Face of Unprecedented Globalization Forces? The slide that showed 6B people will be living in cities by 2050, equivalent to the current world population, implies a future need to renegotiate traditional concepts of borders as many cities grow in population to become the equivalent of city states.  In this context, how can Habitat 3 principles and processes be used to secure the right to city as cities face unprecedented population growth and the globalization of capital, fiscalization of land use, and soaring property prices?   (1:27:52)

Some past posts on the New Urban Agenda and the world’s new Sustainable Development Goals follow here:


/1/ University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design, Department of City & Regional Planning, Institute for Urban and Regional Development, and the American Planning Association California Chapter, Northern Section, Sustainability Committee.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]



From Biophilic Buildings to Cities Workshop – SF, Arup, CMU-BCA, BCN

Biophilic City Banner Image

Biophilia – The DNA for Resilient, Sustainable, and Human 21st Century Cities  


Should Cities be “Green” with Nature?

“We need nature in our lives more than ever today, and as more of us are living in cities it must be urban nature. Biophilic Cities are cities that contain abundant nature; they are cities that care about, seek to protect, restore and grow this nature, and that strive to foster deep connections and daily contact with the natural world. Nature is not something optional, but absolutely essential to living a happy, healthy and meaningful life.”(The Biophilic Cities Network (BCN):


On Friday May 13, 2016, San Francisco Planning co-sponsored a half-day workshop with Arup on Biophilic SF for the week-long Executive Education Program of the,

  • The Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and
  • Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy
  • Leadership in Environmental Sustainability Executive Development Program
  • on Big Data & Biophilic Design (May 9-13, 2016)

The San Francisco / ARUP Session expanded the biophilic focus of the CMU/BCA Program from the building (biophilic design) to the city (planning), exploring both the planning challenge and SF’s current initiatives.  On a walking tour to our afternoon discussion, the group visited three buildings with biophilic features, had lunch together in one plaza, and gathered in Arup’s conference room for presentations and discussion.

CMU/BCA Building Executive Program Description (from the brochure): The program offers a global overview of the sustainability movement, advocating a holistic approach to address resource management, promoting increasing use of renewable energy sources while minimizing energy consumption and maximizing health and comfort through innovative design and application of advanced building technologies. Focuses for this year’s program are on biophilic design and big data analytics.

Biophilia describes the natural affiliation of human beings toward nature and living organisms and its emphasis on the innate connection between humans and other living systems such as plants, animals and the weather. Biophilic design refers to the process of creating good habitat for people as a biological organism in the built environment.

Big Data Analytics in the context of the built environment can be defined as sensing, collection, processing and conveyance of building performance information that is understandable and actionable for data-drive decision making for processes of design, construction and operation of buildings and groups of buildings from campus to urban scales.

Click here for the workshop brochure, with a list of tour stops, participants, and literature list.

Click here for the Program Brochure (CMU/BCA Executive Ed).

Click here for a more detailed description of the tour and presentations, and more links.

Click here for references to key references in biophilic design and planning.

Email or for more information.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

Sustainable City Template–Hammarby

Sustainable new build: Hammarby Sjöstad is Stockholm’s largest urban construction project. The “Hammarby model” has become a tool for environmentally friendly city development around the world. When completed in 2017, 26,000 people will be living here in 11,500 apartments. The district has been planned using an eco-cycle approach and is intended to showcase ecological and environmentally sensitive construction and living. From:  Cities Alive – Rethinking Green Infrastructure, Foresight, Arup, 2015.

See also:

and Wiki:östad

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

Biophilic City Planning & Design References

Some References of some of the leading pioneers:

  1. Biophilic Cities Network (BCN) Home Page:
  2. Stephen Kellert Yale Bio:
    1. See also his recent book Birthright-People in Nature in the Modern World, which is exceptional (link to NPR interview here:
  3. Recording of Kellert’s Keynote to the Biophilic Cities network Launch Event: (includes link to Jennifer Wolch’s also)
  4. BCN Singapore Profile, including link to the film on BioP Singapore:
  5. Film links:
    1. Biophilic Design – Architecture for Life (also their site:
    2. Others . . . see list at the URL
  6. Terrapin About Green is one pioneer (see “About Terrapin” below):
    1. All reports:
    2. 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design:
    3. The Economics of Biophilia

About Terrapin. Focusing on transformative action for society, Terrapin utilizes whole-systems thinking to develop integrated design strategies, Terrapin challenges design and ownership teams to create restorative, regenerative environments. Terrapin believes in finding solutions that reconnect people with nature and mimic natural systems as this focus offers boundless opportunities to improve the quality of life for all. They also believe that high performance design means fundamentally improving health and productivity, while improving overall economic and environmental performance.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

Sustainability Champions Launch

The APA’s Sustainable Communities Division (SCD) launched its sustainability leadership program, the Sustainability Champion (SC) program after nominations were made and champions were selected in August-September, 2014.

Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, ISSP-SA, of the APA California Northern Section was selected as one of the champions and is looking forward to working with the California Chapter Board and planners in creating an initiative to advance sustainability planning in California communities.

He will continue his Research Lead role in the Northern Section APA Sustainability Committee, which he proposed and co-directed with Katja Irvin, until January 2013.

The Northern Section Sustainability Committee will be one of the inaugural members of the SCD’s Sustainability Champions California program, and Scott will lead that work.

The APS SCD champion’s program grew out of the research and facilitated discussion that Scott initiated for the 2013 APA National Conference in Chicago (see this post:  ).

Champions work in California since the Fall of 2016 has involved XXXX

A programmatic offering will be launched state-wide at the APA California Pasadena 2016 Conference . . ..


For information, questions, joining the e-list, or interest in volunteering, please send Scott an email at

Bio:  forthcoming.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

Regenerative Urbanism Rising – Webinar & Resources

More resources on the APA Sustainable Communities Division web site here.

There is also a Sustainable Communities Division Group Linked In discussion here.

A list or key references and links can be found here (forthcoming July 16th).

SHORT Description.  Pivoting from a net negative to net positive trajectory soon is our current sustainability planning challenge.  Regeneration is the theme that is bubbling up across our plan, design, and build professions and the key to the pivot/shift.  The upcoming APA webcast planning series WEBINAR on Regenerative Urbanism Rising – Platform for Next Generation Practice, explores this challenge, theme, and potential as described below.  Click here to register.


July 15,  WEBINAR:  Regenerative Urbanism Rising: Next-Generation Practice, APA Planning WebCast Series, FRI, July 15, 10-11:30 am (PST), (SCD description) (register).  This Webinar presents the case for the necessary sustainability pivot from net negative to net positive sustainability planning (Scott Edmondson, AICP, ISSP-SASF Planning Dept.; APA Sustainability Champion) and illustrates accelerating innovation across our plan-design-build professions of a net positive approach with two practice cases. The first is an integrated utility system based on “circular economy” principles and a new business model (Joshua Foss, President, The Ecala Group). It can be used as a primary vehicle for achieving net positive, restorative city development and goals. The second is a regenerative approach to planning and designing high-performance districts that creates better places at the same or lower costs than traditional development (Charles Kelley, AIA, Partner, ZGF Architects). The Webinar illustrates how a regenerative  built environment both becomes and creates a cornerstone of the needed ecological economy of a sustainable city and society. This Webinar re-presents the Sustainable Communities Division’s by-right session at the National APA Conference this past April 2016, and is offered as part of the Division’s Sustainability Champions Program. Go here to registerGo here for a LinkedIn pre-webinar discussion. Comments and questions to

CM | 1.5.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]