Search Results for: regenerative

Mobilizing APA State Chapter Sustainability & the New Sustainable Community Division

Making the connection between advancing sustainability planning, APA State Chapters, and the new APA Sustainable Community Division was the topic of one of the Division’s by-right sessions at the National APA Conference in Chicago (April 2013), the Mobilizing Sustainability Facilitated Discussion (Sunday, 3pm).

Mobilizing an effective response to the sustainability threat, with climate change being the front-line assault, is the ultimate planning challenge. Our effectiveness now will make the decisive difference. We are winning a few battles but losing the war, and the window of opportunity is closing. The widening gap between the expanding sustainability challenge and accelerating socio-economic-environmental trends underscores the urgency of an effective response. Our current trajectory is one of catastrophic climate change from society’s lagging and insufficient response. The complexity of the challenge, from understanding to transformation, further confounds initiative, motivation, and sufficient progress. Under these conditions, business-as-usual is no longer an option and best practices are necessary but insufficient. Intentional, focused, and on-going outside-the-box experimentation and innovation, scaling, and implementation are essential.

Fortunately, planning is well positioned to rise to the challenge and lead successfully. Although its core competence, or “silo” expertise is often understood to be land use, its core method is integrative, innovative design and planning. This core methodological expertise has been applied to the wide variety of issues within planning’s domain. It now needs to be focused on the complex systems challenge of sustainability. This application has already begun in the emerging arena of regenerative design and planning (Living Building Challenge) arising from the longer tradition of ecological planning. It focuses on the endgame of eliminating the sources of systematic environmental impacts and on creating net positive impacts. It uses this focus as a way to gauge and motivate the level of creativity and on-going innovation needed for ultimate success.

Coincidentally and fortunately, this method simultaneously transforms the economy, which is the essential component of sustainability success (see RMI’s Reinventing Fire campaign for an innovative cross-sector initiative that uses sustainability as an innovation platform to invent the new perpetually prosperous ecological economy). In this way, the traditional win-lose relationship between the environment and the economy is transformed into a win-win relationship. With this approach, sustainability becomes a prosperity platform and method. It is the current economy’s systematic violation of sustainability principles that is undermining the integrity of the regenerative global life support system and primary economy that we call nature and its capacity to continue in any ecologically rich, diverse, and productive state. With a compromised biosphere, society will find it difficult to impossible to continue.

As the new Division and State Chapters wrestle with how to expand and amplify society’s sustainability response and rise to the leadership challenge, planning’s core competence and evolving practice of regenerative design and (Busby-A Pioneers Perspective) can be tapped as a model and one essential source of innovation towards success.

In beginning to address this situation within their sphere’s of influence, the APA CA Northern and APA CO Sustainability Committees conducted an informal research project beginning in the fall of 2012. The inquiry briefly examined the current practice and challenge of sustainability planning by State APA Chapters. The resulting article summarizes the findings and develops the issues and implications for moving forward. It formed part of the foundation for the facilitated discussion and a LinkedIn discussion. The research led to the facilitated discussion working group consisting of sustainability committee directors from APA MA and APA FL State Chapters. Links to these materials are listed below. The facilitated discussion session included breakout discussions that addressed the following questions.

1.  What would it take to mobilize sustainability planning in your state APA chapter?

2.  What are the ways for state APA chapters to collaborate on sustainability planning for mutual benefit?

3.  What are the best ways that the new Division can promote innovative sustainable planning and support state chapter planning efforts?

4.  Your action commitments?

Session presenters will summarize the breakout discussions and post them subsequently. The presenters will also constitute the core of an informal work group of the new division on this topic and subsequent initiatives will be announced through the new Division’s blog and web site. Review the materials, contribute to the LinkedIn dialogue, and join the response.

Links:

  • Summary of Session’s Breakout Discussions (PDF)

San Francisco Takes the Leading Edge

After many years of the SF Environment’s path-breaking accomplishments, including the formative 1996 Sustainability Plan whose foundation is still at the leading edge, SF Planning is also accelerating sustainability with completion of recent plans, formation of a multi-agency sustainability-ecodistrict program, and exploration of promising frameworks.

Over the past five years, some of San Francisco’s major projects have included award-winning sustainability plans. They set the stage for the current sustainability and EcoDistrict initiative. These plans include:

  • Treasure Island
  • Bayview-Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point
    • Sustainability Plan (click: Development Projects | Hunters Point Shipyard & Candlestick Point | Sustainability | then scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Sustainability Plan.”)
  • Transit Center District Plan (home page)
    • The Plan (19 MB PDF) (see Chapter 6, District Sustainability)
  • Park Merced

A year ago, SF Planning convened a multi-agency team to advance citywide sustainability through coordination and collaboration. The team includes SFPUC (water, wastewater and power), SF Environment, Capital Planning, Public Works, and the Redevelopment Successor Agency. To deepen their sustainability planning capacity, they participated in the Portland Sustainability Institute’s EcoDistrict training this past May.

The team engages in on-going dialogue with monthly program development meetings and presentations to create a common basis for collaboration and program development. Key presentation topics have included transformative energy and water infrastructure, infrastructure ownership models, new business models for smarter cities, optimizing district-scale energy and water systems, and integrated water resource management (click here; scroll down). This cross-silo group’s evolving EcoDistrict approach encompasses the district scale, neighborhood scale, and industrially zoned land. Coordinating private development and public infrastructure improvements through new modes of finance and stakeholder governance to create the next generation of sustainable urban infrastructure and planning capacity is this group’s emerging focus.

Other SF Planning initiatives include applying an EcoDistrict approach to the Central Corridor Plan (scroll down) and a pilot neighborhood (upcoming), exploring the Living Building Challenge (LBC) and the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD), and participating as a partner city in the International Biophilic Cities Research project. The LBC is an award-winning strategic framework (see BFI announcement too) to achieve net zero and restorative building and community impacts, from the room to regional scale. Also under assessment, and related to the LBC, is The Natural Step’s 20-year old transformative FSSD. It integrates tactical initiatives into a powerful strategic approach for ultimate citywide sustainability. The FSSD includes stakeholder process to catalyze needed public and private sector economic innovation that eliminates environmental impacts or transforms them into restorative effects. As a result of eliminating environmental impacts, sustainability becomes a platform for the economic innovation that creates the ecologically sustainable regenerative economy that underpins a sustainable society in the biosphere.

This past May, SF became a partner city of the Biophilic Cities Research Project, which, coincidentally, is a key component of the LBC. The biophilic hypothesis, for which there is accumulating evidence, is that humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life for their health. Biophilic planning and development provides that connection by infusing a city with an abundance of nature. As Professor Beatley more eloquently states, biophilic city planning and design “is about redefining the very essence of cities as places of wild and restorative nature, from rooftops to roadways to riverfronts. It is about understanding cities as places that already harbor much nature and places that can become, through bold vision and persistent practice, even greener and richer in the nature they contain,” thus meeting our human need for connection with nature.

In a related initiative, SF Planning may collaborate with SF Environment in launching their urban biodiversity program, of which two SF Planning projects may be key components: Green Connections and the Urban Forest Master Plan. A key challenge of formulating urban biodiversity programs is the degree to which pre-development ecosystems should serve as the value and decision basis for formulating the program compared to a more creative hybrid approach. The latter approach would reflect pre-development values but include new elements to forge an ecosystem that includes the built environment. Enriching, extending, and harnessing natural ecosystem services to the urban area’s metabolism and economy could be part of the design challenge of urban biodiversity programs. In addition, global warming’s likely substantial reduction in the water supply of the western United States presents the crux design constraint.

Invitation:  Are you advancing innovative sustainability planning in your city? Feature it in the Plan-It Sustainably column of the Northern News, and/or post a longer description with links on this blog. Send your idea or post to Scott Edmondson, or simply author a guest post. What is or is not working? Join the conversation; add value; move the Section’s sustainability needle!

Monthly Resources:

Sustainability Committee Update:

(NOTE: This is a cross post from the shorter Plan-it sustainably Column, Northern News, November 2012 <<link forthcoming>>, by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, co-director, Sustainability Committee, APA, CA Chapter, Northern Board).

Green Guru Gone Wrong or is there a Bigger Story?

In 2008, FastCompany published this article on William McDonough that is well rounded and a great example of good reporting. It exposed some gaps between the talk and the walk. However, is the issue really McDonough’s personal-professional challenges or society having the capacity to recognize the larger value he produced and runnng with it, with or without him?

Here was my post after finishing the article: Bill’s personal failings, challenges, call them what you may, his only too-human foibles, are unfortunate (but we all have some variety of them do we not?). They do interfere with his potential to be the personal champion for the next industrial revolution. However, it is important to separate the person, even project performance, from his ideas.

The awesome potential of William McDonough as a force for the sustainable/regenerative economic transformation we so urgently need does not lie in his person, but in his ideas. His ideas are conceputally accessible to anyone with logical capacity and ecological education. He has conceputally illuminated the DNA of an economy that not only would have restorative environmental impacts, but which could be a wildly more productive economy to boot, thereby laying the material foundation for a sustainable global society in the biosphere. Given the impoverishment of two-fifths or more of the 7 billion of us on the planet now, and the 2-4 billion more that are arriving daily between now and 2050, a radical increase in economic productivity is absolutely necessary but insufficent for success. Doing it in a way that is net-positive, that is environmentally restorative and enhancing of the biosphere’s regnerative capacity is the essential quality, the necessary and sufficient condition for humanity’s regenerative success in the universe.

However, getting there will take more than the persuasive power of one charismatic designer, with or without foibles! We must embrace his concepts, develop the implications in all areas from design to science to economics to policy, and collaboratively execute at lightening speed and globally. Designing the vehicle for that insitutional collaboration should be the next challenge we address. As is true of most human challenges, they illuminate issues that need to be understood differently, executed differently, if we are to be successful. We all have our own agendas for personal/professional development, but let’s certainly not wait for Mr. McDonough to work out his. There’s a much larger drama in play and it needs our attention now.

Plan-it Sustainably – August 2012

Cross-post, APA CA Chapter-Northern (Northern News, August 2012)

Living Future’s Living Cities – Explorations of a Positive End Game, Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, Katja Irvin, AICP, co-directors, Sustainability Committee

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI: http://bit.ly/MRlhDm) recently won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2012 (http://bit.ly/MC32TN) for its innovative framework known as the Living Building Challenge (LBC) 2.0 (http://bit.ly/OSyfjE)—“a visionary path to a regenerative future.” LBC 2.0 guides the planning and design of regenerative places, from the site/building to the city/region scales. It takes LEED to the next level–to ultimate sustainability success–where impacts are reduced to net zero, e.g. eliminated, if not transformed to positive, e.g. become restorative of the regenerative life support cycles of the biosphere and local bioregion. As such, it is a planning innovation worth following if not testing!

Motivated by the idea that the future we imagine shapes human behavior and the prevalence of dystopian images of our urban future (think Blade Runner), the ILFI launched the Living City Design Competition in 2010 (http://bit.ly/NqR1nI). The competition engaged top international design and planning talent in applying LBC2.0 to the city scale. Their results (http://bit.ly/NG0wNg) showcase a positive urban future adapted to local conditions. This visioning is a first step in making the big, bold, transformative moves required for practical, next-generation urban sustainable development that planners can use now to begin creating the regenerative cities we need. One local application, Berkeley+Bay (http://bit.ly/Myel13), sketches the implications for the City of Berkeley and points towards a challenging larger regional application in the future.

One of LBC 2.0’s distinguishing features is the set of 20 performance parameters of “net-zero” principles that are now feasible using existing science, technology, and practices, along with a small dose of on-going innovation to further improve practicality. Raising the bar to net-zero is the key strategic move that transforms sustainability from an added cost to an innovation platform and profit path to the ecological-economy that underpins a sustainable society. Sustainable development is no longer pie-in-the-sky utopianism. We live in a new age of enviro-capitalism (http://bit.ly/zuJFrh) where solutions have become smart business and smart planning.

LBC 2.0 redefines the concept of green building by setting extremely ambitious goals that raise the bar by spurring the innovation needed to plan and develop regenerative buildings and places. Those goals include ultra-efficient, nontoxic buildings and places that generate all of their own energy onsite using renewable sources; capture and treat all of their own water; are constructed of nontoxic, sustainably sourced materials; use only previously developed sites; and are beautiful and inspiring to their inhabitants.

Although LBC 2.0 is not a recipe for a fully sustainable global society, it portends a huge step forward for a large component of a sustainable society—the built environment. LBC 2.0 is the 21st century realization of the 20th century vision for regenerative planning and design with roots in the pioneering work of Buckminster Fuller, Ian McHarg, John Todd, and many others. When combined with a strategic approach, as the ILFI anticipates with its recent merger (http://bit.ly/MRlhDm) of LBC 2.0 with the Cascadia Green Building Council, The Natural Step, and Ecotone Publishing, LBC 2.0 is poised to become a major driver of sustainability throughout the built environment, economy, and society. As such, planning can leverage and extend LBC 2.0 through collaboration and innovative sustainability planning.

 

Resources

Need More Ideas for Measuring Sustainability?

  • Newly crafted City of Dubuque Indicators    and sustainability principles ().   
  • The Rockford, Illinois region is developing an ambitious sustainability plan (see and The Indicators section).

Sustainability Committee Web Site

  • Explore more resources for innovative sustainability planning  ().
  • Read the Committee’s inaugural E-Update ().
  • Subscribe to the Committee’s e-mail list ().
  • Collaborate in ways that fit your time and interests   ().

The Notion of Nebulous Sustainability is Misguided and Misguiding

A recent review of a session at the APA California Conference (“Translating Sustainability into Practice: Tools for Measuring Community Sustainability”) seems to argue that that a robust understanding of sustainability is not possible, that measurement is unnecessary, and that neither is needed because an effective response can be found in traditional planning as usual. Even if I have inaccurately perceived or over-interpreted this point, a response to it may be useful because one does find these positions in society more generally.

Although I can sympathize with the apparent nebulousness of the concept of sustainability and the limited occurrence of a rigorous understanding in practice, those conditions do not justify uncritically jumping to the conclusion that the concept is therefore ephemeral and that sustainability in planning is simply about making “nicer” cities. Those conditions do not support such a conclusion unilaterally and such a conclusion is counterproductive.

Doing so cheapens and undermines a long-standing and painfully emerging integration of economics and development (the key contribution of Brundtland in 1987 and environmental science beginning in the late 1950s). That integration would align the human economy with the principles of the regenerative life-support system of the biosphere. It would leverage them to produce higher levels of prosperity for the environment and the stabilized 9 billion of us by 2050 than the false-positive business-as-usual (BAU)-prosperity scenario could ever produce. It would also avert the systems-destroying effects of the BAU scenario from accelerating socio-economic-environmental trends.

Although there is a common perception among planners that integration of the “good” planning of smart growth and new urbanism is the basis for city/community sustainability, there is a growing awareness that the real implications of sustainability for cities, economies, and communities has yet to be conceptualized and developed, that it is a work in progress. Unfortunately, the real value and emergent urban forms and processes would never be developed if we were to buy into the sophistry that the absence of a rigorous definition simply means one is not possible.

A more constructive position might be to inquire more deeply into why 255 definitions of sustainability exist. To explore the issue around the phenomenon of sustainability, the issues involved in understanding it, defining it, and measuring it, even if measuring it is necessary. I reviewed the article cited for the 255 definitions and found NOT 255 different definitions, but 255 instances of the same core definition (economic development that does not compromise the biosphere’s ecological integrity and that does not affect some groups for the advantage of others) with a wonderful variety of surrounding detail. In my view, the variety of surrounding detail does not undermine the constancy of the core definition. Maybe I am seeing things, but the jumped-to-conclusion was not the only obvious perception.

On the issue of measuring sustainability, I recently reviewed a new PAS report (No. 565), Assessing Sustainability-A Guide for Local Governments, for the APA California Northern News (see page 12; see also review on the Sustaining Places Blog). That Report is the most rigorous and richest assessment of measurement tools, techniques, and issues applicable to any planning goal, but reviewed for the purposes of assessing sustainability, that I have seen. It deals with the definitional issue rigorously but crashes on the same shoals as those mentioned in the article above without arriving at a rigorous definition. I address some of the issues of reaching a rigorous, operationally definition of sustainability in my review.

Even if we did not want to pursue a more rigorous definition, we could easily come up with some key measures of sustainability for the “know-it-when-we-see-it(sustainability) crowd.” How about share of a city’s energy use from renewable sources (100%=sustainable, <100%=NOT, the closer to 100% the closer to sustainability)? How about the share of the acreage (local and non local) growing the food consumed locally that is farmed with organic, restorative methods without fossil-fuel-based fertilizers and pesticides (100%=sustainable)? How about total C02 emissions/2020 peak C02 emissions, where a ratio of 1 in year 2020 is on target and it needs to decline to 0 by 2050 preferably go negative? How about zero toxic emissions from the economy into the environment? How about zero net water use/living within the declining water supply projected for the western US over the next 50+ years from our current catastrophic climate change trajectory? How about measures of economic security (days economy could operate during a shortage, price spike, or other disruption in global fossil fuel market; price of gasoline or fossil-fuel-based energy at which economic growth begins to slow and unemployment rises; etc.). Sustainability for a city, or any subsystem of the larger environmental system, involves NOT contributing to the negative environmental impacts undermining local, regional, and global environment at a minimum, and at best, having restorative effects. It also includes substantial insulation, or better yet, avoidance, from the current survival and well-being risks economies and their communities presently face. Community and city sustainability, (or that of any other subsystem) is not that hard to conceptualize. Once done, the new roles for planning become relatively obvious and would also develop over time. Who else will take the lead? Not business. Not the politicians. It is left to the citizens and to planning and planners.

Now comes the tricky part–mental models of reality. If you have the most widely distributed mental model that we all do, the atomistic, reductionist one, the one that sees only dots and no systemic connections, then you probably view the above measures as impossible-to-attain, uneconomic assaults on the economy for better environmental quality. You would see some measure of reduced environmental quality as the cost of economic prosperity without perceiving the darker back-story; the dynamic degenerative effect of that reduced environmental quality ultimately on economic jobs and prosperity (and nowadays, that ultimately is likely not that far away).

If you switch to a systems mental model, you realize that the duality of jobs and environmental quality results simply from an incorrect framing, that is, specifying the relationship incorrectly. You realize that the tradeoff is actually jobs now for no jobs later. When you realize that, you realize that using the constraint of not undermining the integrity of the environment with our economy is actually the key, the innovation path, to perpetual prosperity. Fortunately, the smartest business people and the smartest firms on the planet started realizing that point in the early 1990s. This gave birth to the emerging arena of business sustainability that continues to expand (see GreenBiz Innovation Forum 2011 for a powerful current incarnation; or see Interface Corporation or The Necessary Revolution).

My perspective on the challenge for planning/planners is fleshing out the implication of business sustainability, that is sustainability as a driver and innovation platform for perpetual prosperity, for community and urban-rural-regional sustainability planning. That is where the “money” is so to speak, where the power is, where the jobs are, where the future lies. All jobs are green jobs if you green the industry. The idea that green jobs are a new sector of the economy is misguided. The investment firms and governments need to undertake is not in incubating a new “green” sector, but in greening each business and industry, and their supply chains, in their jurisdictions. This leads to the inevitable multi-stakeholder collaborative process dimension of sustainability (ANOTHER measurable component, maybe under the rubric of community sustainability business-political “capital”). It leads to new roles for planning. It leads to planning inventing the new land use patterns of places that sustain the economy, the society, and the environment simultaneously. The APA National’s Sustaining Places Initiative will soon be releasing its first report on The Role of the Comprehensive Plan in Sustaining Places. It addresses the definitional issue, provides some best practice principles of sustaining places planning, and invites planners to pick up the challenge of measurement by also providing some best practice examples. My only minor beef with the report is that it does not go beyond best practices, but that is another report that someone will write in the near future. The SPI Report does break new ground by summarizing and synthesizing current best practices to advance understanding and practice and to illuminate a new sustaining places agenda for the APA and AICP.

In concluding, the notion that because many people don’t have a rigorous understanding of sustainability now means that there is not one and that sustainability is an empty, unimportant concept without potential consequence, and with an associated implication that we should, therefore, simply flail away doing whatever comes to mind or is easy, or give up entirely, is simply false. It is also disingenuous, not only for the sustainability agenda, but for the larger planning agenda.  Much of the larger planning agenda shares characteristics similar to those that make sustainability planning more difficult, but not impossible, to define rigorously and measure meaningfully.

Chapter 2 of the PAS report characterizes measuring sustainability as the Holy Grail for planners. The chapter concludes with two quotes that aptly frame the challenge. The first is that old management adage, “What gets measured gets done.“ The second is an interesting counterpoint, that reality and management are not so simple: “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” (the latter quote by Albert Einstein).

The Holy Grail for sustainability planners may be more a robust and clear operational definition of sustainability than the measurement of it, for which there are plenty of good tools and methods! Unfortunately, the report does not review the implications of the emerging arena of strategic sustainability and its application to communities internationally over the past 20 years. Strategic sustainability uses a clear principle-based definition of sustainability—rooted in standard science—and a range of other tools and methods to facilitate the paradigm shift required to understand sustainability issues, measure progress, and achieve success.

There are rigorous definitions out there, but finding them requires an open mind and apparently, a little work. My personal-professional recommendation for a starting point is the powerful, science-based, principle-based definition used in The Natural Step’s Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, the related eco-municipalities framework, and the five core principles produced by a colleague of Buckminster Fuller.  You will also find close facsimiles to these principles in the APA’s Policy Guide on Planning For Sustainability (2002; see Section III(A)).  Other useful frameworks are (1) Living Future Challenge, (2) Sonoma Mountain Village, (3) the international One Planet Living program. For thinking powerfully about how to achieve these principles, that is embarking on the innovation journey to ultimate sustainability, the four strategies of Natural Capitalism are another good and powerful place to start: )1) Radically Increase the Productivity of Natural Resources; (2) Shift to Biologically Inspired Production Models and Materials; (3) Move to a “Service-and-Flow” Business Model; (4) Reinvest in Natural Capital (see RMI).

These definitions, principles, and strategies have been applied more to business organizations over the past 20 years than communities, which are more complex sub systems. However, the rigorous and fruitful application to communities is strategic sustainability’s next step. Taking it should produce even greater prosperity than the application to business organizations. That is the challenge ahead that I see for planning and planners. Taking this next step would be foreclosed by trivializing the potential for a rigorous definition of sustainability, and therefore, the import of the sustainability challenge itself for global society and pivotal role planning could play in leading an effective response. Let’s take this next step.

Will Planners Use the “Sustaining Places” Moniker?

Thank you Daniel for a surprisingly engaging question (go to this APA SCP Linked In discussion for more detail and others’ responses). With only nine voices contributing, we already have quite an interesting variety of perspectives. I have to say that I cannot really get used to “sustaining places,” even after reviewing and commenting on two drafts of the Task Force Report.

Sustainability, sustainable development and their variations are relatively new, imprecisely defined terms that people either love or hate, but which are imprecisely understood at best. One always needs to examine the use of the term to grasp it’s meaning in any instance. Many would argue they are over used, and i would have a tendency to agree. However, when i try to find a better word, i arrive back at sustainability for a variety of reasons.

The scientist in me likes regenerative, because that is in fact what sustainability is all about. Sustainable or sustainability is a counterpoint to the increasingly obvious unsustainable, false-positive prosperity pipe dream of the business-as-usual scenario. The current mess as Storm so accurately describes is what we get with an economy that systematically undermines the regenerative bio-geo-chemical process of the biosphere’s life-support/regeneration system. Alignment of the human economy with the regenerative ecological, economic, and design principles of the biosphere–a restorative, or better, net positive approach–holds the potential for durable and equitable economic, community, and societal prosperity. I believe it is truly the last frontier and only/last basis for a long wave of regenerative/ sustainable economic and societal development.

The definition Daniel provided above is a definition of “planning” for sustaining places or sustaining places planning; but what is a “sustaining place?” A place that sustains, but what is sustained? A few other places in the Task Force Report indicate that it is a place where the ecological and socioeconomic systems are not in conflict, although they use a more precise phrase. After reading that during my report review, the concept of sustaining places made more sense. It even became comprehensible. The phrase is not used to mean sustaining as replicating in perpetuity the current mess It refers to an imprecisely defined balance between human and environmental systems such that the environmental systems are not fundamentally degraded or fatally compromised. That is a good start, but I believe it really needs to be developed more precisely to provide the benchmark at which planners need to aim clearly.

Having personally arrived at a better understanding of the phrase, I do not think that sustaining places will catch on as the new moniker that Bruce intends, either among planners or in the general population, except to refer to the APA Sustaining Places Initiative (SPI) and related actions and material. One’s first impression, or at least mine, upon reading or hearing it, is a big blank; what is that (sustaining places); what does it mean? That thought is followed by a frustration at not finding any quick conceptual links in my brain to anything concrete other than some guessing.  And even having been involved with the reviewing the report, following the SPI for the past 1.5 years, and being sympathetic, even empathetic, I still have that same experience whenever I see the phrase, albeit at a lower level than I did initially. Instead, I think people will tend to use some variation of the already familiar and popular sustainable, sustainability, or sustainable development, as in sustainable community planning or community sustainability planning, sustainability planning, or sustainable places planning or planning for sustainable places. Having said that, I think the moniker can/will work for APA’s initiative as it is very distinctive and serves to call attention to sustainability planning for places, the APA’s distinctive issue, arena, and contribution.

Personally, I would use the phrase Sustainable Places Planning (Initiative) because I think it sounds better and flows better. However, at the level of a few-word moniker, I am not so fussy. Whichever few words or phrase one ultimately uses, its meaning will always be vague, imprecise, and indicative until it becomes deeply rooted in our social experience and knowledge, and then it will not matter which phrase we use!

As a result, we’ll all be explaining whichever term we use in every instance of use so that people understand the sustainability planning challenge: understanding the dynamic, whole-systems relationship between the environment as the primary life support system and economy of the planet and the embedded and totally dependent societal and human economy subsystems in such a way as to illuminate the innovation path for business and communities to durable, secure, and just economic, community, and global prosperity for a stabilized population of 9 billion by 2050 in just 40 short years and for a catastrophic climate change mitigation plan so that average global warming will not exceed 1 degree C  and CO2 and GHGs are eventually reversed and stabilized at pre-industrial levels.

That is our sustainability planning challenge, whatever we call it.  By this definition then, first-phase sustaining places planning (2010-2050) in every place on the planet requires something resembling the following key steps:

(1) Eliminating and reversing CO2 and GHG production in line with the not-to-exceed-1-degree-centigrade global warming scenario and to the point where CO2/GHG production becomes negative ASAP;

(2) Doing so in a way that restores natural systems and produces greater real wealth and prosperity more equitably distributed than the societal-suicide scenario of business as usual (understanding the system change challenges and the policy changes and innovation path required to get there);

(3) Integrative land-use/sustainable development planning for the place’s share of the 9B global population by 2050;

(4) Planning for the local/regional growth variation in a new sustainable economy with a global population stabilized at 9B in 2050 (some places economies and population will grow/some will decline even though the total population is stabilized at 9B);

(5) Integrative land-use/sustainability planning for a sustainable economy/place by 2050.

(6) Planning NOW (hardening the economic and built urban/regional infrastructure and system) for the highly likely set of devastating destruction anticipated during the climate change adaptation that has already begun and will last over the next 200 years under the 1C-degree soft landing climate change mitigation scenario;

(7) Same as point No. 5, but for the additional set of devastating destruction anticipated under a 2 degree average warming scenario under the probability that we miss the 1 degree scenario (planning for the devastation under any scenario higher than 2 degrees is probably not rationally supported).

These tasks, steps, challenges, go far beyond the traditional role of planning, but not beyond the theoretical domain or ultimate contribution of planning. The local comprehensive plan, as Bruce so aptly points out, is the place to start. But effectively addressing the challenges of producing sustaining places and a sustaining planet in the comp plan will take planning and planners far beyond the traditional realm into leading multi-stakeholder sustainability business planning in their business communities, to multi-stakeholder sustainability planning that includes the place’s supply chains and industries. It will require highly effective and innovative cross- and multi- jurisdictional governmental policy and legislative initiatives to neutralize existing regulations that generate unsustainability now and to create the new regulations that will drive the transition to the new prosperity and opportunities of a sustainable/regenerative economy.

History is clear, we cannot leave these tasks to the politicians or the business community, but we cannot accomplish the tasks alone. It is either a collaborative win for all or a loss for all. In this regards, the reconceptualization of the comp plan as a key vehicle and driver for democratic local sustainability planning that understands/pursues the systems linkages required to drive the needed sustainability transformation in the few short years we have left to lay the foundation is right on target.