Friday, September 19, 2008

Farr Side

Hopped over to the Sustainable Tennessee Regional Opportunity Forum with Doug Farr this morning.

I heard Farr speak a few months ago at the Sustainable Shelby kick-off and he's always an engaging speaker. He cited some of the usual statistics: between 1970 and 2005, the average American house got 60 percent bigger while the average American family got smaller. In the U.S., people drive more than 10,000 miles per capita each year.

One thing he likes to talk about is how neither more efficient light bulbs nor hybrid cars nor "green" buildings will reduce CO2 enough.

"It's not about the efficiency of objects," he said. "As things become more efficient, we use them more."

Instead, sustainable urbanism ("walkable, transit-served urbanism integrated with green buildings and high performance infrastructure") becomes a way to conserve. When looking at vehicle miles traveled, for instance, the most important factor in reducing the amount of travel is destination (the other factors interrelate — design, diversity of uses, and density).

"It's about how we organize our lives," Farr said.

If neighborhoods are dense, have a mixture of residential, business, and retail, and it's easy to get from one place to another, people will be more likely to forgo their cars.

Will probably have more later. Stay tuned.


Naomi Van Tol said...

Exactly... and that's why Target is such a holy grail for so many midtowners.

marycash said...

And here I thought it was just for the reasonably priced wares ...

Actually, next time I see you I'll have to tell you where I live. You'll find it funny.

Polar Donkey said...

So the plan is design cities like it was 1900 and use green technologies. Truly back to the future.

marycash said...

Pretty much. Farr said he thinks history has all the lessons.