All in all, we had a mixture of good, disappointing, and great news for smart growth and sustainability in 2009. Taking a long view that considers where this issue was fifteen or even ten years ago, I remain very optimistic.
For most of the US Green Building Council's LEED for Homes award winners, the residences' green features will be offset by the damage caused by the sites' automobile dependence, and distance from jobs and services.
To reduce the country's excessive energy consumption, we need to make our new and existing suburbs more like cities. This means embracing the principles of smart growth and transit-oriented development.
Most small New England cities were once booming industrial centers, but over time they became subject to considerable disinvestment in the form of plant closings, job losses, weakened civic infrastructure, and shrinking tax bases.
Most of the issues of growth, mobility, equity and the environment that we address here are fundamentally regional in character. But our political mechanisms place most of the authority for dealing with them at the smallest levels of local government.
The maps demonstrate vividly that, although emissions on a per-acre basis are greatest in highly urban areas, it is in the suburbs and outlying areas where we pollute the most on a per-household basis.