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Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post Carbon World

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Overview

Questions of how to green the North American economy, create a green energy and transportation infrastructure, and halt the deadly increase in greenhouse gas buildup dominate our daily news. Related questions of how the design of cities can impact these challenges dominate the thoughts of urban planners and designers across the U.S. and Canada. With admirable clarity, Patrick Condon discusses transportation, housing equity, job distribution, economic development, and ecological systems issues and synthesizes his knowledge and research into a simple-to-understand set of urban design rules that can, if followed, help save the planet.

No other book so clearly connects the form of our cities to their ecological, economic, and social consequences. No other book takes on this breadth of complex and contentious issues and distills them down to such convincing and practical solutions. And no other book so vividly compares and contrasts the differing experiences of U.S. and Canadian cities.

Of particular new importance is how city form affects the production of planet-warming greenhouse gases. The author explains this relationship in an accessible way, and goes on to show how conforming to seven simple rules for community design could literally do a world of good. Each chapter in the book explains one rule in depth, adding a wealth of research to support each claim. If widely used, Condon argues, these rules would lead to a much more livable world for future generations—a world that is not unlike the better parts of our own.

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Editorial Reviews

Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, University of California at Berkeley - Harrison Fraker

"Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities is a must-read. It is exhaustively researched and empirically grounded in the unknown or forgotten histories of real examples. Condon's manual presents a compelling and detailed vision for how cities can be transformed and contribute to planetary survival."
Journal of Planning Education and Research

"Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities is a compact, informative handbook to one of the most profound and intricate planning challenges of our time... Condon prescribes very specific and useful solutions ... Condon has assembled a concise, cogent plea to search for design strategies for the post-carbon world in our own backyards—as well as our streets, sidewalks, driveways, roods, houses, blocks, parks, waterways, and the planning policies we devise together to govern them"
Practicing Planner

"Seven Rules is worthy of our attention because it improves our understanding of how urban form affects greenhouse gas production. In referring to an imminent 'planetary meltdown' (p. 10), Condon sounds an alarm bell about global warming. Yet, he brings the discussion down to the level of designing individual sites, building neighborhoods, retrofitting cities, and promoting smart growth in regions. Planners who want to respond to the warning bell but have not yet deciphered exactly what can and should be done at local and regional (rather than national and global) levels will benefit greatly from Seven Rules."
New Urban News

"Condon's intimate understanding of his neighborhood—of how a series of different elements work together to make Kitsilano a satisfying human habitat—ogives depth and persuasiveness to his Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities, one of the best books I've read on urban planning in the era of climate change."
Goldstream Gazette

"Professor Condon sums up the opportunities well: 'If we change the way cities are built and retrofitted, we can prevent the blackest of the nightmare scenarios from becoming real and can create the conditions for a livable life for our children and grandchildren. It is not apocalyptic to say we can save their lives.'"
Planning

"While some of this has been said before, Condon offers a fresh take on the material. He starts with an uncompromising view of the reality and menace of climate change. His thesis is that urban areas are responsible for 80 percent of all greenhouse gases and that, therefore, fixing cities must be a priority...The shift in thinking Condon calls for is sizeable and has barely begun. 'No responsible planner, architect, landscape architect, politician, or developer,' he writes, 'can escape the moral imperative to change the way he or she does business.'"
Re:place Magazine

"Professor Patrick Condon uses his impressive knowledge of urban planning and his years of research and teaching at the University of British Columbia to create a comprehensive set of rules that may help to secure our future on this planet. His rules are simple and realistic, and are supported by extensive data. Although the rules themselves are not new ideas, Condon's ability to simplify and apply them to current urban design situations is impressive and inspiring...Well-written, concise, and thorough, this should not only be a required reading for students, but should be on the shelves of every planner, developer, architect, landscape architect and engineer in the city...Condon should be highly-praised for his ability to take the world's most complex problem and outline a set of realistic, and exciting solutions."
Landscape Architecture Magazine

"For Condon, climate change is a fact, not a debate, and one (along with unsustainable dependence on cars and increasingly unaffordable infrastructure maintenance costs) that demands a response. Although it's clear that he's passionate about the impact of our current lifestyle on the natural world, he makes his points with data and lessons from the field, not emotion or aesthetic critiques. Issues are framed in terms of how they affect people's lives, not in abstractions about atmospheric temperature changes. Reading this book, you can just about believe a retrofit is possible."
Landscape Journal

"A slim 166 pages, the book is rich in ideas and well-articulated arguments for those ideas. It frames the problems of our existing urban forms clearly and proposes solutions. The writing is organized and well illustrated with examples. It is very accessible to the casual reader and well suited to policy-makers, elected officials, and the public at large. This is the book to hand to elected officials to help them understand the issues and possible solutions for making their communities more sustainable...Fundamentally, Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities is about the design of cities. While it gives a comprehensive review of many strategies and techniques for achieving sustainability, its real value is the provision of an intelligent framework for integrating them into comprehensvie designs and master plans. The book sets a direction that the discipline of landscape architecture would do well to pursue as part of its research agenda."
Dean, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin - Frederick Steiner

"Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities builds on reflective practice to suggest better ways to design communities. In doing so, Professor Condon puts forth the essential building blocks for constructing the post-carbon city."
Director of City Planning, Vancouver, British Columbia - Brent Toderian

"Professor Condon's deep familiarity and engagement with the Vancouver model of city-building, and many other models from across North America, lends practical credibility to this much-needed book. With clear rules and real solutions, this is the kind of book practitioners and engaged citizens need to read."
Planning

"While some of this has been said before, Condon offers a fresh take on the material. He starts with an uncompromising view of the reality and menace of climate change. His thesis is that urban areas are responsible for 80 percent of all greenhouse gases and that, therefore, fixing cities must be a priority...The shift in thinking Condon calls for is sizeable and has barely begun. ''No responsbile planner, architect, landscape architect, politician, or developer,'' he writes, ''can escape the moral imperative to change the way he or she does business.''"

New Urban News

"Condon''s intimate understanding of his neighborhood - of how a series of different elements work together to make Kitsilano a satisfying human habitat - gives depth and persuasiveness to his Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities, one of the best books I''ve read on urban planning in the era of climate change."

— Philip Langdon

Practicing Planner
"Seven Rules is worthy of our attention because it improves our understanding of how urban form affects greenhouse gas production. In referring to an imminent ''planetary meltdown'' (p. 10), Condon sounds an alarm bell about global warming. Yet, he brings the discussion down to the level of designing individual sites, building neighborhoods, retrofitting cities, and promoting smart growth in regions. Planners who want to respond to the warning bell but have not yet deciphered exactly what can and should be done at local and regional (rather than national and global) levels will benefit greatly from Seven Rules.

I offer four other observations in recommending Seven Rules. First, I applaud Condon for appropriately denigrating decade-old minimum school parcel size standards, which set acreage provisions so high that they make small schools within walking distance of neighborhoods impossible. Second, Condon also alludes to reasons why conventional zoning needs to be overhauled. He points out that because ''most new jobs don''t smell bad'' (p. 87) we no longer need to separate most industries from our homes. Further, he remarks that the ''zoning habit has not caught up with the changing nature of jobs'' (p. 87). His indictment of zoning, however, is stronger in other parts of the book, particularly with regard to socially ''heinous'' patterns of densities that result from most zoning codes (p. 102). Third, his blending of historical perspectives of planning (with references to Jane Jacobs, Ian McHarg, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the like) adds increasing value to urban designers and academics alike. Fourth, Condon demonstrates keen understanding of infiltration, natural processes, and nature-based infrastructure. He is adept at comparing performance of natural systems with conventional ''pipe'' drainage systems.

Seven Rules is well-illustrated and well-substantiated in terms of the literature. It is convenient to read because literature references are provided in footnotes on the same page as the narrative. He advances green infrastructure and green building concepts beyond what the literature has offered to date. Sufficient attention is paid to the social equity perspective, especially with regard to housing issues. Finally, Seven Rules is a source of inspiration for local planners and urban designers. We can make a huge difference in bringing about more sustainable development practices."

— Jerry Weitz, FAICP

Goldstream Gazette

"Professor Condon sums up the opportunities well: ''If we change the way cities are built and retrofitted, we can prevent the blackest of the nightmare scenarios from becoming real and can create the conditions for a livable life for our children and grandchildren. It is not apocalyptic to say we can save their lives.''"

Re:place Magazine

"Professor Patrick Condon uses his impressive knowledge of urban planning and his years of research and teaching at the University of British Columbia to create a comprehensive set of rules that may help to secure our future on this planet. His rules are simple and realistic, and are supported by extensive data. Although the rules themselves arae not new ideas, Condon''s ability to simplify and apply them to curent urban design situations is impressive and inspiring...Well-written, concise, and thorough, this should not only be a required reading for students, but should be on the shelves of ever planner, developer, architect, landscape architect and engineer in the city...Condon should be highly-praised for his ability to take the world''s most complex problem and outline a set of realistic, and exciting solutions."

— Ellen Zeigler

Journal of Planning and Education Research

 "Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities is a compact, informative handbook to one of the most profound and intricate planning challenges of our time... Condon prescribes very specific and useful solutions ... Condon has assembled a concise, cogent plea to search for design strategies for the post-carbon world in our own backyards - as well as our streets, sidewalks, driveways, roods, houses, blocks, parks, waterways, and the planning policies we devise together to govern them"
Practicing Planner - Jerry Weitz
"Seven Rules is worthy of our attention because it improves our understanding of how urban form affects greenhouse gas production. In referring to an imminent 'planetary meltdown' (p. 10), Condon sounds an alarm bell about global warming. Yet, he brings the discussion down to the level of designing individual sites, building neighborhoods, retrofitting cities, and promoting smart growth in regions. Planners who want to respond to the warning bell but have not yet deciphered exactly what can and should be done at local and regional (rather than national and global) levels will benefit greatly from Seven Rules.

I offer four other observations in recommending Seven Rules. First, I applaud Condon for appropriately denigrating decade-old minimum school parcel size standards, which set acreage provisions so high that they make small schools within walking distance of neighborhoods impossible. Second, Condon also alludes to reasons why conventional zoning needs to be overhauled. He points out that because 'most new jobs don't smell bad' (p. 87) we no longer need to separate most industries from our homes. Further, he remarks that the 'zoning habit has not caught up with the changing nature of jobs' (p. 87). His indictment of zoning, however, is stronger in other parts of the book, particularly with regard to socially 'heinous' patterns of densities that result from most zoning codes (p. 102). Third, his blending of historical perspectives of planning (with references to Jane Jacobs, Ian McHarg, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the like) adds increasing value to urban designers and academics alike. Fourth, Condon demonstrates keen understanding of infiltration, natural processes, and nature-based infrastructure. He is adept at comparing performance of natural systems with conventional 'pipe' drainage systems.

Seven Rules is well-illustrated and well-substantiated in terms of the literature. It is convenient to read because literature references are provided in footnotes on the same page as the narrative. He advances green infrastructure and green building concepts beyond what the literature has offered to date. Sufficient attention is paid to the social equity perspective, especially with regard to housing issues. Finally, Seven Rules is a source of inspiration for local planners and urban designers. We can make a huge difference in bringing about more sustainable development practices."

New Urban News - Philip Langdon

"Condon's intimate understanding of his neighborhood - of how a series of different elements work together to make Kitsilano a satisfying human habitat - gives depth and persuasiveness to his Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities, one of the best books I've read on urban planning in the era of climate change."
Re:place Magazine - Ellen Zeigler

"Professor Patrick Condon uses his impressive knowledge of urban planning and his years of research and teaching at the University of British Columbia to create a comprehensive set of rules that may help to secure our future on this planet. His rules are simple and realistic, and are supported by extensive data. Although the rules themselves arae not new ideas, Condon's ability to simplify and apply them to curent urban design situations is impressive and inspiring...Well-written, concise, and thorough, this should not only be a required reading for students, but should be on the shelves of every planner, developer, architect, landscape architect and engineer in the city...Condon should be highly-praised for his ability to take the world's most complex problem and outline a set of realistic, and exciting solutions."
Landscape Architecture Magazine - Linda McIntyre

"For Condon, climate change is a fact, not a debate, and one (along with unsustainable dependence on cars and increasingly unaffordable infrastructure maintenance costs) that demands a response. Although it's clear that he's passionate about the impact of our current lifestyle on the natural world, he makes his points with data and lessons from the field, not emotion or aesthetic critiques. Issues are framed in terms of how they affect people's lives, not in abstractions about atmospheric temperature changes. Reading this book, you can just about believe a retrofit is possible."
Landscape Journal - Robert Sykes

"A slim 166 pages, the book is rich in ideas and well-articulated arguments for those ideas. It frames the problems of our existing urban forms clearly and proposes solutions. The writing is organized and well illustrated with examples. It is very accessible to the casual reader and well suited to policy-makers, elected officials, and the public at large. This is the book to hand to elected officials to help them understand the issues and possible solutions for making their communities more sustainable...Fundamentally, Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities is about the design of cities. While it gives a comprehensive review of many strategies and techniques for achieving sustainability, its real value is the provision of an intelligent framework for integrating them into comprehensvie designs and master plans. The book sets a direction that the discipline of landscape architecture would do well to pursue as part of its research agenda."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597266505
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 4/23/2010
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick M. Condon is a Professor at the University of British Columbia, affiliated with the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments. He is the author of numerous books including Design Charrettes for Sustainable Communities (Island Press).

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