Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Livable and Inclusive Cities

Posted by Leah Severino
July 21, 2011
People Plant New Community Farms on a Chicago Housing Authority Development Site

Eleven finalists from the global competition, "Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Livable and Inclusive Cities," participated in the first Learning Summit and Award Ceremony this week at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. This competition was launched in anticipation of the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Colombia, and in support of President Obama's Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA). It brought together a diverse group, including individuals from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ashoka Changemakers, and the American Planning Association, with support from the Brazilian Ministry of Cities.

Practitioners from the public and private sectors exchanged ideas about the challenges of urbanization. Capacity building sessions, mentoring opportunities, and panel discussions supported the shared effort to create a network of urban planners who promote green building, energy efficient housing, and sustainable transport to low-income communities.

How is the U.S. government involved? We are committed to exploring innovative ways to address the effects of climate change on marginalized communities in urban areas. We encourage the development of homes that use architectural design and construction material that create more sustainable, energy-efficient housing.

Proposals that reached the final phase of the Ashoka/Rockefeller competition presented innovative solutions for sustainable, energy-efficient housing that unleashes economic opportunities for the urban poor and builds smarter, cleaner cities around the world. Eight of the finalists and the three winners are from organizations in the Western Hemisphere. The competition winners from Argentina, Brazil, and the United States were chosen through global public voting and will receive $10,000 from Ashoka Changemakers to scale up their projects.

In remarks during the award ceremony, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Jacobson also announced that the Department of State intends to provide $1.1 million in U.S. assistance to support sustainable and inclusive housing efforts in the Americas. She said, "The mission will be to harness the ideas that have emerged from this competition, and assist local sustainable and inclusive housing organizations in the Americas in taking these concepts to the next phase of planning and operation.” The 2012 Summit of the Americas will showcase these ECPA success stories.

Click <a data-cke-saved-href=" href=" title="here target=" _blank"="">here to view the Sustainable Urban Housing finalists and winners.



United States
July 22, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

Urban planners got us into this mess, so they obviously are not the answer to sustainable cities.

It was "urban planning" that distanced residential areas from business areas, thereby forcing everyone into automobiles to go shopping. Obviously none of these planners could foresee the end of cheap fuel, the air quality problems and water supply problems of concentrating large populations in small regions.

Urban planning presumes that the state owns the land and that government employees know the highest and best uses for land. Government employees, however, have little or no stake in the outcome of their work. They retire and move elsewhere, knowing they will never have to endure the mess they've created of our cities and urban areas.

The hopes and plans of land owners, the people themselves, are thusly ignored, stifled, and frustrated, with general plans that make no sense and endanger the population by excessively concentrating them in smaller and smaller zones of habitation.

Concentrating populations in urban areas renders them vulnerable to contagious diseases, mass extinction in time of war, and total dependence on a poorly-maintained government infrastructure.

Urban planning, in summary, is an urban disaster waiting to happen. There is nothing sustainable about it except for the misery it may someday bring to those who live in planned communities.

New Mexico, USA
July 22, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Leah,

At some point folks will find a certain equasion in which the ratio of mature trees to squate yard of concrete and asfault, glass and steel, that would off-set the reflective heat index of urban areas.

My dad spent 40+ years as chief Architect and structual engineer on many big commercial projects, schools, hospitals, DOE facilities, a few Marriots, and his biggest challenge was in getting the buildings to fit in with their surroundings, and that wasn't just a matter of athetics and styles.

Form and function was key.

My son in law earned his degree in city planning and he understands the value of tree cover.

Too often it is a utility company that deems them a nuisance and cuts them down, but there's workarounds to natural design flaws in the landscaping.

On a more macro level , when faced with the global security challenges of climate change and city planning I don't need to go off on what a rise in sea-levels would challenge folks to build, but there's a much larger challenge for the whole of humanity in terraforming our planet to meet the threat to our very existance as sustainable.

For one, as tundra melts, a massive connifer forest must be planted to absorb the carbon release.

To do this, as well as various "green walls" to slow desertification, the international community can't simply address its own deforestation, but in a combined effort we may become greater than the sum of our international parts, in partnership.

Those currently displaced in refugee camps need more than basic sustinance, they need a plan to help rebuild their lives and nations.
Planting trees is as about the most politically nuetral activity I can think of, to provide jobs and hope.

Conflict must end, for the good of all as a prerequisite.

Walk the road to peace, or rest in peace, there will be peace when this is done.

Or the planet is done with us.



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