2016 Challenge

Sustainable land development solutions using new methods

Almost all growth in this world is designed by engineers hired by developers. The engineers look at local regulatory minimums to squeeze every possible inch of residential or commercial yield - density. By holding to the most minimal dimensions allowed by regulation means that to service the resulting homes and commercial properties, the engineer must design the greatest possible road and utility main length consuming the land with pavement - not housing or retail square footage. This typically benefits the paving contractor and the engineer who charges typically a percentage of construction costs. In addition to create connectivity, side streets and lanes must be constructed, increasing paved surfaces even more. The typical residential or commercial development has about 25% of it's total surface in waste, again the paving and utility contractor as well as the engineer greatly benefit - the losers are the city who is left to maintain this excess of street and the residential and commercial users who pay higher for their home or rent. This is a worldwide problem. A discovery made a quarter century ago found that more efficiency could be gained by actually exceeding the regulation minimums and eliminating this 25% waste. A new approach as made possible by developing newer technology, far more powerful than present CAD systems, By using a meandering pattern instead of the typical rigid one, it is possible to exceed 100% of the street and utility main length in lot frontage while eliminating monotony. This more organic approach had a potential downside which could be a more confusing and time consuming to traverse street pattern. In order to eliminate this problem we researched newer forms of pedestrian and traffic systems. Instead of having walks simply follow parallel to the curb, we developed a dedicated trail system allowing complete neighborhood circulation independent of the street system combined with a wider meandering walk following the streets to invite a stroll over a drive. We then started measuring flow patterns for normal driving in terms of both time in transit and energy usage to create patterns that maintain flow, eliminating the many short runs so typical of today;s street patterns. By maintaining uninterrupted flow within a neighborhood we not only plummet time and energy used in transit, but also developed a main street approach to the neighborhood. Needless to say, constructing 25% average less street and utilities reduces energy needed in constructing development the same 25%. Also needless to say, those profiting from waste have aggressively fought against these new systems. The saving grace was that developers, builders, and most important home buyers have embraced this new era. A more organic pattern is less likely to need as much earthwork, saving trees and again, using less energy moving or removing earth. As far as the building envelope, we also researched new home designs that merge interior living spaces with the new adjacent openness surrounding the home, thus developing new forms of housing that increase livability and value without increasing construction costs. And lastly, we are starting to design neighborhoods with community solar systems which are owned in concert with every home sharing the benefit. A more localized solar system eliminates the need for rooftop systems and as such, the neighborhood can have both street trees and solar without one system blocking the sun of another, as well as having complete architectural freedom in home orientation not feasible with rooftop solar. Since 40% of the nations waste is in the form of home heating and cooling this is a very big thing. Over the past 25 years we have been perfecting these systems which have been embraced by over 300 land developers building over 1,000 neighborhoods in 47 States and 18 Nations. For the past decade we have been working on a system of quick training and incredibly easy to learn technology to take these concepts and develop a marketable system to replicate these results for new growth and redevelopment, and make sustainability much more than a meaningless buzzword on a consultants marketing material.



6 votes
Idea No. 150