Texas Hold 'Em
City planners in Austin, Texas, are considering an ordinance that would help developers and conservationists find common ground. The measure would encourage cluster development that corrals buildings into small pockets, thus leaving larger swaths of open space untouched, the Austin Business Journal reports. Incentives for developers would include waived fees, expedited permits, and annual lump sum payments (based on conserved acreage) to compensate for missed opportunity costs.
Green Collar Jobs
If saving the planet isn't enough incentive to build more sustainably, Oakland, Calif.-based activist Van Jones is plugging one more benefit to green building: domestic job creation. Jones is founder of Green for All, a campaign urging Congress to set aside $1 billion by 2012 to train 250,000 disadvantaged youth and young adults in green building trades. Presented as a means of harnessing the green economy to raise many of America's blighted urban markets out of poverty, the campaign was launched at former President Clinton's Global Initiative in New York last month. www.greenforall.org
Landscape design has long been part of the sustainability equation (think xeriscaping, stormwater management, organic composting) and now it's official. A new rating system for sustainable landscape design has been launched by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden. Similar in bent to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system, which gauges the environmental impact of buildings, ASLA's Sustainable Sites metrics will measure the eco-friendliness of all kinds of landscaping projects, including public, commercial, and residential green spaces.www.sustainablesites.org
Home builders claiming that they haven't gone eco because their buyers don't want it may want to rethink that position. The market for green homes is expected to jump from $2 billion to as much as $20 billion over the next five years, and homeowners are already specifying green products for 40 percent of their current remodeling work, according to a recent study by the National Association of Homebuilders and McGraw-Hill Construction. The survey also found that most Americans find out about green homes by word-of-mouth, and that green homeowners tend to recommend green homes at rates that are significantly higher than referral levels of other industries.www.analyticsstore.construction.com