Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's a One Planet Community?

We've been debating between using different frameworks and rating systems for this project. We do plenty of LEED work, and all of Windmill's projects to date have been LEED Platinum. We like a lot of things about LEED, and have great fondness for the good people at the Canada Green Building Council but we wanted to push the envelope even further (though we may still register under LEED for Homes - that debate to follow). We also quite like the PassivHaus approach and will be shooting to meet PassivHaus standards (much more to come on that), but PassivHaus is really an energy standard and we all know sustainability is much broader than that.
Our preferred framework to date has been One Planet Communities, developed by the innovative and entrepreneurial UK based ENGO called BioRegional (www.bioregional.com). Over the past four years we have been enlisted as senior technical consultants for a small handful of proposed One Planet Communities in California, Alberta, Washington DC and Montreal. The framework is based upon 10 Principles (check out the principles here - .http://www.oneplanetcommunities.org/technical/index.html). The Principles are clear, ambitious, based upon ecological footprint methodology, and pretty much cover the gamut of sustainability principles we think are important.
Normally One Planet Communities limits themselves to working with developments larger than 1000 homes. Lots of good reasons to work on this scale - allows for true mixed-use communities, generates great publicity, allows for innovate energy solutions and so on. However some recent work on One Planet Suburbs, and a recognition that we need to deal with the building stock we already have if we are going to achieve true sustainability, has led them to at least consider including our project in the fold as a pilot. We've been having the discussions with BioRegional and BioRegional North America and hope to know shortly whether we'll be able to have some kind of formalized arrangement with One Planet Communities, and the participation of BioRegional North America's Executive Director Greg Searle.

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