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Daily Journal of Commerce: Spreading ideals of new urbanism

The Congress for the New Urbanism prepares to open a Cascadia chapter, including a branch in Portland

POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It’s become clear that the Pacific Northwest is leading the way in sustainable building design and urban planning in the U.S. Now an advocacy and education organization, the Congress for the New Urbanism, has taken notice and intends to get involved.

The Chicago-based organization will soon open a regional “Cascadia” chapter, with branches in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

The 20-year-old CNU works to promote and facilitate the tenets of new urbanism. For the built environment, this means constructing walkable cities with ample green space and public transportation.

“A lot of people in the Northwest are transplants from elsewhere, so we thought we’d come here and expand ourselves as well,” CNU spokesperson Lauren Hauck said.

With the formation of the organization’s Cascadia chapter, Hauck said the short-term goals of the CNU include getting developers, architects and city planners to become members, and getting government officials to institute new urbanism concepts.

Long-term goals for the organization include bringing its national convention to the Pacific Northwest in 2011.

It’s unlikely the organization will set up shop in Portland until later this year. It plans to file for nonprofit tax status at the end of October.

“Most of our initial programs will focus on educating people on what new urbanism is,” Hauck said.

As a concept, new urbanism arose in the 1980s in Florida, when fast-developing midsized cities were looking to create community hubs that were easy for pedestrians to navigate. Many of the early new urbanistic developments were cities, suburbs or exurbs designed and built from scratch, said Hauck.

But in the already-established city of Portland, the nascent organization is expected to support the city’s existing sustainable building services, according to Ralph DiNola, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design consultant and principal with Green Building Services.

“They’re going to bring a welcome perspective to urban planning,” DiNola said, “especially when it comes to the edges of the city where there’s underdeveloped or undeveloped land. There will be a focus on the smaller nodes and communities.”

The Congress of the New Urbanism will also be promoting the concept of LEED for Neighborhood Development, or simply LEED-ND, which the organization created in conjunction with the U.S. Green Building Council.

The new designation promotes dense residential clusters, based around public transportation, located near city centers and typically developed on infill sites.

Though it’s still in its pilot phase, LEED-ND certification has been awarded to two Portland projects: The Eliot Tower and Helensview Homes.

“As we start broadening our view of green buildings and we start saying, ‘It’s not just about one building at a time but rather about building green communities,’ we need to look at how we build communities,” DiNola said. “There’s only so much we can do with one single building.”


One Response to “Daily Journal of Commerce: Spreading ideals of new urbanism”

  1. LEED-ND is a partnership of CNU, USGBC and the Natural Resources Defense Council, not justy USGBC and CNU. The real location efficiency science, the stuff that really makes ND unique, comes from NRDC.

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