Building a Sustainable Suburb

In Rohnert Park, CA, developers are turning a former industrial site into a green community that is almost completely energy independent. But can a project like this fit into an auto-oriented suburb?
February 20, 2009, 1pm PST | Tim Halbur
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"Greg Searle, executive director of BioRegional North America, admits that they can't control the environmental impact residents will have when they leave the development. But the development company has done an enormous amount to improve the efficiency of the systems within the Sonoma Mountain Village, meeting the small community's water, energy and transportation needs with state-of-the-art green features like on-site renewable energy. BioRegional asserts that "every resident is no more than a five-minute walk to groceries, restaurants, day care and other amenities offering local, sustainable, and fair trade products and services."

The village center, which was designed around the reuse of existing buildings, will include a year-round farmers market, grocery stores and other businesses, entertainment options, and telecommuting desks. Alternative transportation services will be plentiful: free bikes, electric vehicles that connect to the smart grid, a biofuel filling station, plug-in hybrid carshare, and carpool concierge services. Thanks in part to lobbying by Codding, a commuter rail line linking the suburb to nearby cities has also been approved, and will be a ten-minute walk from the community."

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Published on Thursday, February 19, 2009 in WorldChanging
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