This article from Architect profiles a few of these projects and looks at how they address regional issues at a small scale.
"A building is not just a building. It's part of the ecology of the built environment-a vast interconnected web of components and elements as varied as transportation, water, jobs, and energy. These are the concerns faced by the regions within which buildings stand. Increasingly, macro long-term concerns are weaving their way into the design processes of architects and planners.
A number of projects nationwide epitomize detailed consideration of regional issues, from energy production to transportation infrastructure to affordable housing. Water is often seen as the most important regional concern. With watersheds and aquifers that can span states and serve tens of millions of people, it is increasingly important for projects to use both an appropriate amount of water and reduce reliance on aging water infrastructure and centralized water-treatment facilities."