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How the Green New Deal Could Transform the Built Environment

If it emulated and adapted the scope of its predecessor, the Green New Deal could transform the country in fundamental ways, with builders, planners, and architects playing central roles.
July 27, 2019, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Rachael Warriner

Two futures may be in store for the country, Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan writes. "Escalating storms, floods, droughts, mass migration, food scarcity, and economic instability could dramatically alter the physical landscape and economy." Or, more optimistically, "A national effort to retrofit millions of buildings and rethink the way communities are designed could help Americans withstand the ravages of climate change and make the country more equitable."

Discussing issues of bureaucratic reform, land use, architecture, labor, and equity, Campbell-Dollaghan outlines what it might take to implement the Green New Deal. That includes environmental retrofits for "tens of millions of houses and apartment buildings," an endeavor that would employ an immense workforce and necessitate a lot more federal oversight of local affairs.

The Green New Deal also bakes in an explicit focus on equity, with consequences for housing affordability and the workforce. "A renovation program on this scale could have many unintended effects" on vulnerable populations that policymakers would need to address.

Campbell-Dollaghan also discusses how the Green New Deal could truly engage architects and designers in the oft-talked about project of sustainable, equitable development. "The resolution poses an opportunity for architects and designers to reclaim their relevance to society, not as service providers for wealthy clients but as vocal leaders on major issues in the built world, like social justice and climate change."

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Published on Monday, June 24, 2019 in Fast Company
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