Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
Go Big To Go Green
"Your mental image of a green city might resemble designer fantasies such as Ebenezer Howard's Garden City or Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City-sleek towers nestled in lush forests, where a stroll down Main Street would feel like a walk in the woods. Or maybe you're thinking of small towns such as Hastings, Neb. (population 25,000), which Yahoo! just named "the greenest city in America." Or you might have in mind something more nostalgic, like Grover's Corners, the fictional hamlet made famous in Thornton Wilder's Our Town, New Urbanism's literary ancestor. Modest developments with lots of green space must be the answer, right?"
"Wrong. New research reveals that bigger is better. This spring, a groundbreaking study led by Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute showed that cities conform to the phenomenon known as 'biological scaling.' All organisms operate in similar ways, regardless of size-metabolically, an elephant is a lot like a mouse, just bigger. More important, the larger the animal, the more efficiently it uses energy. Cities are the same-the larger they are, the more economical. Analyzing various data including electrical use, gas consumption, and lengths of roads, West and his team found that 'regardless of size and location, cities conform to certain universal dynamics-just like biological organisms.'"