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The Green Leap

The Green Leap: A Primer for Conserving Biodiversity in Subdivision Development

Mark E. Hostetler
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 205
  • Book Info
    The Green Leap
    Book Description:

    Written for anyone interested in green development-including policy makers, architects, developers, builders, and homeowners-this practical guide focuses on the central question of how to conserve biodiversity in neighborhoods and to minimize development impacts on surrounding habitats.The Green Leapspecifically helps move green development beyond the design stage by thoroughly addressing construction and post-construction issues. Incorporating many real-world examples, Mark Hostetler explains key conservation concepts and techniques, with specific advice for a wide variety of stakeholders that are interested in creating and maintaining green developments. He outlines the key players and principles needed to establish biodiverse communities and illustrates eight key design and management strategies.The Green Leapnot only offers essential information for constructing new developments but also helps existing communities retrofit homes, yards, and neighborhoods to better serve both people and nature.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95187-7
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. PART ONE. Key Principles and Players

    • [PART ONE. Introduction]
      (pp. 1-4)

      Imagine this, a gathering of policy makers, environmental consultants, developers, landowners, and members of the public, all assembled in a room to discuss a land use change to make way for a proposed residential development. The focus, though, is how to make it a green development, and everybody in the room is interested in creating a community that is livable, walkable, and energy-efficient, and which conserves biodiversity. Speaker after speaker stands up to discuss a particular topic and makes a case for this issue or that issue. Typically a land use map is displayed on a screen, and a heated...

    • CHAPTER 1 Why Build Biodiverse Communities?
      (pp. 5-18)

      Why worry about urban biodiversity? Why not just concentrate on biodiversity conservation outside the boundaries of cities? First, the millions of people who make daily decisions in urban environments can have huge impacts on local and regional natural resources. We have crossed a threshold around the world: more than 50 percent of the world’s population resides in urban areas.¹ Over the past century, we have learned that local decisions have global consequences and global decisions have local impacts. Building communities takes a vast amount of natural resources; think about the energy required to make and transport building materials to create...

    • CHAPTER 2 Urban Decision Makers
      (pp. 19-30)

      A cross-section of society (residents, developers, policy makers) makes decisions that interact in specific ways to affect natural resources. Usually, growth management conflicts are win-lose; on one side developers want to develop a piece of land with very few restrictions, and on the other side environmentalists want to stop the development. These conflicting entities end up in court, and one side wins and the other side loses. But a middle ground is achievable, and communities can grow and strive to reduce their negative impacts on biodiversity.

      The “greenness” of communities is the result of collective decisions made by residents, developers,...

  6. PART TWO. The Devil Is in the Details

    • [PART TWO. Introduction]
      (pp. 31-36)

      Incorporating biodiversity conservation into the design and management of residential communities is a tall order and is often plagued with uncertainties and unknowns. As discussed earlier in the book, community biodiversity conservation can be maximized through environmentally sensitive development techniques, and it provides economic and social benefits. In the United States, the public is very interested in green development, as indicated by the hundreds of state ballot initiatives that have been proposed.¹ Researchers are beginning to measure the positive (and negative) impacts of green communities.² In the end, the creation and maintenance of a functioning green community is shaping up...

    • CHAPTER 3 Tree Protection and Natural Area Preservation Strategies
      (pp. 37-78)

      Natural areas, even single trees, found on a site are valuable resources; conserving them enhances biodiversity and is part of the larger effort to conserve natural resources. If topsoil is scraped away and large trees are chopped down, it sometimes takes hundreds to thousands of years to reestablish the same collection of species. In particular, the soil on a site is full of soil biota, including thousands of beneficial bacteria, worms, and fungi. If the soil has not previously been disturbed, it is also an excellent source of local seeds. Preserving local topsoil and above ground vegetation will conserve animals...

    • CHAPTER 4 Improving Community Engagement and Understanding
      (pp. 79-89)

      No matter what has been built, preserved, or landscaped, a community actually conserves biodiversity over the long term only when residents areengaged.Studies have indicated that most residents who live in conservation subdivisions do not understand and are not aware of the appropriate management practices for maintaining homes, yards, and neighborhoods in terms of natural resource conservation. A study in Florida found that residents of one conservation subdivision did not differ from, or scored lower than, residents of “conventional” communities on several questions about environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.¹ In another comparative study, buyers of new homes in conservation...

    • CHAPTER 5 Landscaping and Individual Lots
      (pp. 90-109)

      Built lots, cumulatively, take up a large portion of a subdivision. Even if a subdivision has conserved natural areas, the sum of activities in each individual yard can dramatically affect these conserved areas and reduce biological diversity. Yard designs and management can also affect natural areas miles away from residential developments, by means of such things as nutrient runoff and the escape of invasive plants installed in yards. Water runoff can carry large loads of pollutants into streams that ultimately transport these nutrients to other water bodies. Invasive exotic berries originating with landscape plants are eaten by birds, and the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Trails, Sidewalks, and Common Areas
      (pp. 110-115)

      Enjoying the outdoors fosters a connection to and appreciation of local environments, and it promotes community interaction and a sense of community. Building pedestrian trails and sidewalks can help bring people outside to experience nature and interact with each other. Some research indicates that a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood does enhance a sense of community.¹ As expressed earlier, a sense of community is critical to engaging homeowners in adopting environmentally friendly behaviors. If people know their neighbors and are able to communicate with them, then environmental behaviors that are tried by a few people can spread to the rest of the community....

    • CHAPTER 7 Irrigation and Stormwater Treatment
      (pp. 116-136)

      Water quantity and quality issues are major concerns for many municipalities. Dealing with water issues usually entails focusing on potable water supply, flooding, and the way local water sources are affected by stormwater runoff. When people consume too much water, this means, of course, that less potable water is available. Flooding can occur when stormwater running off impervious surfaces is not properly managed in urban developments. While improper water management directly affects humans, water consumption and stormwater runoff also affect local natural communities. This is true especially concerning the management of yards. Often when people think about water consumption, they...

    • CHAPTER 8 Wildlife-Friendly Transportation Systems
      (pp. 137-145)

      Whether moving within their home ranges or migrating from one region to another, wildlife species traverse a landscape. Subdivisions have roads that could inhibit the movement and dispersal of wildlife species. Because of the danger of crossing roads, many species may not attempt to cross them, and cars kill many individuals that do. Roads have the potential to disconnect wildlife populations and effectively stop animals from getting to and from certain natural areas. As mentioned in chapter 3, connectivity is important for wildlife populations, because the health of a regional population of animals is contingent on the ability of individuals...

    • CHAPTER 9 Environmental Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions
      (pp. 146-151)

      In the United States, covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) are legal documents (sometimes called deed restrictions) that dictate how properties in a subdivision look and how they are managed. CC&Rs, which derive from English common law, are procedures for property ownership and land transactions. Simply stated, CC&Rs are promises that the buyer makes as a condition of purchasing the land from either a developer or a previous owner. The CC&Rs are filed with the land records in the county or city where the land is located. When developers subdivide a piece of land, they cut an existing piece of land...

    • CHAPTER 10 Certifying Green Communities
      (pp. 152-162)

      With heightened international and national awareness about sustainability, both the public and governments are putting pressure on businesses to offer more environmentally friendly choices for consumers. There is a growing market for master-planned communities containing green features such as energy-efficient homes and natural open space. Independent certifying groups have evolved to produce green standards for developers so they can receive awards or certificates that establish their communities as green. Developers can then market these communities to consumers and get premium prices for their homes.

      The validity of green certification programs has been questioned, because many of these programs can be...

  7. In Summary
    (pp. 163-172)

    Throughout this book, I have emphasized the importance of design and management, the three phases of development (design, construction, and postconstruction), and the hierarchy of decisions made in and for green communities (by residents, developers, and policy makers). To conserve biodiversity, a variety of people must be engaged in the creation and maintenance of a subdivision development. Policy makers create the enabling conditions in which developers and residents implement novel solutions; developers build the framework of a community, which shapes how homes, yards, and neighborhoods perform; and residents make daily decisions that promote or hinder the conservation value of subdivisions....

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 173-184)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 185-197)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 198-198)