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Comment – Reshaping our cities….

Posted in Models, Policies, Research, Visions by Ferne Edwards on April 2nd, 2008

The section below is republished with permission from the Going Solar Transport Newsletter #52, 25 March 2008, compiled by Stephen Ingrouille. Going Solar, This newsletter provides an excellent commentary on local sustainable transport issues in Melbourne.

Reshaping Our Cities
“If the long term vision existed, we could rezone our ever-evolving cities and accrue some fantastic oil-saving benefits quickly. Let us look at the example of steering suburban home building in the right direction. Folke Günther — a Swedish author — writes that the natural attrition rate of old suburban homes is about 1.6% per year. (This is based on a 60 year home lifespan, so is a safe enough figure to work with. I dont see Australian suburban homes lasting longer than that, do you?) That is, 1.6% of Swedish homes are demolished and rebuilt each year. Demolition means the potential for change, because when a home has reached the end of its lifespan, it does not have to be replaced with a similar building and a similar function on the same old real estate space. That space can be rezoned and used for other purposes, but I’ll describe the shape of this change below. Right now I am discussing the speed of the change that normal home demolition rates could allow. If we took charge of city change in the right direction, 1.6% per year means that we could reshape the city by 16% in a decade, or 32% in 20 years, or even 64% over 40 years. In other words, if we made the appropriate zoning law changes, we could reduce suburbias need for oil transport by 64% in just 4 decades at the rate of change cities are already experiencing anyway! All it requires is the vision and political will to grab the reigns of this beast and steer it in the right direction.”
Ref: ‘Eclipse, ABC TV Difference of Opinion: Are We Running On Empty? 27/7/07

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