Sustainable Land Development??

usgbc-logo Being green is everywhere.  We all started by recycling common materials.  But now, it has influenced the architecture / engineering / construction market. There are organizations now that rate how “green” are buildings are. Why does this matter to us “dirt” guys?  After all, we implement BMP’s for cleaning runoff and employ soil erosion measures to mitigate construction.  sldi-headerWhat’s the point? Can I be so optimistic that the business world actually cares about the environment for future generations?  Hhmm…..

Let start by saying I am hopeful that the “American way” can and should include being responsible and disciplined when it comes to land development. But let’s not fool ourselves.  Profit seems to be the motivating factor. Which is fine, but let’s dive into this and see what Sustainable design is about.

According to, they are “dedicated to promoting land development around the world that balances the needs of people, planet and profit – for today and future generations.”  At least they are honest.  🙂 

The US Green Building Council has created the LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System. “LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development’s location and design meet accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development.”

Alright, that all sounds great, but how does this manifest itself in a given design? What’s really different?

Let’s start by asking how do we design something that doesn’t compromise future generations.  That implies that current design already compromises future generations.  What is the compromise?  Lifestyle? Resources used to create said developments? Environmental impacts?  This all seems to point to how we design, not necessarily what we design; “it’s the fundamentals stupid.” 🙂 

Do we envision land planning the way we think is the best way (think back to the idealisms we all had in college) or the way the municipality allows us to maximize our client’s investment?  In a perfect world, these would be the same design. But we know this to be a compromise on some level on every project, if we’re truly honest.

In future posts, I’ll throw out a few suggestions and see how they match up with “people, planet & profit” with the intention of how to best accomplish “green” design in Civil 3D!


About Kevin
Hi… I am a husband, father, brother and neighbor. I am employed as a Civil Engineer and have enjoyed playing the drums for the last 30+ years.

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