Study establishes a new community design typology addressing three realms of sustainability; ecology, economics and equity, and provides a planning model that meets the specific needs of elderly or mobility-impaired citizens. Environmental domains investigated range in scale, beginning with global and national macro-scale issues of climate change, energy consumption and air quality. An intermediate meso-layer encompasses state, regional and community scales, examining transportation systems, land-use and zoning, and bio-communities home to humans, wildlife and habitat. At micro-scales, housing, neighborhood connectivity, and caring networks are explored.
A new utopian design prototype is applied to a case study urban-village in the fragile desert ecosystem of Phoenix; juxtaposed with its rapid, sprawling development. Relationships between natural and built environments are weighed alongside ecological and economic concerns of current and future generations of living beings. The increasing needs of an elderly and mobility-impaired population infer a co-requisite of social sustainability and implicate issues of equity.
Measures of Livability and Sustainability (L & S) are gathered, graphed and quantified by frequencies, coded in word/term patterns, then filtered to essential elements through logical argumentation. Intersects of access and energy explicitly reoccur across a continuum of environmental domain scales, and two primary models emerge to represent eighteen leading measures of L & S (www.opl.uk and www.aarp.org, 2009).Validation is substantiated through multiple research methods: Case study; observations and interviews; focus groups; action research, ethnography and content analysis. Preliminary findings indicate elevated measures of accessibility and energy-efficiency are correlated with better livability and greater sustainability.
An LSI matrix is overlaid with case study's Phoenix General Plan (2004) along with criteria from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ([LEED] USGBC, 2009). Through cross-referencing village objectives with LS indicators and LEED criteria, benchmarks for solutions are identified; corroborated by interview, ethnography and focus group participants. Findings reinforce that community accessibility ensures livability, and built environments that maintain ecological health also promise better quality health for human users. Recommendations are developed based upon novel design-planning strategies, and proposal viability gauged according to how well both sustainability and livability solutions are met simultaneously. The result is the Sustainable Design Guide.
Primary groups of governing bodies are identified as partnership drivers-of-change capable of implementing proposed joint solutions, also uncovering shared stakeholder needs across public and private stakeholders and exposing opportunities for merged operations and pooled resources. Three tiered strategies are developed for each partnership group, fulfilling essential livable, sustainable urban-village goals.
Social learning is a paradigmatic research platform of sustainability education, and provides justification for text and design drawings accessible to both academics and practitioners. The Sustainable Design Guide text and house-plans are intended for a wide audience that includes public/private developers, builders, planners, designers, and scholars.