LEED ND, Socionatural Hybrids & Emerging Urban Planning Contests Gary Martin, Geography & Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. The U.S. Green Building Council’s suite of building rating tools is ten years old this year. The newest tool in the LEED suite, LEED ND, was released in the U.S. in March, 2010. LEED ND reflects the understanding that sustainability is about relationships between neighborhoods and the rest of the world, especially in or near cities. However, scaling up from individual structures to neighborhoods complicates urban planning. How does LEED ND fit into emerging planning paradigms and what are the implications for planners and developers in North American cities? To answer these questions, this poster explores the difference between houses, homes and neighborhoods using a combination of Castree (2001) and social nature, political ecology as elaborated by Swyngedouw & Heynan (2003), and Whatmore’s (2002) concept of hybridity as a conceptual framework. Figure 1: A House Figure 1 features a house as a material structure – a shelter from weather and society. To simplify, this house is in the suburbs where North Americans build around one million houses like this per year. Note that there are no people in this house so there are no exchanges of energy or materials with the rest of the world, as in Figure 2. Figure 2: A Home $ $ Waste Water Energy Water Heat CO 2 Figure 2 is the same house but with people. House, inhabitants and the surrounding non-human environment have combined into a socionatural hybrid, i.e. a home. Notice the similarity to a nucleus with exchanges of material and energy through membrane/walls. A home interacts with the environment differently than a house. For example, if a house is aimed at the sun it will exchange energy a certain way, causing the inhabitants to adjust interior temperatures. Or, situate a house close to jobs and shopping and the inhabitants will put less carbon into the atmosphere. This is why GBCs and builders want to alter how builders construct housing, and this is where LEED ND is intended to assist in the combination of houses and other buildings into neighbourhoods. Figure 3: A Neighborhood $$ Electricity Water Heat Groundwater degradation, encroachment on farmland, pollution of air and soils, etc. Social capital & community networks CO 2 CLIMATE CHANGE & WEATHER Resilience & passive survivability Electronic world POLITICS & GLOBAL ECONOMY Consumer culture (i.e., large lots & houses) & effects on global environment Transportation to work, school and shopping Transportation to work, school and shopping Figure 4: A Neighborhood as a Socionatural Hybrid $$ Electricity Water Heat Groundwater egradation, encroachment on farmland, pollution of air and soils, etc. Social capital & community networks CO 2 CLIMATE CHANGE & WEATHER Resilience & passive survivability Electronic world Who built it? For whom? Where? Why? POLITICS & GLOBAL ECONOMY Consumer culture (i.e., large lots & houses full of stuff) & effects on global environment Building & energy codes greenwashing Out-dated infrastructure NIMBY and public ignorance Historical ecological negligence Legal System (e.g. real estate & property law, inheritance, taxation, municipal zoning and codes, ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS Transportation to work school and shopping Figure 3 plants the home in a neighbourhood. Complexity grows exponentially in the homes as hybrids interact with politics, economics, the local to global environment, as well as consumer culture and its habits. All of the homes are inhabited by people with webs and patterns of exchange and interaction with each other and their surroundings. Exchanges occur across multiple scales, compounding local to global environmental impacts. Figure 4 adds more layers of complexity, such as social equity and social capital, both of which are essential for sustainable neighborhoods. This diagram also includes consumer culture, another social variable, and the associated environmental impacts in a capitalist world market economy, as well as the effects of history and public ambivalence about environmental issues. The concepts of social nature, political ecology and hybridity help to highlight interactions between buildings, humans and the non-human world which result in pollution and climate change. Figure 1 features a house as an impermeable shelter. Figure 4 features a neighborhood as a group of nuclei with permeable membranes through which people conduct exchanges with the socionatural world. The structure in Figure 1 is neither sustainable nor unsustainable: it is inert and neutral. Figure 4 demonstrates that the buildings, infrastructure and public spaces specified by LEED ND are necessary but not sufficient components of sustainable neighborhoods. Every arrow in Figure 4 symbolizes human decisions, actions, relationships, networks and impacts over time, which are at least as important as the physical structure for fostering or impeding neighborhood sustainability. Virtually all of these actions and impacts occur “through the membrane” as symbolized by the arrows, and most of the arrows indicate sources of contest now or in the near future between homes, planners, developers, builders and the global environment. Planners and developers can no longer ignore the hybrid nature of neighborhoods and urban sustainability. References: Castree, N. (2001). ‘Socializing Nature: Theory, practice and politics’, in Noel Castree and Bruce Braun, eds., Social Nature: Theory. Practice, and Politics. Malden: Blackwell. Pp. 1-19; Swyngedouw, E., and Nik Heynan (2003). ‘Urban political ecology, justice and the politics of scale’, in Antipode, 35(5), pp. 898-918; Whatmore, S. (2002). Hybrid geographies: Natures, cultures, spaces. London: Sage. I thank Brad Robinson, friend, fellow builder and visionary, for the idea of a home as a nucleus.