Chapter 14 : 'Land Use', in Melanie Thompson, ed, Closing the Loop: Benchmarks for sustainable building (2004) RIBA Enterprises Limited pp189 -210. ISBN 1 85946 118 2
This chapter for the book “Closing the Loop” was jointly written with Katrin Bohn and Prof. Sue Roaf (Oxford Brookes University). The chapter focuses primarily on land use in cities, presenting a brief historical overview, current assessments of the likely impacts of climate change, and emerging strategies for mitigating these impacts while improving the quality of urban life. We had been asked to contribute to the land use chapter based on Prof. Roaf’s familiarity with my earlier work on the embodied energy of materials and the life cycle analysis of low energy dwellings and Katrin Bohn and my developing design research into productive urban landscapes.
The chapter introduced the concept of site yield which we developed as a measure of the proportion of consumables that could be harvested utilizing renewable energy or biological systems from within the boundary of a given a site. Site yield included a measure for the production of fruit and vegetables cultivated using urban agriculture and in this way linked directly to our developing work investigating the role of urban agriculture and Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes “CPULs” (see CPUL Scholarly Portfolio). The book Closing the Loop provided practitioners with a comprehensive overview of current thinking and objective benchmarks with which to assess the relative merits of different sustainability strategies.
Including urban agriculture within the discourse about sustainable urban design was significant, as the prevailing view was that the denser a town or city, measured by the number of occupants per unit area, the more sustainable the development would be. This view arose out of a superficial reading of the influential report Urban Task Force Report, “Towards an Urban Renaissance” published in 1999. The Urban Task Force Report made clear the importance of developing compact cities to reduce transport requirements, but did not take account of the environmental impact of remote food production. The significance of the site yield measure is that it suggested a framework for undertaking a comprehensive assessment of a developments environmental impact. The relationship between density of development and the potential proportion of fruit and vegetable requirements met from within a typical development was indicated within a chart, providing practitioners with guidance to achievable yields.
Reviews indicated that the book addressed the concerns of a number of professionals operating within the built environment and educational sector.
"This book is invaluable in that it brings together these procedures and establishes a set of common indicators that begin to define the elusive concept of sustainability."
(Reviewed for RIBA Bookshops by Peter Clegg of Fielden Clegg Associates)
"Sue Roaf and her team at Oxford Brookes have occupied a position at the forefront of environmental design research and brought together in one volume the social and environmental benchmarks that architects, developers and planners need to be aware of if we are going to reverse the disastrous trends of the last few decades and move towards a genuinely sustainable built environment. This book also offers design guidance and information on tools and techniques to enable new developments to meet those benchmarks. Anyone concerned with design, the evaluation of green architecture and with distinguishing between real and bogus claims by architects and developers, will find this book indispensable."
"This is a fantastic primer in all things environmental. It also represents a very useful resource because of its comprehensive and up to date references. If you aren’t quite sure about the issues surrounding the sustainability of materials, or assessing energy use in dwellings, then this is a great place to start."
(Institute of structural engineers review by Edward Hoare, August 2007)
"In conclusion, this book is an excellent source of background information on social and environmental issues related to buildings. The references included make it a good starting point for investigating issues in depth. http://cebe.cf.ac.uk/resources/books/ Accessed 13 august 2007"
(from a review by Paola Sassi of the Welsh School of Architecture)