Do American-Style Sustainable Communities Work Abroad?

Architecture and urban planning experts discuss whether the United States can successfully export greener living

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American culture pervades the world—music, movies, cars, consumption. Not all of it is good.  But surely sustainability is good, yes? While many cultures are ahead of us on the sustainability curve, not all are.

So: Do American ideas of sustainable communities, smart growth, and urbanism work elsewhere? Here are a couple of leading architectural thinkers discussing the challenges. First, my friend Dhiru Thadani is interviewed by another friend, Steve Mouzon, at the annual meeting of the Congress for the New Urbanism earlier this year. Dhiru is an Indian American with a highly experienced perspective on Indian cities and culture:

Next, new urbanist Stefanos Polyzoides discusses some of the traps that await attempts to export U.S.-style progressive planning theory to other cultures:




This post also appears on NRDC's Switchboard.
Images: Vincent Desjardins/flickr; Google Earth

Presented by

Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More

Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.

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