We recently attended a discussion hosted by the Forum for Urban Design comparing models by four designers for a low to no carbon cities recently proposed in Asia and the Middle East.  We’ve all seen designs encompassing large swaths of urban [and in many cases soon to be urban] fabric and proposing to transform it through technological feats of power generation, water management and other ecologically regenerative possibilities.
Equally interesting here was an emphasis on defining ‘eco’ beyond the technological.  Panelists engaged in a discussion of the interdisciplinary platform of city, nature, ecology and culture.
This type of discussion always brings us to think about whether or not we could commit to infrastructure at this scale in the U.S., in this economic cycle,… in any upcoming economic cycle?  While we are not saying start a new city, we do wonder how we can leverage the lessons learned of creating an economic and ecological link between developments tied to infrastructure systems that work on multiple levels [energy, water, waste, transportation, etc].
An example of the importance of this link is thrown in sharp relief by Matthew Wald’s recent nytimes post on The Energy Dilemma.  Must we keep asking if the investment is worth it?  When will we rethink the word value, not just in monetary terms but also environmental consequence?  Otherwise, we will watch as other countries set performance standards that leap frog our American counterparts.  Meanwhile, we’ll keep our eyes out for new energy legislation.  That’s up next, right?