CNU E-Update
December 2010


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CNU Looks Back on a Fantastic 2010

...and forward to an even better 2011!

It has been a successful year at the Congress for the New Urbanism. We continue to push for the fundamental change that not only makes your job designing and developing cities easier, but improves our cities for everyone.

We released the CNU/ITE Manual, worked towards closing down the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans, pushed for Fannie Mae reform, and had a successful Congress in Atlanta.

Urbanity faces tough challenges. When there are issues, CNU is the "go-to" organization for best practices and resources to help you better design and develop cities.

Registration Now Open
Don't wait to sign up!

Join us June 1-4, 2011, in Madison, Wisconsin, for our annual Congress. We encourage you to take some time out of your busy holiday schedule to explore our online program and registration info. Register early to put your 2010 budget to good use.

Seven reasons to come to CNU 19 in Madison:

  1. Excellent Guided Tours, Plenaries, Salons, and the Charter Awards
  2. The Madison farmers market on the Capitol Square
  3. Hear speakers William Cronon, Stefanos Polyzoides, Earl Blumenauer, Michael Dennis, Fred Koetter, and Will Allen
  4. Watch Andres Duany and Charles Waldheim discuss New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism
  5. A refreshment on the legendary Memorial Union Terrace overlooking Lake Mendota
  6. More 202s (advanced classes) than ever before
  7. A stroll down State Street, the "Main Street" of Madison

Check out the provocative article by Andres Duany, a founding member of CNU, continues to attract attention and comments. If you missed the article, or want to read the dozens of comments, please go to the link.

Don't miss this opportunity to network with colleagues, learn about New Urbanism, and experience everything this beautiful city has to offer.

Wisconsin and Ohio Send Back High-Speed Rail Money
Effects already being felt

Wisconsin and Ohio lost their combined $1.2 billion in stimulus dollars to make passenger rail improvements that were intended to eventually be part of the Midwest high-speed rail network. This is a major loss for not only Ohio and Wisconsin, but travelers throughout the Midwest who will continue to be forced to rely on an aging road and air travel system for business travel and vacations. Read our recent Salon post here.

Initial economic fallout include train manufacturer Talgo announcing that they will shut down their operations in Milwaukee.

On the bright side, other states such a Illinois and California will benefit from the redistributed money.

CNU Pushes District Energy
Supports Thermal Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act of 2010

CNU has decided to throw its support behind the Thermal Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act of 2010. The act, which is currently working its way through the House and the Senate, seeks to promote district energy. If passed, the federal government would begin offering incentives to promote the use of district energy. The act "would expand tax-exempt bonding; develop a renewable thermal energy generation tax credit; and reauthorize and expand the energy efficiency and sustainability grants of the Department of Energy."

For those of you who have never heard of district energy, it is a sustainable alternative to our current method of heating and cooling homes. Water is heated or cooled at central locations using a variety of means (coal, solar, geothermal). That water is then distributed through pipes to office buildings, homes, and stores. This method helps the environment "by increasing energy efficiency, reducing air pollution and decreasing emissions of ozone-depleting refrigerants." Using district energy also eliminates a building's need for a cooling tower, which opens up the roof to gardens, pools, or whatever else people want to put up there. LEED-ND also recognizes the environmental benefits of district energy, giving credits for district heading and cooling (Green Infrastructure and Buildings Credit 12).

For more information on the important of district energy, check out this article.

For the full text of the bill before the Senate, go here.

LEED Rating System Open For Public Comment
Give Your New Urbanist Perspective before January 14, 2011

Proposed updates to the LEED rating systems have been released for public comment and CNU encourages you to take a look. Changes are being proposed for LEED for Neighborhood Development, as well as a number of the other LEED rating systems. USGBC is hosting the online comment form on their website. To submit your comments, visit the LEED Rating System Public Comment page. After a simple sign-in, members of the public can comment on the specific prerequisites and credits that were revised.

What Are Other Members Saying?

Laurence Aurbach has a great summary of the proposed changes to the Location and Transportation section present in a number of the rating systems. Also check out the position statement the CNU Rainwater-in-Context Initiative has drafted in response to the LEED-ND Rainwater Management Credit and Mike Lydon's take on the Bicycle Network and Storage credits. And if you have recommendations yourself, let other members know on the CNU Salons.

Proposed Changes to Building Construction and Design

The influence of LEED-ND on the other rating systems is becoming more and more apparent. The proposed changes in the Building Design and Construction document, which affects the New Construction, Core and Shell, Schools, New Construction Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, and Warehouse & Distribution Centers rating systems adds a new section titled Location and Transportation (LT). The LT Credits heavily borrow key concepts from LEED for Neighborhood Development. Be sure to check out Laurence Aurbach's article Location, Transportation and Urban Design in LEED 2012. Here are some highlights:

  • adds walkable streets credit from ND to other rating systems.
  • adds bicycle network credit components from ND to other rating systems
  • elevates bicycle storage to a prerequisite, but doesn't distinguish between visitor and occupant storage like LEED-ND.
  • transit credits are not just about proximity to a transit stop, but now focuses on the level of transit service within 1/4 mile walk distance radius.

Proposed Changes to LEED-ND

Having been released just this year, the LEED-ND rating system is undergoing some minor grammatical updates on most credits. However, there are a few credits where more significant changes are proposed, most heavily concentrated in the Green Infrastructure and Buildings portion of the system. Of particular interest to new urbanists are changes in these four credits:

  • reduces the amount of secured, enclosed bicycle storage required for retail workers and other non-residential occupants (see SLL Credit 4: Bicycle Network and Storage)
  • increases the level of transit service required for projects with regional-serving retail of 150,000 or more square feet (see NPD Credit 3: Mixed-use Neighborhood Centers)
  • changes the intent of the rainwater management credit to restoring natural hydrology instead of limiting overall watershed disruption (see GIB Credit 8: Rainwater Management (formally stormwater))
  • removes CNU Accreditation as path to achieving optional Accredited Professional (see IDP Credit 2: LEED Accredited Professional) and doesn't specifically require LEED-ND AP as the compliance path.

For more information, read CNU's Rainwater-in-Context Initiative Subcommittee Reviews LEED-ND Rainwater Management Credit by Nora Beck and LEED-ND Bicycle Network and Storage Credit: A Few Recommendations by MLydon from our members blog.

New Urbanists Push Fannie Mae Reform
Delegation meets with National Association of Home Builders President

On Tuesday Dec. 14 a delegation of CNU and National Town Builder assn. members met with Jerry Howard, President of the National Association of Home Builders. He and his staff were receptive to CNU/NTBA's proposal to reform limitations on mixed use development in several Federal programs. We later met with Asst. Secretary Rafael Bostic, Chief Economist at HUD. New Urbanists have called for relaxation or elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's restrictions on non residential development that discourage mixed use walkable development. Currently mortgages are excluded from Fannie Mae's secondary market if more than 20% of a development is non residential. Sam Sherman, a CNU Board member pointed out that "most commercial streets( "Main Streets") would flunk this test". Bill Tuyn, a CNU member and a member of the National Assn. of Home Builder's Board, told Bostic that " we want the freedom to build housing in urban settings." Secretary Bostic said he shared our concern and would discuss the issue internally within HUD and get back to us. Mr. Howard and his staff at NAHB was also supportive and urged Bill Tuyn to prepare a resolution for consideration at the next NAHB board meeting. Frank Starkey, Chair of the NTBA, said that "the market wants more urban product and the government needs to facilitate not discourage walkable mixed use neighborhoods."

The delegation left the meetings hopeful that NAHB may join our coalition and that HUD is moving toward supporting our position.
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To submit your own posting to the CNU Members Blog, click here.

Upcoming Events on CNU Event Calendar
Check out

CNU Florida 2011 Statewide Meeting

January 27, 2011 - January 29, 2011

Seaside, Florida

Smarter Codes, Smart Growth: How to Achieve Your Smart Growth Goals Through Zoning Code Reform

February 2, 2011

Westin Charlotte Hotel - Charlotte, NC

The Death & Life of Social Factors: A Conference Reexamining Behavioral and Cultural Research in Environmental Design

April 29, 2011 - May 1, 2011

Berkeley, CA

To post on event on the event calendar, click here.

10th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference: Building Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities Conference
February 3-5, 2011 - Charlotte, NC

Today, more than ever, we are faced with environmental and economic challenges that will define our generation, shape our future, and test our resilience as cities, regions, states and a nation. Join leaders from across the U.S. as we tackle these challenges head-on and demonstrate smart growth solutions that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create a green economy, assure a healthy population, and expand transportation and housing options for all Americans.

The program will kick off on Thursday morning and continue through Saturday afternoon and includes a dynamic mix of plenaries, breakouts, implementation workshops, specialized trainings, and coordinated networking activities. Exciting tours of local model projects from Charlotte, NC and surrounding cities will be featured. There will be something for everybody, from veteran experts to smart-growth novices, with nearly 90 sessions and workshops. Learn from hundreds of speakers who cross disciplines to share insights, and valuable tools and strategies for making smart growth a success in your community.

Visit to get more details.

The Groves Award
2011 Call for Nominations

The Award
The Groves Award recognizes outstanding leadership and vision in the promotion of Transect-based planning. The rural-to-urban Transect is a shape-sorter to order places from the rural hinterland to the dense urban core. Human beings thrive in different habitats, some in more urban areas, some in the country, and others somewhere in between.

Transect-based code is a type of zoning code that allows us to have a choice. Regardless of where one chooses to reside, walkable access to the full transect provides a richer life. The transect functions as a framework to ensure that development occurs in context with the character of each place, in a walkable, compact, mixed-use, transit-oriented, sustainable fashion.

Transect-based planning reverses the damaging, auto-centric development patterns that have dominated growth in North America over the last 60 years. Use-based zoning separates destinations into monocultures of pods -- residential, commercial, retail, civic, industrial -- accessible only by cars. Many social, economic and environmental maladies are a direct result of use-based codes.

This award honors Ken Groves, the late Planning Director of the City of Montgomery, Alabama. His leadership in using transect-based land development to create better communities is a gift that he left for all. Through his planning and development leadership, Alabama's capital city began its journey back to prominence and sustainability.

Eligibility of Candidates and Sponsors

Any public official, elected or staff, except for the sitting jury, is considered eligible for the Award. Nominations may be submitted by either the public or private sector, by members of the CNU, members of the TCC, or any other professional planning affiliation. Nominations submitted with the endorsement of an entire group will be given appropriate consideration by the Jury.

Elements of the Nomination SubmittalDownload the 2011 Call for Nominations Form here and return via email by January 15, 2011 to The Groves Award will be given jointly by the Transect Codes Council and the Congress for the New Urbanism. The inaugural award will be presented at CNU19  in June, 2011.

About the Congress for the New Urbanism
The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading organization promoting regions, cities and towns built around walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods.  Learn more.