Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation : Vol. 26, No. 1, p. 287-350 : Smart Growth and Green Building: An Effective Partnership to Significantly Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Leerssen, Anika E.
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Leerssen, Anika E.
This Article analyzes the aggressive, creative strategies of promoting sustainable growth illustrated in the proposed federal surface transportation bill, Oregon’s new law, and California’s recent anti-sprawl legislation. This Article also reviews Portland, Oregon’s green building policy as well as California’s statewide policy, and concludes that strategies that reform the permitting process to provide an incentive for infill green building development are ideally suited to fulfill the mandate of Oregon’s S.B. 1059—or any state’s respective goal to achieve sustainable growth and consequently reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, this Article advocates adoption of form-based codes for infill development that incorporate green building elements as a method to spur construction within city centers and along transit corridors. Due to the inherent flexibility of green building rating systems, this technique allows a community to tailor infill building projects to adhere to a particular standard form11 and yet still include desirable compact, mixed-use, and connectivity components that have been proven to significantly reduce GHG emissions. Importantly, this Article proposes to modify the traditional building permitting process to allow for approval through a state council if a particular project conforms to the local government’s form-based code and includes certain smart-growth characteristics. In this way, the very nonlocal impacts of GHG emissions from lowdensity car-dependent development can be redressed by the state, while at the same time ensuring the local community’s concerns are addressed in the first instance. This balanced approach provides local governments the continued ability to control their community’s sense of place and also effectively reduces GHG emissions.