Monday, April 20, 2009


In the 1970's, Congress enacted NEPA which required environmental impact statements to assess the environmental impacts of major public improvements receiving federal funds. Most states followed with similar state environmental impact laws and regulations. Unfortunately, until recently no other major initiatives have been undertaken to assess the environmental impacts of urban developments. Today, however, numerous organizations are developing methods to help architects and urban planners assess the carbon footprint and other environmental impacts of developments. These methods include new add-on software for CAD design programs that allow architects to calculate not only the carbon footprint of buildings, but the amount of waste materials generated during construction and the water usage of buildings. As we as a society move forward with an increased emphasis upon the sustainable design and planning of our urban communities, we need to develop even more methods to assess the environmental costs and carbon footprint of our human-built environment.