Sustainable Design

What is sustainable development, and where can I find it in the Pinelands? We at PPA think sustainable development is development in the right places that uses land efficiently and is designed to be as "green" as technologically possible.
Unfortunately, almost all of the development that has occurred in the Pinelands over the last 25 years has been large-scale sprawling development.

To be truly sustainable, development must use land efficiently. That means filling the demand for housing, shops and offices on as little land as possible, rather than sprawling growth with large lots using up all the land assigned for development. Why is that important?

Because we only have so much land left, and it needs to be made to work for people, nature and open space.

So what does efficient development look like? Smart Growth America lists several elements.

1. Promoting growth in existing communities.

2. Using existing community assets.

3. Mixing land uses (e.g., housing and commercial).

4. Creating a range of housing opportunities and choices.

5. Creating walkable neighborhoods.

6. Promoting a strong sense of place by rehabilitating and using historic buildings.

7. Preserving open space, critical environmental areas, farmland, and natural areas.

8. Providing a variety of transportation choices.

9. Making development decisions predictable, fair and cost-effective.

10. Encouraging public participation in development

To create these elements in a community, municipal officials and concerned citizens should advocate for the following:

  • Creating a community master plan that identifies areas for growth and for conservation.
  • Creating more walking and biking paths.
  • Creating compact, mixed use (residential, commercial and office) areas.
  • Implementing traffic calming measures on busy streets.
  • Encouraging "green" building materials and practices.
  • Establishing pesticide-free zones.
  • Preventing stormwater from eroding soil and degrading streams.
  • Encouraging the use of green power and energy efficiency.
  • Preserving open space.
  • Passing ordinances to protect wetlands, steep slopes and other critical areas.
  • Advocating to redevelop brownfields and greyfields and encourage infill development.
  • Establishing environmental, historic preservation, and shade tree commissions to assist municipality with sustainable planning efforts.

PPA is advocating for clustered and compact development in the Pinelands. The Pinelands Commission has the opportunity to revise the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) to require clustered development in the Forest Area and Rural Development Areas of the Pinelands. In addition, the Commission is in the process of revising the Pinelands Development Credit (PDC) program, and PPA has advocated for measures that reward developers for efficient development rather than penalize them within the PDC program. In other words, reduce the PDC obligation where these measures are implemented and require increased PDCs for typical sprawl development.

PPA is pleased to offer a FREE Designing a Sustainable Community presentation for Pinelands communities. Contact Mike at to schedule a presentation.

Sustainable Design Resources

The following resources offer a broad overview of the various principles of sustainable design

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Regional Planning for a Sustainable America

Regional Planning for a Sustainable America: How Creative Programs Are Promoting Prosperity and Saving the Environment, edited by PPA's Executiive Director Carleton Montgomery, is the first book to represent the great variety of today’s effective regional planning programs, analyzing dozens of regional initiatives across North America.

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