Sustainable Consumption: The Challenge and Opportunity

In just twenty years, by the time today’s toddlers reach college, global consumption will have fundamentally changed: 2.6 billion new consumers will have joined the middle class, expecting and demanding the same quality of life that Americans enjoy today. Low-income consumers will represent a market of another $5 trillion.

According to the Global Footprint Network we would need five planets to sustain consumption if everyone lived like the average American and those numbers are based on resources available now. Availability of resources, from freshwater to indium, continues to decline. China’s announcement last month of further reductions in its exports of rare earth metals, critical for manufacturing everything from cell phones to electric cars, shows that companies are already facing serious limitations on resources. Clearly, something needs to change.

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Backyard solutions to urban planning issues

BERKELEY — The tiny cottage may have a big future, if a recent open house in Berkeley is any indication.

Some 500 visitors, including state and local elected officials, environmental leaders, representatives of the buildings trades, academics, neighbors and the just-plain-curious, flocked to a new, 420-square-foot cottage to examine it as a possible wave of the future.

The small, orange-colored home was built in the backyard of Karen Chapple, a University of California, Berkeley, associate professor of city and regional planning and faculty director of the Center for Community Innovation. She is heading a study funded by the UC Transportation Center to determine how many of these accessory homes could be built around five Bay Area Rapid Transit stations in the East Bay, and how they might affect the local economy.

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A Professor’s Tiny House Is a Model for Different Living

The San Francisco Chronicle features an article today about a tiny house with a big impact that is sitting in a professor’s backyard. Karen Chapple, an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of California at Berkeley, worked with students in engineering and design to build a 450-square-foot house that is a “net-zero energy” structure — that is, through solar panels, it produces more energy than it uses.

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Berkeley zero net energy cottage deserves study

Karen Chapple’s just-built second home looks exactly like what it is: a cottage that packs 450 square feet of living space into a traditional shell with a pitched roof, warm wooden walls and a shaded front porch.

Old news – except that it sits tucked behind a century-old bungalow on a quiet Berkeley block with neighbors close on either side, stealth infill that in its own discreet way deserves study by every city where the need for housing outstrips the supply of obvious land.

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A Berkeley Professor’s Tiny Backyard Cottage

When Professor Karen Chappel asked some students in UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design to design her backyard cottage, they came up with the structure you see above: a 450-square-foot cottage that’s net-zero energy and incorporates solar panels.

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Little House Could Mean Big Environmental and Housing Gains

Politicians, environmentalists, academics, builders and the curious packed a tiny house and the yard surrounding it in West Berkeley Saturday to talk about what many of them said could be the next big thing for communities like El Cerrito.

Among those gathered were El Cerrito Mayor Ann Cheng, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, state Senator Loni Hancock and Jeremy Madsen, the executive director of Greenbelt Alliance.

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City of Berkeley Guest House Ribbon Cutting by New Avenue

Over in Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for a 420-square foot cottage in the backyard of a home on Delaware Street. What’s all the fuss about? One company thinks creating small, sustainable secondary units on private property is the alternative to creating unsustainable suburban sprawl. And Berkeley agrees.

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A city looks for big solutions in little – very little – houses

On Saturday, Mayor Tom Bates will cut the ribbon on a new home on Delaware Street in Berkeley. It’s not every day a city leader takes the time to welcome a new dwelling into his fold, and this home is not big, nor particularly special; in fact it’s positively diminutive at just 420 sq ft, and can rightfully be described as a backyard cottage. So one might wonder why it warrants an “opening party” with dignitaries in attendance, sponsors — even a salsa band.

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Clinton Global Initiative

When Kevin Casey proposed the idea of constructing homes which emit no carbon dioxide to a Design for Sustainable Communities course at University of California Berkeley, an impressive team of engineering and urban planning graduate students signed on to test the idea. After testing the business plan for financing and building second units, the team found that there were both regulatory and technological changes that made this a viable and meaningful business. After the class Casey had a well tested and research business plan, but no clients, no capital to push the idea forward. That’s where CGI U came in.

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Greenbelt Alliance

Just one month after Greenbelt Alliance endorsed New Avenue, Inc.’s model for creating sustainable in-law homes, the company is nearing completion of its first in-law suite in Berkeley.

New Avenue uses an innovative development model that weaves small cottages and in-law suites into existing backyards throughout our communities. This vision for development aligns with our Grow Smart Bay Area goals, which calls a for 5% increase of in-law units in appropriate Bay Area neighborhoods.

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