Sustainable planning is more than just a list of features. It is an intricate balance of pragmatic concerns, each one resolved for the best ecological solution, allowing for the inclusion of future innovations. Sustainable design is not merely cramming all of the possible (or imagined) features into a plan. It is a painstaking process of creating places that fit human interaction so well, in all of our contradictory needs for connection to each other, to nature and for privacy, that they do not merely sustain life and the biosphere, but create delight.
As complex as sustainable community design may be, there is one overriding concern. If these places are not created to maximize human delight, then they will remain uninhabited, and so fall. It is comparatively easy to list all of the features that an ideal community should contain. But arranging those features to create enjoyment and to support a deepening connection of the individual with their community is an art that goes far beyond theory. Far beyond models of systems. It is an art that requires years of careful study, and practical experience in making spaces for humans to thrive physically and emotionally.
With years of successfully complete projects on the bleeding edge of sustainable community design, Village Habitat Design has that experience. VHD principal, Greg Ramsey, learned sustainable community at his father's knee. Greg Ramsey, professor of architecture at Georgia Tech, and at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where they studied the most graceful and sophisticated sustainable communities extant. Looking beyond mere systems and processes, the Ramseys dug deep into understanding how the built forms supported a vibrant community life, Greg's own study at Beaux-Arts developed his design skill to bring extraordinary art to his designs.
Yet this was not sufficient to achieve their success in sustainable design. Greg was joined by Clayton Preston, whose degrees in psychology and architecture brought the necessary focus on how newly designed communities would be inhabited.
But still this was not sufficient to integrate the full range of human activity. Clayton continued his study of community economics and strategic planning, to be recognized by the American Planning Association at a Certified Planner.
Together Greg and Clayton realized that the market economy, which for decades had been considered by environmentalists to be the enemy, is actually a powerful ally in creating sustainable community. Well-conceived, well-crafted communities have great advantages in the market place. There are aspects of sustainable community that are less expensive to produce than conventional development. In recent years these developments have gained significant advantages in regulatory approvals. And as important as any factor, communities designed with the inhabitants in mind are highly marketable, typically commanding much higher prices than conventional development.
This has born out over and over again for VHD. From the Internationally acclaimed community at East Lake Commons, to the 40,000 acres of Atlanta's home county, to the reservation of the Catawba Indian Nation, to the island nation of Turks and Caicos, VHD consistently has developed and built the most successful sustainable communities in the hemisphere.
We have all seen a sea change recently; in public opinion, in corporate policy, in political rhetoric. Those of us who have been on the bleeding edge have been waiting for this moment in history. This is the time to apply experience and resolve to achieve our mission and gain the rewards.