The Hidden Potential of Sustainable Neighborhoods: Lessons from Low-Carbon Communities By Harrison Fraker


The terms “low-carbon” and “zero-carbon” are now frequently bandied about in planning dialogues regarding sustainable neighborhood development. These terms—used in the context of neighborhood design and planning—possess increasing currency given the problem of climate change. In the past, zero-energy goals have been perceived as desirable but lofty and difficult or even impossible for planners and designers to achieve. However, in an era of adaptation to climate change, resilient infrastructure and built form is both warranted and necessary. Harrison Fraker—a pioneer researcher and professor in passive solar, daylighting, and other sustainable design techniques—presents this imperative with striking resolve in his new book. Fraker attempts to raise awareness about the “hidden potential” of sustainable infrastructure through an analysis of several best practice case studies in Europe. Exploring progressive neighborhoods at the forefront of environmental design in Sweden and Germany, the book outlines how planners, architects, and urban designers can design and build zero-carbon neighborhoods. Fraker chooses the four German and Swedish case studies specifically because the energy and performance data were available for the purposes of comparative evaluation. The case studies ultimately indicate that low-carbon communities are no longer a futuristic fantasy, but are now a reality.

About the Author

Nicola Szibbo is a PhD candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.