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Gold plating is when we make changes to projects that are outside the scope of the original plan, resulting in increased time, expenses, and waste. Gold-plating presents barriers to accomplishing good urbanism in the form of initial financial costs that can completely block growth. A lean infrastructure approach to city planning focuses on smaller, incremental improvements instead of sweeping, inefficient upgrades. It prioritizes long term well-being, expandable and scalable projects, and building community competency and ownership of their neighborhoods. The document provides a theoretical and historical overview of infrastructure planning and lessons learned from past mistakes to help city planners move forward with a recommitment to designing workable solutions that support civilization in an economical and sustainable fashion.
While big businesses dominate global markets, command the entrenched financial and banking powers and are incentivized by misguided government policy, emerging startups can disrupt the status quo and prove that local economies can compete successfully if they connect with their customer base and build capacity through local networks. The challenge for Lean Urbanism is to take charge at the association and neighborhood levels: to monitor, harness and replicate emerging local business successes and through bottom-up vigilance to influence top-down policy to change not just the economic dynamics of a region, but strengthen its cultural, social and built landscape.
Most communities have assets hidden within that are not utilized or underutilized. A Lean Scan identifies these assets and determines the reasons that they are not used efficiently. The Lean Scan helps to reveal possible partnerships between built, financial, social, and natural resources that could become the foundation for incremental, low-cost improvements for the community. The Lean Scan offers a scaffolding for communities to identify their shared and underutilized assets for collective mobilization. This iterative process produces a report that can guide communities and neighborhoods in other Lean Urbanism strategies - the Action Plan and Pink Zone.
The built environment accounts for approximately half the energy use and carbon footprint of the United States. Lean Buildings reduce energy flows by tapping basic natural heating and cooling techniques and renewable energy sources in ways that are region-specific and climate-sensitive. This paper offers strategies to reduce material and energy consumption, including the use of local and recycled materials, heavy insulation, building orientation, passive solar systems, and dense urban configurations. Issues of energy quantity and quality, energy codes and metrics, as well as building size and configuration, are also discussed.
Small residential and commercial rental properties owned by individual landlords are important to the diversity and adaptability of cities as a whole. The owners of small rental properties face challenges, many due to economies of scale, in areas like energy efficiency and building management. In the United States, more than two-thirds of unsubsidized rental housing units are owned by individual landlords, and small buildings make up most urban neighborhoods; further, neighborhoods with small lots and buildings are more dense, and contain more jobs and businesses per square foot compared to neighborhoods dominated by large properties. Owners of small properties can improve their economic performance and the quality of their properties by investing in professional management, by buying buildings that are close to each other, standardize appliances and fixtures across units, and investing in technology like internet-connected water meters, thermostats, and irrigation control.
The U.S. housing market has seen significant transformation in the last few years, calling for a return of smaller, more efficient dwellings. Design and construction principles from places like the Philippines where pragmatic building practices employing simple construction methods with local, readily available materials are more common may offer useful techniques for developing Lean Housing in the United States.
One barrier to economic development can be the overwhelming and expensive process of compliance with regulatory requirements for small businesses. A Pink Zone — an area where the red tape is lightened — is the locus for implementation of lean strategies and improvements, and it identifies an area where new protocols are pre-negotiated and experiments are conducted, all with the goal of removing impediments to economic development and community-building. This paper provides ideas, tools, and strategies to create and sustain Pink Zones to foster entrepreneurship and small business growth.
Lean Governing is an action-focused exercise of collective will by local elected officials and citizens. It is a process of discovery, of robust experimentation and learning by doing. Lean Governing works through a network of distributed leadership among public entities, citizens and businesses, focused on robust experimentation with alternative models through a set of opportunistic partnerships. It emphasizes non-linear planning based on local conditions, capabilities, and catalysts, and focuses on the building trust between elected officials and local coalitions. For local leaders, Lean Governing offers a model for community development that works by forming a network of distributed leadership among public entities, citizens, and businesses.
We've done a great job developing technology and labor saving machines, which unfortunately has produced a population that is disconnected from nature and sedentary. Our fondness of sitting is reflected in growing rates of obesity, diabetes, and chronic pain. One of the best things we can do to help people become more physically active is to give them public, open spaces where they can move their bodies. This document provides ideas for cities to reconsider existing public spaces and existing park furniture as exercise equipment. This is a low-cost, high-reward strategy to bring residents together in a public space and demonstrate a cultural commitment to holistic well-being. Cities can begin to think of parks as a way to provide access to the natural world, and a place where people can connect with their own physical bodies and each other.
Seaside, the resort town in the Florida Panhandle, is best known for being a compact, walkable and diverse community, but it has also become known as one of the first environmentally designed new towns. It is now time for it to be recognized as a model for Lean Urbanism, particularly greenfield development. These attributes are fundamental to environmentalism in that they minimize the consumption of land, eliminate off-site trips, and encourage walking and bicycling, creating an urban pattern that is inherently sustainable. But in addition to the inherent benefits of the community’s urban design, there are also several explicitly “green” design elements in this 33-year-old town.