Walkable Neighborhood: Term of being Sustainable and (or) Green.

The construction of Leadership in Energy and Evironmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating tools is the collaboration USGBC (United States Green Building Council) with Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). New urbanism is an urban design movement that promotes walkable neighborhood containing a range of housing and job types that arose after the rise of automobile in the mid-20th century. Undoubtedly, that is in the Second Chapter of LEED-ND rating tools, “Neighborhood Pattern and Design (NDP)”, walkable streets become the first credit point to gain among other fifteen.

To have a walkable neighborhood is not a mainstream idea that needs a big movement to be implied, ideally. In Seattle-based website called walkscore.com mentioned that the easiest tool to measure how walkable a neighborhood is how many destinations of activities (non-housing) within five hundred to eight hundred meters from your doorstep. How easy people reach many their daily basis needs (e.g. shops, bank, drug store, etc) by walking distance.

Peter Calthorpe, as one of founder new urbanism movement, explained explicitly once in his writing[1]; having a walkable area in a suburb (even) that is less density neighborhood would be a convenient way to be reached and the meaning of creating it coming profoundly by the need of selling it in one package,- bold economic reason. In another hand, the (high) density neighborhood is usually coming automatically as walkable neighborhood-planned/unplanned, because of short destination distance. As we know that the plan or unplanned (high) density neighborhood, with its complexity, still categorized as the decision that would pursue the step of conserving the land (mix-use), as it provides many needs within a compact piece of land. In this case, the point of being sustainable; checked. Moreover, in a (high) dense neighborhood, it’s easier to provide walkable surrounding, and clearly density means that you often do not need gasoline to get around for example: to buy toothpaste from the closest store. This is one simple point that we can do to reduce the emission concretely. The point of being green; checked.

Even though in Indonesia context neighborhood (high) density is oftentimes being observed as a problem because identically with poverty and slum. (High) density neighborhood is not something we should delete or white but improving it to increase its value in economic and social, if it’s needed. For example is neighborhood redevelopment, so-called retrofit, with an understanding is one of many ways to strengthen of a neighborhood area without tearing it down and start from scratch. Thus, the neighborhood reconstruction would never come out as a poor idea.

The words sustainable and green are often used interchangeably and sustainable has happened to be the marketing word tools by the green movement. Despite all of its meaning, it is obviously being green is not enough to pursue a sustainable value, in the making of a livable neighborhood.

In the long-haul, walkable neighborhood being achieved by relishing pedestrian space is proved as one of the ways to conserve the energy and converse it in an action for the neighborhood environment.

-Yantri Dewi- 


[1]KELBAUGH, Doug (ed.), “The Pedestrian Pocket Book”, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1989.