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Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change [Hardcover]

by Peter Calthorpe
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 20, 2010 1597267201 978-1597267205 0

“Cities are green” is becoming a common refrain.  But Calthorpe argues that a more comprehensive understanding of urbanism at the regional scale provides a better platform to address climate change.  In this groundbreaking new work, he shows how such regionally scaled urbanism can be combined with green technology to achieve not only needed reductions in carbon emissions but other critical economies and lifestyle benefits.  Rather than just providing another checklist of new energy sources or one dimensional land use alternatives, he combines them into comprehensive national growth scenarios for 2050 and documents their potential impacts.  In so doing he powerfully demonstrates that it will take an integrated approach of land use transformation, policy changes, and innovative technology to transition to a low carbon economy. 


To accomplish this Calthorpe synthesizes thirty years of experience, starting with his ground breaking work in sustainable community design in the 1980s following through to his current leadership in transit-oriented design, regional planning, and land use policy. Peter Calthorpe shows us what is possible using real world examples of innovative design strategies and forward-thinking policies that are already changing the way we live.


This provocative and engaging work emerges from Calthorpe’s belief that, just as the last fifty years produced massive changes in our culture, economy and environment, the next fifty will generate changes of an even more profound nature. The book, enhanced by its superb four-color graphics, is a call to action and a road map for moving forward.

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Editorial Reviews


“Peter Calthorpe provides a distinctive framework in which effective design can channel future development to grow a dynamic, healthy, and low-carbon society. Yet again, Peter adds a critical dimension for moving us forward intelligently.”

(Edward Mazria Founder, Architecture 2050 2010-11-01)

 “This insightful book represents an important platform for thought and design as we intentionally seek to be less destructive as a species and we begin to dream what it might be like to go forward in a way that honors the place of humans in the larger natural world.”

(William McDonough McDonough+Partners, author, Cradle to Cradle 2010-11-01)

“Calthorpe points out that urbanism is often left off the list of climate solutions, but in order to confront global warming, we have to look beyond clean tech and examine where we live and how we design our communities. This book offers a blueprint for transforming our cities and towns into low-carbon centers of vibrant public life.”

(Frances Beinecke President, Natural Resources Defense Council 2010-11-01)

“Calthorpe offers a double win. Making cities better for the atmosphere and climate also makes them more enjoyable and productive for humans to live in. The ideas have been proved; now they need to be applied at a climate-stabilizing scale.”

(Stewart Brand author, Whole Earth Discipline 2010-11-01)

“…Succeeds at challenging our assumptions about the relation between individual cities and the larger world in which we live….In today's acrimonious political culture, where scientists who warn of climate change are dismissed as dupes of Al Gore, these two books might find readers among only like-minded city lovers; neither is vibrant enough to intrigue the skeptic. Still, it's important to add them to the debate…”

(San Francisco Chronicle)

“Calthorpe's book lays out, with convincing specificity, the cost of continuing along the path of sprawl development  -- in land consumption, water consumption, energy consumption, and sheer dollars spent. He  also shows how much all those costs could be reduced by the implementation of what he calls "green urbanism" -- simple urbanist design principles teamed with green technology and renewable energy.”


""Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change" is a thoughtful and enlightening read, enthusiastically recommended."

(The Midwest Book Review)

"Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change should be the basis for any energy policy or climate change discussion. The stakes are high. After all, we’ll either succeed at this or die trying (or die sooner not trying). But Mr. Calthorpe’s vision is actually quite sunny and entirely achievable if we think it through and move forward."

(Joe Urban)

"Encompassing urban design, planning philosophy and political policy, Calthorpe, an architect based in Berkeley, California, presents this discussion of urban planning as an integrated solution to emerging global sustainability imperatives. The work provides examples of policy changes and design evolution that could dramatically impact environmental conditions over the next forty years and includes a selection of artfully designed, full color info-graphic plates illuminating key policy and development points. This volume will be of interest to architects and urban planners and its artistic design and broad range make it appealing to general readers with an interest in environmental policy and activism."

(Book News)

“In Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change, Peter Calthorpe makes a concise and thorough case for urbanism as an essential part of any strategy to combat global climate change and resource depletion…the book shows what’s wrong with the nonurbanist design that has prevailed for the past half-century and offers solutions for fixing it at a number of different scales.”

“The book lays the groundwork for us all to believe in cities, and to investigate the urban forms that contribute to the lifestyles we want for the future… Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change builds on the core principles of New Urbanism, rigorously subjecting them to investigation through the lens of environmental performance. A pioneering text in its interdisciplinary, systems-approach to urban design, it will help lead the way for policy-makers, designers and urban inhabitants alike.”

“I found this a fascinating book which makes a powerful argument for an appropriate – and therapeutic – wider context for low-energy buildings.”

"The argument...is clear and convincing. ...it is an important work with a critical, timely message. It does not provide easy answers, but it describes viable possibilities and accordingly deserves a wide audience."

"...the book is a strong consolidation of facts and figures to connect planners, environmentalists, and social change-makers. It clearly articulates a theory, action plan, and historical data to bring a vision to life."
(Global Site Planning 2014-01-27)

“I believe Peter Calthorpe to be the pre-eminent urban planner of our time. Herein is the first unobstructed view of a realistic, non-utopian urban society that can systemically address climate, economics, quality of life and the coming transition. The thesis of the book needs to be understood by all:  the greatest and most innovative source of renewable energy rests within urban design, not solar panels or wind turbines. Peter’s resonant vision creates a straight path to a workable, humane future.”

(Paul Hawken author, Blessed Unrest 2010-11-01)

About the Author

Peter Calthorpe is a leading innovator in sustainable design, planning, and development. He is an architect, urban designer and a founding member of the Congress for New Urbanism, formed in 1992 to promote sustainable urban design practices. He is the author of The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl (Island Press, 2001). He won the 2006 Urban Land Institute’s J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development for his work pioneering walkable communities and regional design.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press (December 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597267201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597267205
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling case for urbanism October 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Calthorpe's book is an engaging read that makes a compelling case for urbanism as a connecting concept that can unite specialties from environmentalism to urban planning in the quest to create cities that are sustainable economically, socially, and environmentally. He lays out clear choices and consequences. He also provides ammunition for those who need to make these arguments without using the phrase "climate change."

The book could use a few more photographs or illustrations in its center section. Calthorpe describes various "place types" and it would be clearer if there were visuals to accompany the text. This was the only part of the book that dragged a bit. The data visuals in the front and back of the book are stunning so it is not a lack of resources or imagination.

As with any true believer, Calthorpe occasionally comes under the spell of his own utopian vision. The challenges to achieving the urban future Calthorpe envisions are immense but the conceptual framework he lays out will be helpful for viewing any number of decisions from lot size restrictions to transit investments. As I read, I wanted to move to a place that Calthorpe designed. Thinking of how to make my city more like his urbanist ideal brought back the reality of dealing with multiple agencies, jurisdictions, and interests. The journey is not easy though Calthorpe makes a strong case that it is one we must make.

If you are at all interested in issues of our urban future, this book is a worthy addition to your collection.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
In much of the world, most of a country's population now lives in cities. "Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change" discusses the role of cities in the climate change debate. Peter Calthorpe states that in order for America and other nation's lifestyle to continue with the minimum of environmental impact, we must embrace new methods and new technologies and presents plans for the world up to the year 2050. Drawing on his expertise as an architect, he states our best hope is through designing our own future. "Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change" is a thoughtful and enlightening read, enthusiastically recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book April 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this for a class I was taking. Its a very good book and I enjoyed it a lot. The content is about the same as other books but the thing that sets it apart from others is its images, charts and diagrams. Would recommend this to any architecture student, landscape student and urban planners.
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