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Summary

Analysis suggests LEED buildings perform no better, and in fact perform worse, than non-LEED buildings. Many recommended actions, especially those selected by users, have little to no effect. Too few of its standards are results-driven, with high pay-back in areas other than environmental stewardship. Its rewards are self-serving, and used more often by a narrow group of elite users rather than a broad population. Recommendations include recognizing the shortcomings of current use characteristics, bringing clarity to the essentials of desired end performance, and refashioning certification standards to alter use of the program.

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Robert Orr

Robert Orr

Robert Orr, FAIA, is a seventh generation Hoosier and an award-winning architect and planner present at the first sip of coffee that became the grounds for the New Urbanism. Robert Orr & Associates LLC furnished more than 6,000 hours of services to storm-ravaged Gulf Coast Mississippi and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. A Founder of the Seaside Institute, a think-tank on community design and development, Robert also serves on Boards of many other vision-based organizations in Florida, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhodes Island, Washington, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut. Robert is President of the Congress for the New Urbanism — New England Chapter. Robert teaches in the graduate architecture program at the University of Hartford, where he also is formulating a new two-year post-professional Master of Urbanism program. He received his M.Arch. from the Yale School of Art and Architecture and his BA from the University of Vermont and State Agriculture College. A practitioner, adjunct professor, business entrepreneur, Real Estate manager, and avuncular writer/commentator, Robert lives with his wife and four children in New Haven, Connecticut.

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  Publications

June 10th, 2014

Lean Infrastructure – Better Than Gold-Plating

Summary

Lean Infrastructure is Transect-based engineering and landscape works that support Lean Urbanism projects through incremental improvements that can be quickly and economically implemented by subsidiary players without the need for massive equipment, capital or protocols. It is infrastructure designed to fit the needs of a particular level of urbanization (a block or so), but can be frugally upgraded or downgraded to the adjacent level, or adapted to changing conditions.

June 2nd, 2014

Legislation Affecting Lean Urbanism

Summary

The legislation enabling building codes and other targets of Lean Urbanism is often inspired by straightforward protection of health, safety and welfare, but then comes to serve many other purposes. Environmentalists have sought for many years to reform codes for new buildings to allow greater innovation, and Smart Growth advocates have worked since the ‘90s to reform building rehab codes. In some ways these efforts have been very successful, while in others they have left in place many impediments to a certain scale of development. This scale of development occurs in the inner city and in severely damaged suburbs and rural villages, and becomes more valuable to a locality when the market for larger-scale development disappears and is very sensitive to cost, delay and complexity. Additionally, legislative interventions are necessary to remove regulatory barriers that inhibit robust development at this scale. The method for identifying appropriate legislative adjustments to the building codes can be applied to other regulatory scenes which interfere with the revitalization of neighborhoods.

June 1st, 2014

Seaside – A Case of Lean Urbanism for Greenfield Development

Summary

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.

June 1st, 2014

Lean Charrettes

Summary

Over the past decade, even as there has been a growing fascination with the benefits of charrettes as a tool for planning and public engagement, there has been a constant complaint that charrettes are too expensive. This complaint has become more common and more urgent in recent years, with shrinking budgets and tightening competition among firms for a smaller pooler of available work. Lean Urbanism has introduced a new set of concerns about the costs of the process. It is particularly difficult to fit a charrette into the budget of a project when the goal is to make “small possible.” But Lean Urbanism isn’t just about streamlining the planning process. In the simplest terms, it is about reducing the time and resources invested in planning and dedicating them instead to getting things done, in more manageable increments, with less top-down intervention or public investment, creating more opportunities for individual action, with smaller increments of investment.

June 1st, 2014

The Lean Lexicon

Summary

The Lexicon of the Lean Urbanism is, in its current draft, a rather non-Lean document defining the “terms of art” and other useful words and phrases that have emerged from extended discussions on the online Lean Group and at Lean Councils over the past year. It also presents a selection of applicable quotations.

May 31st, 2014

Lean Development Codes – Pink, Pocket, and Smart

Summary

Lean Codes have compact formats, bare-bones standards, and lighter (pink) red tape, in contrast to the excessive controls, redundancies, contradictions, delays, and unintended consequences created by conventional codes (and some form-based codes, for that matter). Lean Development Codes are Transect-based, as it is Lean to connect disciplines and support local contexts.

May 31st, 2014

Lean Education – Architects as Developers

Summary

In the fall of 2006, Woodbury University’s Masters of Architecture Real Estate Development (MRED) began educating architects to reshape the profession of architecture and the future of real estate development. The mission of the MRED program is to change the role of architect from consultant to entrepreneur and to empower architects in a profession where they are rapidly losing their traditional role as leader of a project team.

May 31st, 2014

The CNU Charter – Through a Lean Lens

Summary

The 27 principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism were formulated by a broad cross-section of thinkers, practitioners and officials who recognized some of the shortcomings of post-WWII development, planning and design on the continuity and coherence of American cities. The Charter reflects a durable and broadly agreed upon standard of regional and urban livability, sustainability and civility.

May 31st, 2014

The Problems with LEED

Summary

Analysis suggests LEED buildings perform no better, and in fact perform worse, than non-LEED buildings. Many recommended actions, especially those selected by users, have little to no effect. Too few of its standards are results-driven, with high pay-back in areas other than environmental stewardship. Its rewards are self-serving, and used more often by a narrow group of elite users rather than a broad population. Recommendations include recognizing the shortcomings of current use characteristics, bringing clarity to the essentials of desired end performance, and refashioning certification standards to alter use of the program.

May 31st, 2014

Lean Interpretations from Philippine Vernacular Architecture

Summary

The U.S. housing market has seen significant transformation in the last few years. The recent mortgage crisis and the ensuing aversion to sprawl; issues of climate change, energy and affordability; and a renewed appreciation for context and community have ushered a return of smaller, more efficient dwellings. An examination of vernacular housing models, particularly those from locales where pragmatic building practices are still common — such as in the Philippines — may offer useful techniques for developing Lean housing types.