By Matthew Trotter
Dr. Richard Wilson, the chair of Cal Poly’s Urban and Regional
Planning Department, started the 2007 Dale Prize colloquium with
the announcement that University President Michael Ortiz signed a
pledge to make the school carbon neutral, making steps to
neutralize greenhouse gas emissions from the campus until the
University no longer contributes to global warming.
Cal Poly is one of just three CSU campuses taking the pledge.
The efforts will be chaired by Dr. Kyle Brown, director of the Lyle
Center for Regenerative Studies, and Dr. Edwin Barnes, the interim
vice president of administrative affairs and interim chief
The announcement was appropriate for the topic of the
colloquium, “Ecological Urban Design: Making/Breaking Rules.”
The prizewinners were Jonathan Barnett, a professor at the
University of Pennsylvania, and Sarah James, a city and
town-planning consultant from Cambridge, Mass.
James gave a presentation about eco-municipalities, communities
that have adopted the following set of four sustainability
principles to shape policies; reduce dependency upon fossil fuels,
underground metals and minerals; reduce dependency upon synthetic
chemicals and other unnatural substances; reduce encroachment upon
nature, and ensure that it meets human needs fairly and
The first eco-municipality was founded in Sweden in 1983. Today,
25 percent of all municipalities in the country are
eco-municipalities, including the capital, Stockholm. Six
communities in the United States are becoming eco-municipalities as
According to James, Swedish scientists came up with the concept
as a response to the inevitable convergence of declining resources
and increasing population and consumption. Otherwise, humans would
begin to irreparably harm nature.
“Nature is our life support system,” James said.
Barnett talked about the possibilities of implementing green
“This is working with the environment rather than subdue it,”
The primary goal of these principles is to reclaim and increase
green space in a particular area. Barnett, working with urban
design firm Wallace, Roberts and Todd recently generated a plan for
By reclaiming and increasing green space, cities are more
aesthetically pleasing and more environmentally friendly. Many
plans include adding trees and other plants or shrubs in existing
“You can start making the built environment more like the
natural environment,” Barnett said.
James and Barnett had positive things to say about the direction
Cal Poly is moving in to lessen its impact on the environment.
James observed a rural development class apply the four
sustainability principles to several topics on campus, including
parking lots, housing and agricultural areas. She said many
campuses are moving in a green direction.
“Students are leading the way,” she said. “On a lot of campuses,
students get it started by pushing the administration.”
Barnett called Ortiz’s decision “wonderful and appropriate.”
Barnett identified the Lyle Center as an example of many things
that will help the campus achieve carbon neutrality.
However, he believes it will take a tremendous effort,
especially since Cal Poly is a commuter school.
He suggested encouraging more people to drive vehicles that use
less fuel and making living on campus an option for more
“If you truly are going to become carbon neutral, it will
include everyone involved,” Barnett said.
The William R. and June Dale prize is awarded annually by the
Urban and Regional Planning Department to one scholar and one
The winners receive $5,000 and spend three days on campus
interacting with students and participating in a colloquium.
William Dale was a founding faculty member of the department. An
endowment from his wife, June, funds the award.
Matthew Trotter can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com
or by phone at (909) 869-3747.
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