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Speaker series to address California's climate-change challenges

| 04 March 2009

A new speaker series at Berkeley will explore the state’s landmark climate-control legislation and its critical connections to sustainable development and land-use planning.

The series, “Growing Sustain­ability in a Low-Carbon World,” is being sponsored by the campus Institute for Urban and Regional Development (IURD). It will bring together local, regional, and state decisionmakers, scholars, researchers, environmentalists, nongovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders from the public sector.

The program, free and open to the public, will take place on campus on Tuesdays, starting March 17. Each seminar will be moderated by a Berkeley faculty member or research associate.

Most of the discussions to date on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in the state have focused on technologies, clean fuels, and green jobs, all of which have important roles to play, says Robert Cervero, interim director of IURD and a professor of city and regional planning.

However, IURD’s series will zoom in on more technical aspects of planning for low-carbon cities — such as modeling and simulating urban futures, pursuing environmental sustainability and economic development, modeling the travel-demand impacts of alternative urban designs, and implementing “smart-growth” ideas.

The first session will look at the promises and challenges of California’s climate-control legislation, including achieving Assembly Bill 32’s substantial greenhouse-gas-reduction targets in the midst of a recession; finding funding sources for planning agencies compelled by Senate Bill 375 to make planning choices that reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled; how to use infill development; and taking advantage of new high-speed-rail opportunities.

Cutting-edge architect and planner Peter Calthorpe will participate in the April 21 program on sustainable regional growth in California. Calthorpe, who has taught at Berkeley, is co-author of The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl (2000).

Among the issues to be addressed at other seminars are these:

• Integrated transportation and land-use modeling
• SB 375: Will it work?
• Sustainable growth and affordable housing
• Best practices in local climate-action plans
• Local and regional planning challenges

“We will monitor the series for common themes and unanswered questions that could provide fertile ground for follow-up research — with an eye toward possibly creating a new center within IURD that would be devoted to smart-growth/climate-change policies and planning,” says Cervero.

More information about the series and about IURD is online at