Vibrant, Alive, Affordable + Living Lightly Locally= Sustainable Neighborhoods

5 Planets! How are we, the US of A, going to be a serious leader if our lifestyle requires 5 planets of resources??

How are we going to look our grandchildren in the eye and say with pride “All this is yours!”??

The good news is we are innovative. So, my fellow Americans, let’s roll up our sleeves and seize the opportunity. What else are we gonna do?!  

If you’re in Santa Fe, come to the Tuesday night “Design Lab for Sustainable Neighborhoods” Meetup group

Go to ⇒  take the short survey !

Mixed-use, mixed-income sustainable neighborhood infill developments of 2 or so acres, located in rural, urban, or suburban settings, are the winning ticket.

Here is a drawing of one possibility!

Infill Plaza at the Heart for web 1 copy

There is a small problem…it’s gonna take collaboration. and change. Hold on! before you start moaning and wailing…oh ok, go ahead and moan and wail…gnash your teeth, pull out your hair, go get really drunk, even if it’s 11 o’clock in the morning.  Show this to your boss, (s)he’ll join you…

Better?? Good! remember, you can always go back to the bottle, but consider this again…We Are Innovative.  Not just Americans (though it seems we have a certain predisposition), but everybody, all 7+ billion of us.

I don’t know what will empower us to move beyond our inefficient, overly consumptive suburban sprawl, but I’m extending the opportunity to you.

With approx. 40 residential units of varying sizes on the upper floor, and mixed-use commercial and shared common facilities on the ground floor, we just need 80 or so people who want to move in. June 20th is our next designing Sustainable Neighborhoods Workshop.

Go to ⇒  take the short survey !

fill out the survey, and check the box letting us know you’ll be attending. Together, we can make Sustainable Neighborhoods real!



Sustainable Neighborhoods in Santa Fe

The times call for a comprehensive overhaul of our suburban lifestyle and you’re invited to join with fellow innovators, designers, architects, engineers, and enthusiasts to brainstorm efficient, elegant, and ingenious possibilities for well-lived, sustainable futures!

If you are looking to live in a sustainable neighborhood, you too are invited to fill out the survey, and be a part of a focus group or the design group that will work together to put together a sustainable neighborhood that works for those that want to move in! Some of the elements that are hallmarks of a sustainable lifestyle include;

  • A Wide Range of Innovative Floor Plans, from Small to Multigenerational, and everything in between
  • Cluster Arrangements and Themes (see the graphic below)
  • Shared Facilities, Amenities, & Services
  • Onsite Integrated Energy, Water, Food, and Solid Waste Strategies (see 2nd graphic below)
  • Creative Ownership/ Financing
  • Lease to own/ Rental
  • Aging in Place, Nursing Home Innovations

I’ve worked up a couple of graphics to illustrate concepts. Here’s a prototype mixed-use, mixed-income, common courtyard layout, similar to Sena Plaza, our much loved oasis in downtown Santa Fe.

Sustainable neighborhoods are a puzzle of a thousand pieces. We are inventing sustainable living and you are invited to bring your pieces and ideas! Together we can make sustainable neighborhoods real and jumpstart the emerging sustainable economy!

Early March 2013, we had a design session that focused on onsite integrated water, energy, food, and solid waste strategies. Later in the month we had a workshop that focused on floor plans and available sites. Here’s some of the included possibilities.

Our next step is to chose a site that has the most buy in and get a design  with costs that generate presale enthusiasm. I’m working on a site that I like and laying out options to hopefully establish some pricing, and attract architects, engineers, and planners to join in and add their talents to the project. My efforts are a starting point for the conversation.

If you see yourself somewhere in all of this, join in!  Fill out the Survey, and let’s make it happen!

Small is Beautiful-Life at the Crossroads

The times call for a comprehensive overhaul of our suburban lifestyle and you’re invited to join with fellow innovators, designers, architects, engineers, and enthusiasts to brainstorm efficient, elegant, and ingenious possibilities for well-lived, sustainable futures!

If you are looking to live in a sustainable neighborhood, you too are invited to the next session April 27-28 at the Solar Fiesta. This event is focused on show casing innovations in floor plans; from Tiny Houses to Single Room Occupancy (SRO) to flexible multi-generational concepts, and everything in between. You’ll be able to sign up and connect with folks with similar values around

  • Tiny Houses and Innovative Floor Plans 
  • Cluster Arrangements and Themes
  • Shared Facilities, Amenities, & Services 
  • Onsite Integrated Energy, Water, Food, and Solid Waste Strategies (see graphic below)
  • Creative Ownership/ Financing                                                                                                                                                           
  • Lease to own/ Rental
  • Site Locations in Santa Fe- we have a list of about a dozen sites. Add to the List! Email us your site map, with scale bar and north arrow
  • Aging in Place, Nursing Home Innovations

I’ve worked up a couple of graphics to illustrate concepts. Here’s a prototype mixed-use, mixed-income, common courtyard layout, similar to Sena Plaza, our much loved oasis in downtown Santa Fe.


Sustainable neighborhoods are a puzzle of a thousand pieces. Bring your pieces and ideas! Together we can make sustainable neighborhoods real and jumpstart the emerging sustainable economy!

What, When, and Where;  April 27-28, 10-4 at the Technology Center at the Santa Fe Community College off of Richards avenue. click here for more info.

At the March 3rd Design Session, we focused on onsite integrated water, energy, food, and solid waste strategies. At the March 24th session we focused on floor plans and available sites. Call me (Brian 310-1797) to help with setting up the graphics and/or manning the “booth” while gathering signups and surveys at the April 27-28 Solar Fiesta at Santa Fe Community College


Onsite, Integrated Energy, Food, Water, and Solid Waste Design Workshop


You’re invited to help design localized, integrated food and utility systems on March 3rd, 2013! 

Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute have been redesigning industrial facilities to increase energy efficiency by 90%! 

Can We, here in Santa Fe, capture similar savings by designing sustainable neighborhoods that integrate and localize energy,  water, food , and solid waste streams?

I’ve chosen a mixed-use, common courtyard as a starting point for a prototype neighborhood, similar to Sena Plaza, a much loved oasis in downtown Santa Fe.

Mixed-use Courtyard Neighborhood Prototype

Greenhouse Possibilities








Maximize the Localize!

Join with fellow innovators, producers, designers, architects, engineers  and enthusiasts to see how efficient, elegant, and ingenious we can be!

   Read More Details

Who should be at the design session?? Please send this invitation to them!

What, When, and Where; Potluck, bring your utensils and plate-Sunday March 3, 2013, 10:25-2:30 at the Southwest Annex (next to library, follow signs) on SFUAD campus (formerly College of Santa Fe).

Click here for map

Together we can make Sustainable Neighborhoods real!!

Designing Your Well-Lived Future

Ready for Something Other Than Suburbia? 

“I’m tired of living alone.”

“We just would like to live together and share a house. We’re not lovers; we need two master suites.

“I’m fine by myself with breakfast and lunch. At 4:30 though, I need community.”

These are a few of the comments of exasperation from singles we’ve heard over the years. For many, the single-family suburban lifestyle just isn’t working. If you can relate and are ready to help create other options, join in to re-envision your lifestyle!

I keep strategizing and periodically hosting planning/design sessions aimed at discovering floor plans, shared amenities and cluster possibilities where residents get more for less, along with good design. I usually hold the workshop in Santa Fe at the Commons on West Alameda. We start with a tour of the grounds and a bit of conversation about their shared amenities, and then spend the rest of the time developing your ideas of alternatives to current suburban choices.


Projects for the Center for Innovation and Sustainability

I’m proposing a Center for Innovation and Sustainability (CIS), an ongoing Think and Do Tank facility to harness our genius, wisdom and caring to create local market-driven sustainable products and services. With deep collaboration we can create living examples of desirable neighborhoods where less is more – where lowered consumption from a systems-integrated-design approach creates a higher quality of life and affordable lifestyles. We can design scenarios that use less energy, generate little waste and take into account the less visible impacts of the choices we make on habitats and our ways of life.

As we do these systems integrated design, thousands of new products and possibilities will come up for invention. As I’m seeing it, the Fab Lab will being taking the info gathered from audits and assessments and coming up with products and services that meet the new opportunities.  So what are some of the project possibilities and potential demonstration sites that occur to you?

Here’s a couple of ideas and location possibilities


  • Design a neighborhood recycling and community garden center
  • Create a water recycling demonstration site, by tapping into the perennial stream (sewer line) and then hosting a design contest to create a public water feature using the  recycled water.

Demonstration Sites

  • Dana Richards has been spearheading a Sustainability Pathways project for Santa Fe High School. The idea is to create a community center/demonstration site of cutting edge technologies to give students hands-on learning opportunities.
  •  The Zia Roadrunner station has been zoned for a mixed use transit oriented neighborhood.
Ok, Santa Fe…let er rip! Share your ideas and possibilites for projects and demonstration sites!
Together we can make sustainable real!

A Fabrication Lab Turns Ideas into Products and Services

A Fab Lab is a collection of tools with which we can forge an empowering, high quality,  sustainable way of life.  Just about very aspect of our lifestyle is in need of an upgrade. Short vision and short term profits with “externalities” have turned into one big ponzi scheme. We’ve spent the last 60-70 years experimenting with the most expensive real estate development in history of humankind and not only is  our happiness quotient not doing so swell, but the cost of maintenance has set us up for big time bankruptcy.

Of course a Fabrication Lab will have a 3D printer and a shop with all manner of metal and woodworking tools. It also needs innovative financial, policy, and planning capacities.  Business startup and marketing support are also a necessity.  One often needs collaboration skills and the ability to persevere, so developing internal tools are essential components.

These are some of the ideas I’ve gleamed.   This vision of a creative, support atmosphere needs your input to become real. We are inventing sustainable lifestyles and a sustainable future! What tools and capacities would serve your needs?

Harvard Fabrication Laboratory

Image courtesy of Harvard Fabrication Laboratory

Design Your Dream

What is the Most Important to you when designing your dream of a Sustainable neighborhood ?

What are the great things you wish were happening within a convenient walk? What floor plan arrangements and shared amenities would fit your needs? Maybe a deeply affordability lifestyle with a place to play music on a Friday night?

This is a totally open ended question looking for your input. This is your design. As the ideas build up,  Architects and Designers will take your ideas and create a “Catalogue of Options”. This Catalogue will become the basis for a  Model Home and Sales Office for Sustainable Living and drive the demand for a choice other than suburbia!

Spears Architects' contributed this vision to the St Michaels Boulevard Envisioning the City of Santa Fe hosted a couple of years ago.

Since we don’t have many living examples of sustainable neighborhoods in America to draw from, you can use the above illustration (click on thumbnail for full view) to give you inspiration.

Maybe you want to talk about your ideal compound arrangement and take some hints from one of Santa Fe’s cohousing compounds?! In the Sept 2011 Green Fire Times, residents of The Commons on the Alameda shared 144 reasons that make their community life so excellent.

Here’s another awesome idea. I  worked with Roy Wroth to put together a flexible, mixed use floor plan that allows for multiple incomes to cover the mortgage.

And yet one more source for inspiration. John Goekler went all out and hopped aboard a time machine and reported back.

Your contribution can be simple and then grow as we go. Go for it!  Design the Change You Want to See!   Share your ideas and visions. Design your Dream!

image courtesy of quote pictures

What do Two Young Professionals, a Wine Bar, a Twelve-step Program, and a Day Care Center Have in Common?

The answer to the above riddle is… a well-designed house with a flexible floor plan that meets the needs of the current and future residents.  Change, flexibility, affordability, and convenience together spell a thriving, resilient, and sustainable future!  The job before us is nothing short of a reinvention of the America Dream. Here’s some ideas to consider as you’re designing  your dream living space and neighborhood. Enjoy!

A Sustainable Floor Plan in a Sustainable Neighborhood

Ed and Bill are two young professionals, old college roommates and best friends who are searching for an affordable home where they can launch their careers and start building equity.  They find the answer in buying a home together to save money and to keep their college rituals alive.  The home that makes it all work has a flexible floor plan, and with a tenants-in-common joint ownership agreement, they move in.

Ed is a self-employed free-lance writer and sets up his office in the downstairs owner’s studio.  Bill is a new attorney who is anxious to jump into the courtroom and he decides to set his office up in the media room and live in the front bedroom (Master Suite 2).  Ed takes the master bedroom and they share the kitchen and living room. To help make their mortgage payments, they decide to rent out the downstairs storefront to a local clothing store.  This way they‘ll have a quiet renter and supplemental  income.  The middle room downstairs (work 2), behind the store, is completely dedicated to the ping-pong table and music, for playing ping-pong and music with friends are Ed and Bills’s stress-relieving ceremonies from their college days and Bill refuses to give them up.

Flex Floor Plans


A Network of Key Influencers

How do we go about creating the Paradigm shift; innovating and collaborating to bring sustainable neighborhoods to the market?  A friend told me of the “Network of Key Influencers” process practiced by Susan Davis since the 1970s and it sounded like just the ticket!

Susan begins by gathering peer recommendations so the Network will be made up of a talented team from a wide range of sectors, balanced by age, gender, race and geography. Nominees are chosen for their

  • integrity and innovations
  • their ability to collaborate
  • high credibility in their field
  • their innate spiritual connection and willingness to serve the highest good for all
  • and their passion for the network’s mission;

In this case, we’re talking about a team that is passionate about creating thriving, vibrant, alive, mixed-use, mixed-income sustainable neighborhoods that are “good for people, good for the planet, and good for the polar bears.”

A Network fo Key Influencers-a passionate, talented team of collaborators

I’m on this mission, searching for this awesome group of talented folks. Think about the sectors in the graphic above, and if someone comes to mind, email me their name and I’ll interview them!  So far, I’ve interviewed 19 people, getting their recommendations and feedback. Once Susan has gathered a list of recommended “Key Influencers”, the nominees are invited to a Founder’s Retreat, where a dynamic community resource gets initiated.  Maybe you’re reading this and saying to yourself “Dang, I would love to be on this team!”  Hey, don’t be shy! Email me at “Contact” and we’ll set up a time to get together.

Whether you’re a pioneer lone wolf innovator, or a collaorator, we all have essential parts to play.  Together we can make sustainable neighborhoods real!

The challenges before us are so huge, we all can get feeling overwhelmed. One of the great quotes that give me inspiration and assurance comes from Margret Mead. I’m sure you’ve heard it before,  but it never gets old.  Here it is again:

  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”