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Kronberg Wall is Creating Walkable, Sustainable Communities in Atlanta

By S. Mathur

Kronberg Wall are a committed to creating a new way of living, working and being part of a community. Eric Kronberg, Architect and Owner, says that sustainable also means walkable: "Successful developments are now focusing on creating a place, and using surrounding neighborhoods as amenity. Prioritizing automobile storage and use as a primary need works at cross purposes to achieving these ends. So much of our neighborhoods built over the last 50 years have given very little thought to the ability to actually walk places in an enjoyable, dignified fashion."

People who choose sustainable lifestyles have to make the choice to give up the reliance on automobiles, he adds: "If people really care about the environment, then they have to focus on their commute as a primary cause of the problem." Transportation is the second most important source of CO2 emissions in the US, accounting for 34% of the total, behind only buildings which currently account for over 44% of the total. This means that reducing or eliminating the commute altogether is necessary to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

While building energy efficient LEED houses can also help, the difference in energy consumption between such a house in the suburbs and an old, energy inefficient house in town is less than the reduction that can be achieved by cutting down on a long commute. This means reversing the trend in housing and urban development for the past half century. To achieve this, Kronberg Wall promotes neighborhoods where driving is optional and where walking, biking and public transportation can get you where you need to go. Very often these are older urban neighborhoods in need of revitalization. Creating such neighborhoods requires more than just housing. Work, retail and dining options are necessary.

One example of such a community is a Kronberg Wall project near the Edgewood MARTA Station. While building new single family houses on 17 city lots, the existing 120 year old farmhouse on the property was also preserved. The homes include space for home offices, and are located near public transportation, making it possible for families to choose to have only one car. Kronberg says that "These are the types of options and choices that tend not to exist in the suburban built environment. Car optional just doesn't function there."

For those seeking to understand what makes a great neighborhood, Kronberg recommends Kaid Befield's book, People Habitat. Befield writes that "When revitalization of our distressed neighborhoods is done well, it is almost unrivaled in the ability to advance simultaneously the "triple bottom line" goals of sustainability: improving the environment, the economy, and social equity."

Charles Montgomery's Happy City contains "a great dissection of the personal, emotional, and financial cost of commuting on individuals and society,"says Kronberg. He can see the future taking shape: "The rush back to our cities and small downtowns marks definite rejection of this recent development pattern, and is leading us to something much, much more sustainable in the long term."

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