Long Island, NY may well have invented the suburbs. If it didn't, it took the concept to new heights (or depths) and now, it's trying to take them green.
At least, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi wants to see one town, Levittown, "America's first green suburb" primarily by providing tax incentives to improve the energy efficiency of homes (think efficient windows and light bulbs, attic insulation and the like).
In an op-ed in today's Newsday, Scott Carlin, an associate professor of geography at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, makes an excellent case for a deeper theory of sustainability. Some of his suggestions:
Re-invigorate ties to cities and villages, and build new homes only where there is existing water and sewer infrastructure, sidewalks, schools, businesses and the other pieces of a community within a reasonably close radius. In other words, make it so we can get out of our cars and walk.
Preserve the farms outside of these villages and cities so that local foods is abundant, fresh and available.
Re-think the cost of natural resources and how we pay for them. Hike fees on the use of electricity, gas and forest products, he suggests, and cut the income tax commensurately.
Enact government subsidies for high-tech energy improvements, like solar panels, that cost a lot of money up-front, but pay for themselves over time and use a fraction of the energy. And allow businesses, as well as homeowners, to sell any excess electricity they produce back to the utility.
Start cultural exchanges with communities in developing nations, so that American suburbanites can watch their know-how and investments that seem small have dramatic impacts in parts of the world that lack many of the luxuries we enjoy.
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