Canons of Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism

A Companion to the Charter of the New Urbanism

At a Time of Growing Concerns about the Future of the Planet, a Document that Builds on the Vision of Sustainability Inherent in the Charter.

The Charter of the New Urbanism is the guiding document of the new urbanist movement. Although it offers an encompassing vision of sustainable urbanism from the scale of the region to the block and building, three leading CNU members, including two who had a central role in drafting the original Charter, undertook an effort to clarify and detail the relationship between New Urbanism and sustainability.

The resulting document, The Canons of Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism, is designed to serve as a set of operating principles for human settlement that reestablish the relationship between the art of building, the making of community, and the conservation of our natural world.

The CNU board has adopted the Canons for education, field-testing, and refinement in 2008 and 2009. During this time, members are welcome to sign onto the Canons to show their endorsement of its principles. The first signers are the authors: Elizabeth Moule, Hank Dittmar, and Stefanos Polyzoides, who incorporated comments and suggestions from numerous urbanists. The authors thank Mary Walp for her role in editing and designing the document.


GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE and habitat destruction, accelerated by global settlement patterns of sprawl, pose significant challenges requiring a global response. The scale and extent of these problems has come into sharp focus in the decade since the execution of the Charter of the New Urbanism. Timely action is both essential and presents an unprecedented opportunity.

THESE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES complicate equitable devel- opment the world over. Holistic solutions must address poverty, health and underdevelopment as well ecology and the environment.

TOGETHER, the transportation and building sectors account for the major- ity of energy and non-renewable resource usage, making the design and planning of the totality of the built environment essential in tackling these problems.

SMART  GROWTH, GREEN  BUILDING  AND  NEW  URBANISM each have produced advances in resource and energy efficiency. Yet they alone are insufficient and are sometimes even at odds with one another in tackling this challenge. It is time for each of their specific strategies to be integrated.

THE CHARTER OF THE NEW URBANISM provides a powerful and enduring set of principles for creating more sustainable neighborhoods, build- ings and regions. They have provided guidance to policy makers, planners, urban designers and citizens seeking to address the impact of our towns and cities on the natural and human environment. Meaningful change has been achieved by simultaneously engaging urbanism, infrastructure, architecture, construction practice and conservation in the creation of humane and engaging places that can serve as models.

YET THE PROFOUND NATURE of the environmental crisis calls for amplification and more detailed enrichment of the Charter. It is imperative for a unified design, building and conservation culture to advance the goals of true sustainability.

AS A SUPPLEMENT to the Charter of the New Urbanism, a set of operating principles is needed to provide action-oriented tools for addressing the urgent need for change in the planning, design and building of communities. These practical principles shall be global in scope and in information sharing. In their application, actions must respond to local conditions and be contin- uously developed and refined over time.

WE PROPOSE THESE Canons as time-honored operating principles for addressing the stewardship of all land and the full range of human settlement: water, food, shelter and energy. They simultaneously engage urbanism, infrastructure, architecture, landscape design, construction practice and resource conservation at all scales.


Signers of the Canons

Hank Dittmar
Elizabeth Moule
Stefanos Polyzoides
Lucy Rowland
Paul Crabtree
Daniel K. Slone
Thom Shepard
Joe De Luca
Cristina Polyzoides
Thomas Havel
Christian Arndt
Roxanne Qualls
Stephen Filmanowicz
Matthew Hardy
C. David Day
Edward W. Erfurt IV
Dan Solomon
David Thurman
Russell Bloodworth
Stephen Coyle
Chad W. Adams
Marco Negro
Kenny Craft
William Demnis
Heather Boyer
Jim Walker
Victor B. Dover
Brian White
Thomas E. Low
Sandy Sorlien
Guy Pearlman
R. Eric Moser
John Walter
Robert Kramer
Richard D. Felsing
Anne Fairfax
Jamie Greene
Stehpen Coyle
Kristine Seitz
Dena Belzer
Robin Rather
David Goldberg
Timothy Pellowski
R. John Anderson
Padriac Steinschneider
Nikos Salingaros
Roger E. Eastman
John K. Wolff
Darius Wilson
Jacky Grimshaw
Hazel Borys
Jason Twill
Philip Harris
Patrick S. Van Pelt
Michael O'Neil
Jennifer Hurley
Susan H. Henderson
Frederick R. Bonci
Laura B. French
Eric S. Brown
Gayla F. Schmitt
Cheney B. Ferguson
Sinclair Black
Barbara Koerble
Karen E. Pavolek
Philip Langdon
Payton Chung
Lee Rayburn
Heather J. Cooke
Thomas J. Comitta Jr.
Lucy Gailbrath
Patrick Siegman
Sam Newberry
Robert Orr
Jamie Correa
Darell E. Smith
David Crossley
Melissa M. McCallough
Catherine Johnson
Tim Kramer
Joel Schwartz
Nora M. Black
Gregory K. Lipscomb
Tim Van Meter
Andy Kunz
Patrick Kelly
Demetri Baches
Mallory Baches
Brandon Chase Bell
Hermila Tinoco