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Issue 31, February 6, 2013: Charting a Safer Course 

Letter from the Editor: Charting a Safer Course
Bringing the Ecological Footprint to Asia
Q&A with Bloomberg’s Gregory Elders and Curtis Ravenel
BioRegional: Is it possible to build and live in a One Planet Community?
Racing Towards Sustainability
Footprint Briefs
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About Global Footprint Network
Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a measurement tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers.

BioRegional: Is it possible to build and live in a One Planet Community?

Is it possible to build and live in a One Planet Community?

This question was recently explored by Global Footprint Network partner BioRegional, which serves as a sustainability consultant to Greenwoods Ecoresorts in Portugal. The community in question is Mata de Sesimbra, a planned community and vacation site being developed just south of Lisbon on the Peninsula de Setubal. Mata de Sesimbra is endorsed by BioRegional as the world’s first One Planet Living Community Resort, and may provide insights for designers and planners into how to lower the Ecological Footprint of new developments.

BioRegional examined the Ecological Footprint of Mata de Sesimbra, starting with an analysis of consumption in Portugal provided by Global Footprint Network. BioRegional then conducted a detailed modeling that examined the energy use and the likely transport and consumption patterns of residents and visitors. They also compared the Ecological Footprint of a community resident to that of someone who owns a second home there and to someone coming to Mata de Sesimbra on vacation.  They concluded that how frequently a ”one planet” budget allows individuals to visit ranges from several trips per year to once every six years, depending on where they live, how they live at home and how they travel to the site.  


When complete, Mata de Sesimbra will have nearly 5000 homes sited on 5000 hectares of formerly degraded land, almost all of which is being reforested with pine trees. This constitutes the largest privately-managed forest project in Europe.

Like the average Portugal resident, the biggest component of the community’s Ecological Footprint is food consumption. The Footprint modeling made it clear that providing more opportunities for local food production would lower the community’s Footprint. As a result, both a managed farm and residential growing plots were introduced into the design.

“The Ecological Footprint analysis of residents really opened our eyes to the impact of lifestyles and specifically food,” said Elena Bertarelli, of architectural firm Fosters and Partners. “To respond to this, we have sought opportunities to incorporate food growing into the design with productive landscape areas that can either be managed by local farmers or residents as well as proposing an array of spaces for food experience activities for residents and visitors, e.g. growing food to cooking it and eating it.”

The development will meet its energy needs with 100 percent renewable energy and will be accessible by regional train networks and regular shuttles.

Bertarelli added, “Similarly, the site’s transport strategy and the car parking plan is driven by the twin aims of creating high quality external communal space and encouraging non-car means of travel.” Mata de Sesimbra is one of six designated One Planet Communities, each of which has adopted the ten One Planet Living targets and introduced an action plan that has been endorsed by BioRegional. The communities, which include the recently endorsed Grow Community near Seattle, have made a commitment to monitor performance until 2020 and update their plans.

Our long-term aim is to build a global network of One Planet Communities which can teach, learn from and inspire each other as they grow and evolve,” said BioRegional’s Chief Executive, Sue Riddlestone.

Go here for more information on the Mata de Sesimbra development.
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