Place Petal

Place Petal

The intent of the Place Petal is to clearly articulate in a Community where it is acceptable for people to build and how to protect and restore a place once it has been developed, and to encourage the creation of Communities that are once again based on the pedestrian rather than the automobile. In turn, these Communities should be supported by local and regional agriculture, since no truly sustainable Community can rely on globally sourced food production.

The continued spread of sprawl development threatens the few wild places that remain. The decentralized nature of our Communities impedes our capacity to feed ourselves in a responsible way and also increases transportation impacts and pollution. As flat, prime land for construction diminishes, more and more development tends to occur in sensitive areas that are easily harmed or destroyed. Invasive species threaten ecosystems, which are already weakened by the constant pressure of existing human developments.

Automobiles, often used as single occupancy vehicles, have become integral to our Communities when we should depend on “people power”—walking and bicycling—as the primary mode of travel, and supplement it with shared transit.

Ideal Conditions and Current Limitations

The Living Community Challenge envisions a moratorium on the seemingly never-ending growth outward, and a focus instead on compact, connected communities filled with individual Living Buildings and populated with mindful citizens. It is designed to conserve the natural resources that support human health and the farmlands that feed us. As previously disturbed areas are restored, the trend is reversed and nature’s functions are invited back into a healthy interface with the built environment.

Human behavior and attitudes are the most significant barriers to transforming our developed surroundings. There is a frontier mentality that seems to encourage people to keep pursuing the next open territory and to value the untouched site more than the secondhand site. Humanity is territorial by nature, and we tend to view our impacts through a narrow lens. It is not unusual for us to encourage unhealthy solutions, so long as they are “not in my backyard” and allow us the social stature to “keep up with the Joneses.” We must erase the taboos associated with certain forms of transit that have the potential to connect Living Communities to one another and the notion of reclaiming abandoned industrial and commercial facilities, and we must once again give our regard to the many others that cohabit the earth with us.

Projects in developed countries may only be built on greyfields or brownfields, previously developed5 sites that are not classified as on or adjacent to any of the following sensitive ecological habitats:

  • Wetlands maintain at least 15 meters, and up to 70 meters of separation
  • Primary dunes maintain at least 40 meters of separation
  • Old-growth forest maintain at least 60 meters of separation
  • Virgin prairie maintain at least 30 meters of separation
  • Prime farmland within the 100-year flood plain

The Community must document site conditions prior to the start of work and identify the project’s “reference habitat(s).” On-site landscape must be designed so that as it matures and evolves it increasingly emulates the functionality of indigenous ecosystems with regard to density, biodiversity, plant succession, water use, and nutrient needs. It shall also provide wildlife and avian habitat appropriate to the Community’s transect through the use of native and naturalized plants and topsoil. No petrochemical fertilizers or pesticides can be used for the operation and maintenance of the on-site landscape.

A Community in a developing country may build on a greenfield site as long as the project permanently conserves (through a partnership with a reputable land trust) twice as much land on or adjacent to the Community as is developed.

The Community must integrate opportunities for agriculture appropriate to the scale and density of the Community using the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) as a basis for calculation. The urban agriculture area can be aggregated in a central area or dispersed throughout the Community.

The basic chart below outlines mandatory agricultural allowances:

Percent of the Community Area for Food Production

Project F.A.R. Minimum Percent Required
< 0.09 50%
0.10 – 0.24 30%
0.25 – 0.49 25%
0.5 – 0.74 20%
0.75 – 0.99 15%
1.0 – 1.49 10%
1.5 – 1.99 5%
2.0 – 2.99 2%
> 3.0 1%

For each hectare of development, an equal amount of land away from the Community must be set aside in perpetuity through the Living Future Habitat Exchange Program or an approved Land Trust organization.

The Community should contribute toward the creation of walkable, pedestrianoriented communities and provide public transit linkages to surrounding neighborhoods. It shall be predominantly designed for humans and human-powered mobility, rather than for cars.

Public bike storage shall be conveniently distributed throughout the Community, enough for 15% of the Community occupants.

A network of safe, secure, and pleasant walkways and bikeways, adequate to enable human-powered transportation and mass transit as the primary means of mobility, shall be provided throughout the Community. The Community must provide a mobility plan, which addresses and demonstrates at a minimum the following:


  • Public bike storage shall be conveniently distributed throughout the Community, enough for 15% of the Community occupants
  • A walkway network comprised of enhanced pedestrian routes
  • At least one electric vehicle charging station
  • A bicycle network that provides separation from vehicles
  • Advocacy in the community to facilitate the uptake of human-powered transportation


  • Enhanced pedestrian routes, including weather protection on street frontages
  • At least one public transit route within the community

The Community may not cause the predominant occupancy type within the catchment area to exceed the maximum percentage allotted in the table below:


Maximum percentage of any single occupancy type within catchment area
L1 --
L2 --
L3 70%
L4 60%
L5 50%
L6 40%