Growing Greener Cover Growing Greener Rural by Design Cover Rural by Design
critical praise
Crossroads, Hamlet, Village, Town cover
Conservation Design for Subdivisions Cover
book cover


Free Downloadable Publications

Unless otherwise noted, all
downloadables require Adobe Acrobat Reader.




Excerpts from the new Rural by Design: Four Articles from APA’s Planning Magazine. These articles contain extensive excerpts from four chapters of the new edition of Rural by Design, and are intended to provide readers with a flavor of the book’s content. They appeared in Planning magazine between September 2011 and November 2015.



  • Putting Greenways First describes the critical--indeed essential--need to design greenway components at the outset of projects, so that they are not forgotten, neglected, or given short shrift, but instead act as “form-givers” to the development.

Putting Greenways First

  • Simplify that Code! describes examples of shorter, less complicated form-based codes that are well suited to municipalities with limited financial resources and limited staff. It also describes alternatives such as even more basic (and easily implemented) form-based design standards that have produced excellent results. Lastly, it discusses the role of “good neighbor” performance standards to ensure compatibility when different uses are mixed or located close together.

Simplify that Code!

  • Creative Design Ideas for Downtowns describes and illustrates some of the most interesting design approaches included in the chapter on strengthening downtowns, citing examples from communities of various sizes from across the country.

Creative Design Ideas for Downtowns

  • Transforming Highway Corridors discusses ways that communities can overcome inertia and seize the initiative to implement medium- to long-term physical planning principles to gradually rebuild aging commercial strips as efficient, attractive, and economically vibrant mixed-use districts.



Transforming Highway Corridors

Growing Greener: Conservation by Design.  This 18-page booklet summarizes the Growing Greener program in Pennsylvania (also called Conservation by Design).  It provides a brief distillation of the principal points discussed in my Growing Greener book (235 pages).  Although written in a Pennsylvania context, its principles are broadly applicable to readers in every state. This is an excellent condensation of the issues and of practical approaches for implementing key elements of a Smart Growth strategy in rural and suburbanizing areas.


Growing Greener: Conservation by Design

Model Conservation by Design Ordinance for Pennsylvania (Growing Greener 2.0). This PDF contains model language for zoning and subdivision ordinances originally developed 15 years ago by me and others at the Natural Lands Trust for communities within Pennsylvania, and recently been updated by current staff. Although it has not been further modified to remove sections based specifically on Pennsylvania law, (statutes and court decisions), it provides an excellent starting point for planners and land-use attorneys interested in beginning with an excellent set of submission requirements, review procedures, and design standards. It is recommended that it be read in conjunction with the article entitled Flawed Processes, Flawed Results…, also available for free downloading in this section.


Model Conservation by Design Ordinance for Pennsylvania (Growing Greener 2.0)

Greener Streets: Enhancing Livability and Neighborhood Values through Greener Engineering Practices. This extensively illustrated article, published by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Engineers, states the case for more progressive approaches to street design in terms of pavement width, public safety, sidewalks, shade trees, curbing and stormwater, cul-de-sac alternatives, and horizontal curves.


Greener Streets

Short Video at Tryon Farm Conservation Subdivision. In this short video clip, I speak about the economic benefits of conservation subdivision design and the reduced development costs of my designs.



Tryon Farm Conservation Subdivision

Requires QuickTime or similar movie player.
File size: 15.25 MB

Conservation Design in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This 21-page booklet, which I wrote for the US Environmental Protection Agency, deals more deeply with the four-step design process for creating conservation subdivisions and focuses on water quality protection issues, a key component of “Low Impact Development” (LID). These design principles can be effectively applied toward protecting many other natural or cultural values important in the reader’s area. This publication is highly recommended.


Conservation Design in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

North Carolina Handbook for Conservation Subdivisions. This richly-illustrated 32-page document defines the concept of designing full-density subdivisions that protect half or more of each development site. It details their benefits (preserving farmland, conserving wildlife habitat, reducing infrastructure costs, improving home values, providing access to open space, and infiltrating stormwater and recharging aquifers), identifies perceived barriers and ways to overcome them, describes open space management strategies, and informs readers how to promote this practical and effective approach to subdividing land.

The handbook concludes with four case studies, a list of resources to be consulted, and eleven pages of model ordinance language closely based on the wording in Growing Greener: Putting Conservation into Local Plans and Ordinances (Arendt, 1999, Island Press).

This very helpful publication was produced by the Urban and Community Forestry Program within the Department of Forestry at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh.



North Carolina Handbook for Conservation Subdivisions

External PDF

Visualizing our Options: Creating a Better Future. This extensively illustrated 56-page booklet contains four principal sections, two dealing with commercial development issues (Commercial Corridors and Downtowns), two on residential development issues (Design Principles and Conservation Subdivisions), and one on Business/Office Park Demonstration Sites. Although I wrote this award-winning booklet for one county in western New York State, it is applicable to a wide range of communities Its material is largely drawn from four of my books: Rural by Design, Conservation Design for Subdivisions, Growing Greener, and Crossroads, Hamlet, Village, Town (q.v.).


Visualizing our Options: Creating a Better Future

Hi-res, External PDF
(155 MB)

Visualizing our Options: Creating a Better Future

Lo-res PDF (7.6 MB)

Land Use Planning in Britain and New England. This five-page article was written to prepare participants in an exchange program between land-use planners from Great Britain and the United States. It explains why certain fundamental regulatory mechanisms for controlling land use differ so dramatically between the two countries.


Land Use Planning in Britain and New England

Flawed Processes, Flawed Results, and a Potential Solution. This short paper provides a constructive critique of outmoded subdivision regulations, and is applicable to almost every local planning jurisdiction in this country (and Canada). After describing the many extremely common flaws that seriously compromise the effectiveness of most subdivision regulations, I describe how these significant shortcomings can be easily addressed and corrected. A must-read.


Flawed Processes, Flawed Results, and a Potential Solution

Design Studies Portfolio. This brief publication which I prepared for the Natural Lands Trust describes and illustrates four designs I prepared at the request of municipal officials in southeastern Pennsylvania, who wanted to show developers better ways to subdivide land, plus three designs I prepared at the request of applicants. In addition, it contains a design done by another firm but according to the conservation design principles embedded in the subdivision ordinance and zoning ordinance that I had helped the municipality to write, and according to the Community-wide Map of Potential Conservation Lands that the Trust helped prepare for the Township.


Design Studies Portfolio

Lopez Village Design Workshop. This file contains the summary report of a four-day design charrette I led on Lopez Island, WA. Although the design recommendations are important to the Village, the value to readers of this web page is that it gives them insight into the interactive process (including pro-active outreach) that characterized the way I approached this project. To be successful, I feel that such undertakings must both solicit and elicit a very high level of public involvement.


Lopez Village Design Workshop

Enhancing Subdivision Value through Conservation Design.  This article describes and illustrates the four-step design process for laying out subdivisions around the central organizing principle of land conservation. Originally published in On Common Ground, magazine of the National Association of Realtors.


Enhancing Subdivision Value through Conservation Design

Designing Traditional Neighborhoods around Natural Features. This article discusses some of the “greener aspects of the New Urbanism”, showing how Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) principles can be blended with those of conservation design. It appeared in the Spring 2000 issue (No. 7) of, an on-line journal of the built and natural environments.


Designing Traditional Neighborhoods around Natural Features

Conservation Subdivisions: Good for the Land, Good for the Pocketbook. This article provides an excellent overview of conservation design citing examples from across the country. It appeared in the winter 2006 issue of On Common Ground, published by the National Association of Realtors. (This file is 5.12 MB in size, and might take longer to download onto some systems.)

Conservation Subdivisions: Good for the Land, Good for the Pocketbook

Intentional Grounding. This article from Big Builder magazine includes quotes from several residential developers, citing their experience with conservation design, and discusses national trends regarding the growing popularity of this improved model.

Intentional Grounding

The Economics of Conservation Subdivisions: Price Premiums, Improvement Costs, and Absorption Rates. This 24-page peer-reviewed article, researched and written by a professor at Wayne State University, appeared in the January 2006 issue of Urban Affairs Review.

The Economics of Conservation Subdivisions

Intelligent Design: Green Space is Priceless in Subdivisions that Work with Nature.  Feature article describing the unique hands-on design exercise which is a hallmark of my conservation design workshops. This is where the learning curve rises steeply. When audiences are asked to lay out a conservation subdivision after listening to my illustrated lecture, they are forced to think more deeply about the special four-step design process which holds the key to successful design. They literally “learn by doing”, a far more fruitful educational experience than simply viewing slides and listening to verbal presentation. When their hands are connected with their brains, and when they discuss the design possibilities with others around their tables, their level of understanding increases dramatically, and they return to their communities and workplaces newly energized.

Intelligent Design: Green Space is Priceless in Subdivisions that Work with Nature

Cultivating Natural and Cultural Landscapes through Conservation Subdivision Design. A photo-essay that I wrote for the nation’s leading on-line magazine addressing land-use issues and showcasing creative approaches to managing growth. is a “Journal of the Built and natural Environments”, published quarterly, and accessible at This photo-essay presents two dozen images capturing different site features that have been saved through this common-sense design approach. Half are located in conservation subdivisions I have personally designed in various landscapes and regions from Maine to Minnesota, and from Texas to Florida. They include natural features, historic/cultural resources, restoration examples, community lands, and commercial uses of non-common open space.


Cultivating Natural and Cultural Landscapes through Conservation Subdivision Design

CSD: A Brief Overview. This two-page summary distills the essence of conservation subdivision design, providing a handy, quickly-readable, precis of this creative approach to simultaneously conserving and developing land. Ideal as an introduction for busy people.


CSD: A Brief Overview

Conservation Design versus Typical Clustering. A workshop handout written by staff of the Natural Lands Trust in Media PA, where I developed the conservation-by-design approach called Growing Greener. It distinguishes conservation design from earlier “cluster” approaches which have generally failed miserably to produce their intended results. Learning from past mistakes, CSD avoids the pitfalls that have rendered cluster and PRD (or PUD) ordinance provisions functionally useless in terms of protecting meaningful open space.


Conservation Design versus Typical Clustering

Saving the Special Things. A feature article by a journalist who accompanied me on a site visit and observed the conservation planning design process I conducted with the landowner-client. A rare window into the nuts-and-bolts of my standard operating procedure.


Saving the Special Things

Developers Bet the Organic Farm. A brief article from the Washington Post, detailing impressive initiatives by a number of residential developers, around the country, to integrate serious organic farming into their conservation areas.


Developers Bet the Organic Farm

From the Ground Up. A feature article describing a talk on the sustainability aspects of conservation subdivisions, delivered on Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes, but universally applicable. This kind of advance reporting helps to publicize such workshops and boost attendance, which was the goal of municipal staff when contacting the newspaper. To the extent that local reporters are willing to do this, workshop impacts can be maximized.


From the Ground Up

Stewardship Handbook. This 220-page handbook addresses major land stewardship challenges such as stewardship plan preparation, forest restoration, deer impact management, invasive plant control, and meadow/grassland establishment. Although written for typical landscapes in southeastern Pennsylvania, it is applicable far beyond the Commonwealth. Relevant in the preparation of Management Plans for conservation areas within conservation subdivisions, the complete version may be downloaded by registered users or purchased.


Stewardship Handbook

External Web Page

Agriculture is the New Golf: Rethinking Suburban Communities. Saving productive farmland through creative development design might sound oxymoronic, but it has been occurring quietly for more than 35 years, as this article explains.


Agriculture is the New Golf

Protecting Natural and Historic Resources through Conservation Design. This 11-page article describes  how conservation design can protect and preserve a wide variety of natural and cultural features including farmland, orchards, meadows, woodland habitat, vernal pools, scenic viewsheds, barns, farm lanes, and stone walls. It also describes  how to restore prairies and fisheries, and how conservation subdivisions can be used to create wholesale nurseries, equestrian facilities, vineyards, edible landscaping, community gardens and community-supported agricultural (CSA) operations, and foraging opportunities.


Protecting Natural and Historic Resources through Conservation Design

Muddy Boots on the Ground: Conservation Subdivision Design for Sheridan County. Description of a workshop cosponsored by the Sheridan Community Land Trust and Sonoran Institute, with help from The Nature Conservancy and The Wyoming Business Council.


Muddy Boots on the Ground

Planning Education: Striking a Better Balance. The article is presented here in both full-length form and in the shorter form condensed for publication in Planetizen, together with a list of more than 100 cosignatories. It provides a constructive critique of planning education in the United States, offering an historical perspective, detailing curriculum imbalances, and describing the impact of insufficient design training on the ability of planning graduates to serve their communities in a full, well rounded way. It concludes with descriptions of some of the more well balanced academic programs and suggests a way forward. The longer version also includes the author’s ideal curriculum, presented to help promote discussion and positive change.


Planning Education: Striking a Better Balance

(full version)

Planning Education: Striking a Better Balance

(condensed version)