eco-city design

walkable centres

shared space or separation


efficient buildings

public transport

why the trolleybus

road layout

car-lite districts



sustainable farming


quality of life




There are many ways to judge whether a city is sustainable.

One is to ask if it's carbon neutral.  A carbon neutral eco-city would balance the carbon it releases, for example in the burning of fossil fuels, with the carbon it sequesters, for example with the planting of trees.

Another is to look at the ecological footprint of its residents, to calculate how much land and water their lifestyles require.  The UK's ecological footprint averages somewhere above 5 hectares.  But if we were to share the earth's biocapacity equally among its 6 billion plus inhabitants, we'd get just 1.8 hectares each.  An eco-city would therefore aim for 1.8 or below.

However, neither of these concepts are particularly useful in themselves.  They offer us broad goals to aim for, but tell us nothing of how to achieve them. 

I believe resiliency to be a far better standard for us to judge our eco-towns and cities against.


Global warming has yet to wreak the devastation it threatens, but when it comes we will no longer be able to rely on food and energy supplies from abroad.

And sooner or later, the oil is going to run out.

We're looking at a future very different to now; a future in which energy and even food are in very short supply.

Not a scene from Mad Max

Resiliency means accepting that this is going to happen at some point in the future, and planning for it today.

We all need food to eat and water to drink.  We all need to travel to work to earn money for food, and to the shops (or the farm) to buy it.  And we all need homes to provide us with shelter.

These are our basic needs, and we must still be able to meet them when resources become scarcer and energy costs rise.

The city detailed in these pages is based on several levels of resiliency:

  • Trolleybuses are extremely energy efficient, and a broken-down vehicle will not stop them.

  • But if future energy supplies get so bad as to impact on the trolleybus network, shops and local services are never more than a 4 minute walk away.  And the city is compact enough to keep the city centre within a 30 minute walk of every home, and considerably less by bicycle or on roller skates.

  • Buildings use minimal energy for heating and cooling, and are designed to conserve drinking water.

  • And much importance is placed on local, sustainable farming so that the city can always feed itself.

For example, a sustainable town may be fully pedestrianised, with walking and cycling the main modes of transportation, or it may be based around zero emission cars.  But when the energy crunch comes, only the resilient pedestrian town will continue as normal whilst all those zero emission cars will grind to a halt.

Reduce First

But what if all those zero emission cars were powered by renewable sources?

Renewable microgeneration must always come after energy efficiency

The wind doesn't always blow.  And, here in England at least, sunny days are rather less common than we'd like.

Renewables are also far less productive than our current fossil fuel burning power stations.  Which means when we start the big switch over to renewables, there's going to be less energy to go around, not more.

Hydrogen is not a source of energy, you have to produce it.  So that rules out fuel cell cars, too.

And we'll need all our arable land for food production, not bio fuels.

The first step must always be to reduce.

We need to reduce the energy and water we use in our homes, reduce the distance our food travels, and reduce the need for cars.