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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.
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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

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How The Evolving Housing Market Will Help Sustainable Communities

From the Climate Progess website, guest blooger Kaid Benfield discusses the problem of automobile-dependent subdisions in the United States. “Housing  values have declined much more, on a percentage basis, in sprawling  subdivisions as compared to walkable, centrally located neighborhoods, many of which have even held steady or increased in value.”

Combined, Baby Boomers and Millenials “are reducing the share of total households with children, traditionally  the portion of the market most interested in suburban homes with  sizeable lots for kids to play in and grownups to maintain.  Neither the  Millennials with their preference for urban lifestyles nor the empty-nesting Boomers fit that market to nearly the same degree  as, say, their parents did.”

According to the National Association of  Realtors’ 2011 Community Preference Survey, 58 percent of respondents indicated a preference for  “a neighborhood with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses  within an easy walk.”

It appears that nationally, the demand for rental property is outstripping the supply. According to the president of the National Multi-Housing  Council, “The country is on the cusp of fundamental changes in our housing  dynamics.  Preferences are driving more people away from the typical  suburban house and toward the type of lifestyle that rental housing  offers.”

How would that play out in York, which has a few relatively dense, walkable neighborhoods, but whose newer housing has been dominated for decades by large-lot subdivisions? Time will tell, but continued suburban sprawl seems neither economical nor sustainable in an era of rising gas prices.

One suggestion is an increase of apartments in otherwise owner-occupied houses. Another is smaller-footprint but  nonetheless high-quality types of housing, such as “pocket neighborhoods” of cottages and slightly larger homes arranged around a common green.

Read the rest of the article.

Also read the Portland Press Herald story, Buyers drawn to walkable neighborhoods with a community vibe and the 2009 Maine State Planning Office document, Creating Traditional, Walkable Neighborhoods – A Handbook for Maine Communities (PDF).

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