The Mandala Village plan offers sustainable solutions to climate change

When asked to write a column on low impact development and sustainability, I was happy to say yes.

Sustainability is the issue driving the development of our Mandala Village (mandalavillage.com) in Indian River County. This is where I spend the most time and focus, working to understand the dynamics and implement solutions.

When I started writing, I felt overwhelmed. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently stated bluntly that major climate disasters are inevitable and the trend is irreversible. Without much courage and determination, the solutions to the global, local and personal environmental problems we face will be unattainable.

It is comforting to know that there are long lists of actions we can and must take to turn things around. But before we can be sure that these lists are enough to be the solutions, we must first tackle what I consider to be the main obstacle.

To put it bluntly, as a society, we demonstrate a complete lack of the will necessary to change public policy. This is, in part, because we can’t even agree that the real problems are in fact real.

I can make a list of challenges and a list of solutions, but I can’t get past this central dilemma: how do we motivate the whole population to take environmental challenges seriously?

Here are some of the sustainability solutions we incorporate at Mandala Village.

1) Landscaping will be primarily Florida native plantings with edible and Florida friendly additions.

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An illustration of the proposed market for Mandala Village in Indian River County.

A few years ago, Dr. Richard Baker and the Pelican Island Audubon Society organized two conferences on the critical importance of native planting in Florida. If you think you can sit down because you think the sea level won’t even rise a millimeter, you still can’t escape the tears that await you when there are no more songbirds. to sing. The long list of bird species that have gone extinct in recent years is a bitter truth.

There is an inseparable link that connects native plant species to native insects and native birds. And if you’re wondering why it’s important for the bird population to decline, just google what happened when Mao Zedong launched the Four Pests Campaign in 1958. Spoiler alert: there’s no end to it. happy.

In addition to the positive impact on our native wildlife, native Florida plants reduce irrigation water use, reduce and even eliminate the need for toxic fertilizers and pesticides, and reduce nutrient laden runoff. This is something we can demand for new developments and implement in our own backyards.

An illustration giving a glimpse of what Mandala Village would look like north of 53rd Street and between 58th and 66th Avenues in Indian River County.

2) Mandala Club will be a Net Zero Energy community, or at the very least a Net Zero Ready community, with a focus on energy efficiency and rooftop solar PV panels.

The scientific consensus is that the impacts of climate change are potentially enormous and threaten our very existence. The need to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels is an absolute, and renewable energy generation will eventually have to be implemented on a global scale. I don’t know if point-of-use power generation will be part of the long-term picture or not, but until then that’s all we can do.

3) We will make electric car charging available to all Mandala Village residents.

Electric cars are the future, but there is a caveat. Car addiction negatively impacts the quality of our lives in more ways than we think: traffic jams, energy consumption, pollution and our health.

Electric cars will help reduce energy consumption and pollution, but unfortunately they can exacerbate traffic, they won’t reduce sprawl, and they will likely encourage the continuation of our “one person per vehicle” reality.

4) We are creating a mixed-use community with an emphasis on walking and wellness.

The village will not be completely self-sufficient, but residents will be able to walk or cycle to a market or cafe. The secondary benefit of walking is better health. Walkability is a key element of traditional neighborhood development, a smart growth concept that should be encouraged.

5) Finally, we have a plan that answers the basic question I raised earlier, although I think it’s more accurate to call it a hope than a plan.

Richard Bialosky, architect, Mandala Village

If you read the philosophical foundation of our project on the website, you will see that there is something deeply holistic about our mission that goes far beyond a simple list of components. True sustainability must go to the core of who and what we are. I hope our village will be a magnet for like-minded residents who will in turn create a synergistic community that will take our goals and vision to the next level.

The undeniable fact is that we don’t have time to wait for big solutions. We already have examples of community developments that have successfully reduced human impact on the environment.

On a small scale, yes; but if we imitate, implement and, above all, amplify these small changes in our way of life, in our individual behaviors and in public policies, they will have a cumulative effect.

What other choice do we have?

Architect Richard Bialosky lives in Indian River County, where Mandala Village is planned for 53rd Street, west of 58th Avenue. This column originally appeared in the Indian River Neighborhood Association newsletter.

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