A laneway house in Vancouver, B.C., by Smallworks Studios.
Smallworks Studios  A laneway house in Vancouver, B.C., by Smallworks Studios.

Sustainable products and alternative energy systems have their place, but many green building advocates argue that simply reducing average home size is the best way to shrink carbon footprints. “If you’re talking about how can we make up the most ground per person, it’s [through] square footage,” says Nick Hartrich, LEED AP, advocacy and outreach manager for the Cascadia Green Building Council (CGBC). “We’re seeing a draw toward small, affordable, space-efficient design.”

The CGBC is backing up that claim by holding a housing summit called Build Small Live Large on October 26th in Portland, Ore. The conference will explore and promote the design and building of small, innovative housing units such as the project shown at left, by Smallworks Studios. Keynote speaker will be Ross Chapin, FAIA, a well-known advocate and designer of small-scale communities (and the subject of Residential Architect’s January-February 2006 cover story).

Chapin's name should bring in many architect and builder attendees. I've seen one of his communities in person and found it very appealing on both a visual and a planning level. Speakers from the finance, appraisal, policy, and development sectors will also present at Build Small Live Large. And among the conference’s many sponsors are AARP and the Urban Land Institute’s Northwest chapter.