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(Continuedfrom Page 120) These promised potencial buyers the status of a McMan-sion with the convenience of a condominium, but the concept felt as if it was created more to preserve the property values of larger neighboring homes than to serve the needs of the community's residents.

There has been a nationwide shift toward deconstruction (led by companies like Planet Reuse and Buffalo Reuse), the surgical taking apart of homes to salvage the building materials for reuse, but often the building materials used in these developments aren't of good enough quality to warrant salvaging.

I don't have the perfect solution for how to transform these broad swaths of subdivisions, and while I've heard much talk of the foreclosure tragedy, I've heard nary a peep about what to do about it.

A recent article in the New York Times spotted an emerging trend of kids usurp ing the abandoned pools of foreclosed homes for use as temporary skate parks. (It is interesting that this was big in the 1970s, as you can see by watching the rad skate documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys.) It's a great short-term strategy for adolescent recreation (and for ridding neighborhoods r of fetid pools, which often harbor West Nile 5

virus), though it's not a comprehensive so- ¡j lution to the problem of increasingly aban- §

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doned, ill-maintained, and more dangerous streetscapes.

But there are some interesting avenues to be pursued. Part of President Obama's proposed massive public works program, for example, is to be dedicated to clean tech infrastructure. Included in this is the intent to weatherize (that is, make energy-efficient) one million low-income homes a year.

One can already see how those in the construction industry can begin to make the shift from new construction to home retrofitting. It's the centerpiece of The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, the best-selling, Al Gore- and Nancy Pelosi-endorsed book by environmental activist Van Jones. Though we hear a lot in the news about new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings and incentives for implementing the latest green technology, it's often the case that fixing leaks and insulation is just as effective in reducing the carbon footprint of single-family homes (which account for about 18 percent of the country's carbon footprint).

I still dream that a self-sufficient mixed-use neighborhood can emerge.

As people increasingly stay put—and resell homes less—this retrofit strategy makes sense. Millions of homes, not just low-income ones, are in need of the sort of weatherization the Obama plan describes. The nonprofit Architecture 2030, established in 2002 in response to the global warming crisis, is leading a major effort in this arena with the goal of dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions of the building sector by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed, and constructed.

And after decades of renovation obsession that has simply gotten out of hand, it seems a prudent time to swap Viking ranges for double-paned windows and high-efficiency furnaces. It's the perfect moment to fix what we've got. Despite their currently low numbers, green homes typically resell for more money than their conventional counterparts.

I still dream that some major overhaul can occur: chat a self-sufficient mixed-use neighborhood can emerge. That three-car-garaged McMansions can be subdivided into rental units with streetfront cafes, shops, and other local businesses. In short, that creative ways are found not just to rehabilitate these homes and communities, but to keep people in them.

Allison Arieff is editor at largefor Sunset and the former editor in chief of Dwell magazine. She is coauthor of the books Prefab and Trailer Travel and the editor of many books on design andpopular culture, including A irstream: The History of the Land Yacht and Cheap Hotels. She lives in San Francisco.

From Tlx New York Times, January 11,2009. © 2009 The New York Times. All rights reserved. Used by permission and protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The printing, copying, redistribution, or retransmission of the material without express written permission is prohibited.

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