Assessing Environmentally Responsible Design in Ecological Intentional Communities: Examples from Texas, USA
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This thesis builds a new model for assessing ecological intentional communities' environmentally responsible design, with a geographical perspective, by amalgamating concepts from the Built Environment Sustainability Tool and Living Environments in Natural, Social, and Economic Systems frameworks. Goals of the research were to (1) identify ecological intentional communities in the state of Texas, 2) determine if a relationship exists between their location in the physical environment and proximity to the built environment with their abilities to implement environmental-enhancing practices, and 3) to assess these capabilities and categorize the communities on a spectrum of environmentally responsible design. The overall objective was to determine if ecological intentional communities provided a framework for the future development on a larger scale to generate a more sustainable society. The study found 11 functioning communities in Texas, identified advantages and disadvantages to location and proximity, but no clear relationship between the factors. Ecological intentional communities were categorized as either regenerative, sustainable, or green on the spectrum of environmentally responsible design. This model, and study, serves as a foundation for assessing communities' capabilities of design through a geographic lens.