Rockville Town Square, a transit-oriented development nearing completion in Rockville, Md., was in the national news recently. It received favorable coverage in the New York Times article A Piazza for a Maryland Suburb.

Writing for the online magazine Godspy earlier this year, Paul Grenier and Tim Patitsas wrote an extensive critique of Rockville Town Square titled The Liturgy of the City Street. While Rockville Town Square has certain flaws, I felt their critique was unfair in some respects. Here is my response to Grenier and Patitsas’ article:

More power to Grenier and Patitsas’ message of the liturgical spirit, if it can bring us better-designed and more durable architecture. And godspeed to their sermon if it can bring us an economic/political system and cultural life that is friendlier and less rushed and stressed. May their words reach all those who have the power to effect such a change.

However, their article requires some refinement before I, and perhaps most new urbanists, can agree with its critique of new urbanism.

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Nationmaster is a terrific resource for world statistics and country comparisons. I was interested to compare energy use with living standards. Is it possible to maintain a decent quality of life with low per capita energy consumption? Which nations are leading by that measure?

Here’s a scatterplot of primary energy consumption per capita vs. the Human Development Index (a combination of life expectancy, literacy, education, and GDP-based standards of living).

I tend to give the HDI axis a bit more weight. The best performer, then, is Portugal. Argentina and Chile are close with lower energy consumption but also lower HDI.

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