Designing Sustainable Communities Designing Sustainable Communities
Learning from Village Homes


Judy Corbett & Michael Corbett
Format: Soft Cover
Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 1559636866
Copyright: 2000

The movement toward creating more sustainable communities has been growing for decades, and in recent years has gained new prominence with the increasing visibility of planning approaches such as New Urbanism. Yet there are few examples of successful and time-tested sustainable communities.

Village Homes outside of Davis, California offers one such example. Built between 1975 and 1981 on 60 acres of land, it offers unique features including extensive common areas and green space; community gardens, orchards, and vineyards; narrow streets; pedestrian and bike paths; solar homes; and an innovative ecological drainage system. Authors Michael and Judy Corbett were intimately involved with the design, development, and building of Village Homes, and have resided there since 1977.

In Designing Sustainable Communities, they examine the history of the sustainable community movement and discuss how Village Homes fits into the context of that movement. They offer an inside look at the development of the project from start to finish, describing how the project came about, obstacles that needed to be overcome, design approaches they took, problems that were encountered and how those problems were solved, and changes that have occurred over the years. In addition, they compare Village Homes with other communities and developments across the country, and discuss the future prospects for the continued growth of the sustainable communities movement.

The book offers detailed information on a holistic approach to designing and building successful communities. It represents an invaluable guide for professionals and students involved with planning, architecture, development, and landscape architecture, and for anyone interested in creating more sustainable communities.


“This book provides the most complete and comprehensive approach to sustainable development that I have seen to date. I recommend it to any serious-minded architect or planner who wants to tackle the important economic, environmental and social challenges of our day.”
-- Susan Maxman, Past President of the American Institute of Architects

“Designing Sustainable Communities clearly lays the conceptual foundation for creating healthy, vibrant, environmentally responsive, new communities.”
-- William Browning, founder, Rocky Mountain Institute’s Green Development Services

“The Corbetts’ work illustrates the practicality of designing organically, with nature and for people, and provides a very useful and greener counterpoint to the literature on the New Urbanism.”
-- Randall Arendt, Vice President for Conservation Planning, Natural Lands Trust, and author of Conservation Design for Subdivisions and Growing Greener

About the Authors

Michael Corbett is principal in the consulting firm Town Planners and author of A Better Place to Live (Rodale, 1981).

Judy Corbett is founder and executive director of the Local Government Commission, a nonprofit membership organization consisting of mayors, city council members, and county supervisors from across the state of California. She is co-author of Village Homes: Solar House Designs (Rodale, 1979).

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