governments need to develop new policies and refine
existing development regulations to address environmental
sustainability. This means that the physical resources
of this earth should be used in a way that maintains
the ability of natural systems to support human and
other life. This should be done while meeting basic
human needs, being fair, and respecting cultural and
The problems with incorporating sustainability into
the planning and development process include the lack
of a framework for defining sustainability, a lack
of a methodology for applying sustainability principles
to the project at hand, and a lack of understanding
the continuum from principles to policies to desired
The starting point for the effort should be scientifically
and ecologically based—preventing the accumulation
of substances in places and in quantities that cannot
be absorbed by natural systems, ensuring the continued
productivity of natural renewable systems, using non-renewable
resources efficiently while developing alternatives,
and preserving ecological diversity.
These scientific principles must be applied in a fair
and equitable manner and should be integrated into
good planning practice, including the concepts of
Smart Growth (limiting low intensity growth and placing
more emphasis on collaborative decision making), The
New Urbanism (emphasizing urban design, including
form-based principles, within a regional context),
and Permaculture (emphasizing sustainable agriculture,
design with nature, and appropriate materials). Sustainability
indicators should be considered for inclusion in the
implementation program and, where used, should be
integrated with quality-of-life and other indicators.
As a start, local sustainability programs must include
provisions that lead to better designed, more compact
communities. The most effective way of achieving efficient
land use patterns is to make compact communities more
desirable places to live so people will have little
incentive to move farther and farther away. Compact
communities will reduce vehicle miles traveled, reduce
energy and materials used for infrastructure, and
preserve land for recreation, agriculture, and habitat.
After more than 30 years of professional practice,
Robert Odland Consulting is now focusing its efforts
on implementation programs and development regulations
in the following areas:
• Comprehensive Sustainability Programs
• Integrated Sustainability Regulations
• LEED for Neighborhood Development
• Downtown Revitalization
• Land Use & Renewable Energy
• Environmental Conservation
• Community Design in Extreme Climates
• Growth Management Systems
• Intergovernmental Coordination
Bob Odland possesses a unique background that enables
him to deal with these diverse issues of sustainability.
His interests and career combine a broad body of professional
knowledge, an ability to synthesize input from varied
disciplines, and an ability to deal with the transition
between vision and reality.
Early in his professional career, his work focused
on resource and environmental management. He was the
coastal planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments
and then worked with the California Coastal Commission
in its initial year of operation. Subsequent coastal
work included managing the coastal plan for Volusia
County, Florida, and preparing the implementing ordinance
for the Pacific Grove coastal program.
Other resource management work included serving on
the staff of the California Assembly Revenue and Taxation
Committee, where he worked on agricultural land preservation.
Bob also incorporated agricultural lands preservation
and other environmental issues into general plan and
regulatory projects he managed. One notable example
was the Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations
for the Disney World area, which dealt in detail with
development on sensitive land, habitat protection,
stormwater runoff, construction wastes, wellhead protection,
and other environmental issues.
Bob was one of the original staff members of the Solar
Energy Research Institute (SERI), now renamed the
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where he first
began his work of pulling the various parts of good
planning and management practices into coordinated
systems at the local level. He was responsible for
the creation of the Community and Consumers Affairs
Branch, and became its Branch Chief.
During his tenure at SERI, he became a member of the
National Review Board for the Community Technology
Assessment Program sponsored by the U.S. Department
of Energy, one of the first programs at any government
level to recognize the significance of an interdisciplinary
systems approach to land use, environmental protection,
housing, utilities, resource conservation, and energy
use. He also organized and was chair of two national
conferences on community-scale energy systems.
After leaving SERI he co-managed the first EIR/EIS
in the country on wind energy production and analyzed
wind energy opportunities in Montana and Colorado.
He then worked for a European wind and photovoltaic
energy manufacturing company for two years. Subsequent
energy work included managing one of the first studies
of the relationship of energy use to land-use patterns,
carried out for the Southern California region, with
assistance from the California Energy Commission.
Bob was the project manager and author of “The
Sustainable City,” a proposed chapter of the
City of Los Angeles General Plan Framework, to which
he contributed. He also was the sustainable development
consultant to the East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment
Commission, which dealt with military base conversions.
Bob has prepared downtown mixed-use ordinances for
many cities, such as Anaheim and Oakland. He also
worked with the Los Angeles Central City Association
to identify barriers to residential development in
downtown Los Angeles and with the City of Denver in
assuring that changes to the downtown regulations
will enable Denver to implement its new Downtown Plan,
part of the mayor’s sustainability program.
Bob is currently preparing the downtown development
regulations for Anchorage, which are based on form-based
Bob was a member of the team that developed the Pajaro
Valley Growth Strategy, a successful intergovernmental
effort to save agricultural land by focusing more
development within the City of Watsonville. He prepared
environmentally sensitive ordinances for the portion
of Douglas County, Nevada, within the Lake Tahoe Basin
and for hillside development in Pittsburg, California.
He is currently preparing a model sustainable land
use code for Taos County, New Mexico.
He was on the board of Urban Ecology for ten years
and managed the initial phases of its award-winning
Blueprint for a Sustainable Bay Area before he left
to begin work in Eastern Europe on land use issues,
including advising the Union of Russian Cities on
implementing sustainable development. While working
in Europe, he participated in the United Nations Habitat
II Conference at Istanbul, which addressed housing
and sustainable development.
Upon returning from Europe in 1996, he was a consultant
to the Association of Bay Area Governments in support
of the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development,
a regional offshoot of the President’s Council
of Sustainable Development; a consultant to the North
State Institute for Sustainable Communities; and a
sustainability consultant to the OZ Entertainment
Bob has made presentations on sustainability at the
National APA Conference, CNU Congress, and CCAPA Conference.
He has also made lectured on the subject at UC Berkeley,
UCLA School of Law, Sonoma State University, University
of Colorado, and the University of New Mexico.