Janis Birkeland has released a book titled Net-Positive Design discussing why existing approaches towards sustainable development have been ineffective.

‘Sustainable’ urban planning, policy and design professes to solve sustainability problems, but often depletes and degrades ever more resources and ecosystems and concentrates wealth and concretize social disparities. 

Positive Development theory holds that development could create more net ecological and social gains than no construction at all. 

It explains how existing conceptual, physical and institutional structures are inherently biased against the preservation and expansion of social and natural life-support systems, and proposes explicit reforms to planning, design and decision making that would enable development to increase future options and social and natural life-support systems.

Net-Positive Design and Sustainable Development is aimed at students, academics, professionals and sustainability advocates who wonder why existing approaches have been ineffective. 

It explains how to reform the anti-ecological biases in our current frameworks of environmental governance, planning, decision making and design – and suggests how to make these changes. 

Cities can increase both the ‘public estate’ (reduce social stratification, inequity and other causes of conflict, increase environmental quality, wellbeing and access to basic needs, etc.); and the ‘ecological base’ (sequester more carbon and produce more energy than used during construction and operation, increase ecological space to support ecological carrying capacity, ecosystem functions and services, restore the bioregions and wil- derness, etc.). 

No small task, this book provides academic theory and professional tools for saving the planet, including a free computer app for net-positive design. 

“Birkeland is a true pioneer in the field of sustainability theory," says Dr. Paul Downton, proprietor Ecopolis, founder Urban Ecology Australia, co-founder Ecocity Design Institute.  

"This book sets out her key arguments and proposes a design tool to enable collaborative creation for “positive development”. Like Birkeland’s advocacy, it is comprehensive and challenging and offers real options for going beyond sustainability.”