Blue Urbanism: Exploring Connections between Cities and Oceans | U.S. Green Building Council
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Blue Urbanism: Exploring Connections between Cities and Oceans

GBCI: 0920001059

This self-paced reading activity examines the many ways in which cities draw from ocean resources and, in turn, affect marine environments.
Eligible for 1.5 CE HOURS.
  • 1.5 CE

Published on: August 21, 2014

Average: 4 (12 votes)


This reading based online course offers reading excerpts from the book Blue Urbanism: Exploring Connections between Cities and Oceans by Timothy Beatley.

In Blue Urbanism, Beatley explores issues ranging from urban design and land use, to resource extraction and renewable energy, to educating urbanites about the wonders of marine life. He examines how emerging practices like community supported fisheries and aquaponics can provide a sustainable alternative to industrial fishing practices. Other chapters delve into incentives for increasing use of wind and tidal energy as renewable options to oil and gas extraction, and how the shipping industry is becoming more “green.” Through engaging stories and examples, Beatley also explores the many ways in which urban citizens can interact meaningfully with the ocean, from beach cleanups to helping scientists gather data.

In this course, you will read the following excerpts from the book:

“The Urban-Ocean Connection” introduces the concept—and importance—of blue urbanism. It outlines the many ways in which cities, both coastal and inland, draw from ocean resources and, in turn, affect marine environments. The simple, central premise is that maintaining healthy oceans benefits cities, and failing to do so harms them; this chapter discusses the importance of spreading awareness of the ocean/urban connection, and fostering individual and civic engagement to improve it.

“Urban Design for a Blue Planet” details many of the innovative ways in which cities can design with blue urbanism in mind. From practical, incremental steps like engineering “soft” shorelines and blue roofs for flood control to more fanciful underwater buildings and floating neighborhoods, this chapter provides a tour through strategies and designs that can expand urbanites’ interactions with the marine environment—and prepare for future shifts in that environment.

“Reimagining Land Use and Parks in the Blue City” explores the ways in which coastal cities can begin to incorporate local blue environments into their city planning. From the recreational (water parks and trails) to the practical (blueways and coastal setbacks) to the preservationist (protected marine areas and sewage disposal management), planning and policy that engages the blue environment as part of the urban setting has many long-term advantages.

For more information about the book, please visit The full book is available for purchase at


  1. Understand the importance of the interconnection between marine environments and urban communities.
  2. Identify potential behavioral changes for individuals and policy changes for city governments that can promote the health of global and local ocean ecosystems.
  3. Assess designs for urban spaces that engage urbanites more fully in their local marine environment.
  4. Identify ways in which blue design innovations can address public safety issues like rising sea level, storm surges, and excessive rainfall.
  5. Identify municipal policies and programs that can further integrate the blue environment into the urban one.
  6. Understand the importance of shifting to view the blue environment as an important part of a coastal city, and planning land use and city operation accordingly.
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Created by

Island Press
Washington, DC
United States


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Total 13 commentsLeave a comment

Architecture designer, HKS, Inc.

great video


Great Course, very informative.

Director of Design , SAGE ARCH


Interior Designer , Ethan Allen Inc.


Mechanical Engineering Department Manager, Burns & McDonnell Engineering

great reading, appreciated the examples of cities that are already incorporating features to increase the visceral experience of residents

Regional Planner, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commiss

Really well-written, informational read. Certainly a subject that should be discussed more in the mainstream.

Senior Architectural Project Manager, HFSC4

The level of sugar-coating forced a bit of bile to surface.

Engineering Technician, U.S. Army

As a resident of a coastal city working on numerous coastal projects I found this educational opportunity very intriguing. The idea of mitigating for sea level rise and climate change is an interesting challenge. I would personally like to see a more robust approach to using oyster reefs for shoreline protection and wave attenuation. I have studied the effects of bulkheading and seawall construction and they always destroy the intertidal areas due to increased wave action during storms and high tide events. Oyster reef construction is a win-win for environmentalists and developers for habitat restoration and infrastructure protection. I think it should be used widely on the East Coast.

President, Alicia Ravetto Architect PA

This topic helps understand the importance of shifting to view the blue environment as an important part of a coastal city, and planning land use and city operation accordingly. It shows what you can do as an individual, as a city planner, and operator. It provides an overview of the connections of all ecosystems and their impact on climate change and the coastal areas of the world.

Design Manager, Gensler

Loved it, very insteresting, some new things I didn't know yet how everything is so interconnected. You often hear about issues separately.
This reading should also qualify for AIA HSW credits. HInt!

Founder and Principal, Ecoworks Studio

This course is three chapters from the book Blue Urbanism: Exploring Connections between Cities and Oceans by Timothy Beatley. I found the content to be both interesting and informative. The excerpt does an excellent job of articulating the importance of the marine environment as a part of our overall ecosystem and the opportunities that cities (particularly coastal cities) have to support the health of ocean habitat.

Senior Project Architect, Intertek - ATi

Very interesting topic that professionals in sustainable fields may not deal with on a day to day basis. There is a lot to learn from the reading which is not short but it is well written and full of interesting facts. The course is designed to be an overview of Blue Urbanism and an introduction to the book which the reading is a sampling of. Bridging the gap between urban planning, sustainable management, and marine ecosystems is important to the future of not only our coastal cities but all of our cities around the world.

Design Manager, Gensler

I think we deal with this on a daily basis, especially the sustainable professionals. Sewage water often ends up in the ocean when city's can't handle it (oftten when there is a storm), that water creates dead zones through algae and kills all else. so that's a huge area we all are dealing with all day, either by reducing the amount of sewage conveyance or using waterless/compost toilets.
Stormwater retention on site is another aspect most of us should be dealing with, otherwise that may end up in the oceans as well, especially along coastal cities or along rivers.

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