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: 4.1 (14 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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