Steps to Space Preservation

The state of the system

What we have

Much of a space preserving system is already in place. Here are the pieces that we have:

  • Conservation easements, with standards for their establishment, maintenance, and enforcement.
  • Digital mapping of human constructions.
  • Geographic Information Systems1 that are capable, with appropriate map data, of measuring space.
  • Land record systems for titles, easements, and other land related legal matters.

What we still need

  • Standards for measuring space and space loss.
  • Definition of bounded area(s) where space credits are issued, bought, sold, and relinquished in exchange for space lost to development.
  • Certification of entities (individuals or organizations) for calculating space and space loss2.
  • Requirements for developers to measure space loss
    • as proposed in a development plan and
    • as built.
  • Acceptance of space credits and their ownership into land record systems3.
  • A regulation that requires demonstrated ownership of space credits, in a specified proportion to the space that will be lost in development, as a condition for development approval.
  • Adjustment of the land record system that allows for space credit termination4.
  • A marketplace for space credits.

How hard it is to meet the needs?

The short answer is that it is not very hard. The most difficult part is political commitment to a system that will permanently preserve space, and this is a decision that rests with local jurisdictions—in the United States most appropriately at the county level. Concerns about changes in the economics of development, particularly fears about lowered profits for developers, are likely to be the most difficult impediments (see Economic Framework Perspectives for more information).

Read more…

Kick start

A jurisdiction (county, city) can claim space credits for space that is already protected, and then use these credits to quickly create a space market and an economic space preservation system.

 Domain of space credits

Space credits are valid only within a specified domain of uniform geography and land records administration.

Economic Framework Perspectives

Examines some of the details of economic changes that might be expected from an economic space preservation system.


A uniform, fair system requires standards for space calculations and qualifications for those who make them.

Some Implementation Details

Shows the sequence of actions that couple and enable space preservation and development.


Summarizes the content of regulatory aspects of a space preserving economic system.


1 See Measuring Space (Technical) for discussion of Geographic Information Systems.
2 Similar to license requirements for surveyors.
3 New space credits are generated by new conservation easements and recording of space credit ownership generally would occur simultaneously with recording of new conservation easements.
4 Relinquishment of title to space credits is in many ways analogous to permanent de-registration of automobiles at the ends of their useful lives.