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Archive for the ‘New Urbanism’ Category

Lansdowne Live

Controversy has been brewing in Ottawa over a proposal to turn a brownfield site into a stadium, to be called Lansdowne Live. John E. Martin, an Ottawa businessman, has invited Sherwood Engineers to join a group of politicians, government officials, architects, developers and community leaders to a private breakfast meeting this Thursday, Aug. 27, to discuss the situation. Sherwood will be presenting a case study based on our experience turning a brownfield site into a stadium in San Francisco. We will let keep you updated about the project as the dialogue continues.

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Daylighting urban streams has long made sense aesthetically, but now the environmental, traffic calming, and air pollution benefits can be quantified based on new studies of the famous Cheonggyecheon running through downtown Seoul.

From the New York Times:

Cities from San Antonio to Singapore have been resuscitating rivers and turning storm drains into streams. In Los Angeles, residents’ groups and some elected officials are looking anew at buried or concrete-lined creeks as assets instead of inconveniences, inspired partly by Seoul’s example.

By building green corridors around the exposed waters, cities hope to attract affluent and educated workers and residents who appreciate the feel of a natural environment in an urban setting.

Environmentalists point out other benefits. Open watercourses handle flooding rains better than buried sewers do, a big consideration as global warming leads to heavier downpours. The streams also tend to cool areas overheated by sun-baked asphalt and to nourish greenery that lures wildlife as well as pedestrians.

But four years after the stream was uncovered, city officials say, the environmental benefits can now be quantified. Data show that the ecosystem along the Cheonggyecheon (pronounced chung-gye-chun) has been greatly enriched, with the number of fish species increasing to 25 from 4. Bird species have multiplied to 36 from 6, and insect species to 192 from 15.

The recovery project, which removed three miles of elevated highway as well, also substantially cut air pollution from cars along the corridor and reduced air temperatures. Small-particle air pollution along the corridor dropped to 48 micrograms per cubic meter from 74, and summer temperatures are now often five degrees cooler than those of nearby areas, according to data cited by city officials.

And even with the loss of some vehicle lanes, traffic speeds have picked up because of related transportation changes like expanded bus service, restrictions on cars and higher parking fees.

“We’ve basically gone from a car-oriented city to a human-oriented city,” said Lee In-keun, Seoul’s assistant mayor for infrastructure, who has been invited to places as distant as Los Angeles to describe the project to other urban planners.

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Speaking at a conference organised by his Foundation for the Built Environment, Prince Charles said slums like Dharavi, featured in SlumDog Millionaire, offer a better model than western architecture for housing booming urban populations, reports the Guardian reports.

Slums, shanti towns, and informal settlements have environmentally and socially sustainable attributes including using local materials, walkable neighbourhoods, and a mix of employment and housing. Prince Charles described this as “an underlying intuitive grammar of design that is totally absent from the faceless slab blocks that are still being built around the world to ‘warehouse’ the poor”.

In a few years we may recognize that these communities have a “built-in resilience and genuinely durable ways of living,” said the Prince.

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  • The U.S. Agriculture Department’s commodity farm program prohibits farmers who grow any of the five federally subsidized commodity crops (corn, soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from growing fruit and other vegetables.
  • San Francisco may be becoming the most eco-neurotic city in the nation. (via Apartment Therapy Re-nest)
  • The village of Huangbaiyu in China was supposed to be a sustainable, model village, but failed miserably.
  • There’s a chance that the dams on the Klamath River may be removed. Pretty much everyone except the dams’ owners are in favor of this, but the decision will probably come down to whether its cheaper to remove the dam or to fix it to the level it needs to be re-certified.
  • The Bureau of Reclamation allowed flood waters to pass through the Glen Canyon Dam for the third time since the dam was built in 1963, hoping that the 60-hour flood will provide enough water to rehabilitate the Colorado River habitat. Some people think the government is more motivated by hydropower than by concern for the environment.
  • Hydrogen-powered cars may not come around as soon as the President thinks.
  • PSEG is hoping to build a wind farm off of Cape May, New Jersey. Chances are there will be plenty of public protest about this, seeing as its one of the nicest beaches in NJ.
  • Boston is building a bike lane network and map system by having bikers map out their typical bike routes in Google Maps to see where the most need is.
  • Solar thermal power plants are increasingly being considered a reliable renewable power source around the world.
  • Loreto Bay, a sustainably minded New Urbanist development in Baja, Mexico, is a big hit with eco-conscious (and non) home buyers alike. Sherwood has been active in the project, helping to create sustainable building codes for the whole region.
  • NYC has recently passed legislation that should bring about a comprehensive stormwater management plan for the city and help NYC progress towards having swimable water bodies surrounding it. I’ve done multiple swims in the Hudson and East Rivers, but I can’t wait until the day when I can just jump in whenever I want.

Photo of the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell taken by myself this past summer.

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  • Treehugger has pointed us towards a great video produced by Ecotricity, the UK based green-energy company, of the installation of their wind turbines in Bristol, UK.
  • Nigeria has announced an initiative to invest in solar panels for rural areas of the country, using the panels to not only provide electricity, but to use them to power water pumps and treatment systems.
  • Bejing’s polluted skies continue to be a concern as the Olympics approach, despite the vast improvements over the past 10 years. With 244 Blue Sky days, up from 100 in 1998, things are heading in the right direction, but there is a lot of doubt as to whether it will remain that way after August. And since a Blue Sky day can still be considered polluted by American standards, there are even more questions as to whether these standards even mean anything.
  • Another big issue in China is the Three Gorges Dam, which the government has finally admitted might have significant environmental impacts.
  • Jared Diamond discusses world consumption rates, the discrepancy between those of the industrialized world and those of the developing world and the tendency for developing nations to increase consumption rates as they pursue first-world lifestyles.
  • California sued the US EPA on Wednesday for having denied the state a waiver to proceed with its proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles.
  • The Dot Earth blog interviews Peter Barnes, the founder of Working Assets, about his belief in the “cap and dividend” system, which charges a rising fee on sources of greenhouse gas emissions and returns the revenue to citizens through direct payment.
  • Eduardo Penalver discusses the effects of high gas prices on urban development patterns: proximity to public transit and pedestrian-friendly communities will become more desirable and valuable than lengthy commutes.

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  • Senate’s updated energy bill could pave the way for billions of dollars of government loan guarantees for nuclear energy projects
  • Solar cells achieve a record of 42.8% efficiency
  • A New York Times editorial praising the use of tap water, from a nutritional and environmental standpoint (via Sustainable Flatbush)
  • USA Today profiles complete streets programs in development across the country
  • Two types of innovative washing machines hit the internet: a detergentless one from Haier, available in Europe only, and a conceptual one that would reuse the rinse water and not require a water hookup, perfect for apartment living.
  • Get to know more about recyclable plastics
  • Grist has created a list of the 15 greenest cities in the world. Reykjavik tops the list, with Portland, OR coming in at number 2. SF and Austin also make the list for American cities. (via Streetsblog)

Image from Coroflot

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photo from Marine Current Turbines

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