Archive for June, 2007
SÃ©cheron, the historic stronghold of the Geneva mechanical industry, today represents an encouraging ecological model. In 2001, the local authorities and multinational directors from the Sechon company joined forces to establish a pilot project combining sustainable urban development, renewable energy and aesthetics. Quoted in an article by Carole Vann:
â€œThe idea was to restore life to this perimeter, while linking the international district with the landing pier for â€œMouettesâ€ (the lake shuttle boat that joins the other bank). Drivers can thus leave their car in the car park and use public transport to go to workâ€, explains Albane Ferraris, a town planner for the City of Geneva.
Other aspects of rejuvenation included easier access to the tram and train, a huge garage for bikes, bike paths, a pedestrian walk from the lake to the Parc des Nations, a project to build an elderly peopleâ€™s home, a community centre for young people, an infant day care centre, low-cost housing, a Peace Community Centre and vast open spaces.
Other environmental initiatives include the company’s three tall translucent buildings made of recyclable materials so as to limit heating, air conditioning and artificial lighting needs. They have also designed a heat pump to draw water from a nearby lake to reduce the company’s CO2 emissions of 4800 tonnes and in fuel oil consumption of 1500 tonnes, while at the same time increasing heated surface area by 60%. In the end, 76% of the energy used will be renewable.
Posted in Models by fedwards on June 29th, 2007
Worldchanging is a wonderful environmental blogsite with a wonderful manifesto:
“That plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it’s here. We only need to put the pieces together.”
Furthermore, this blog has one section devoted specifically for sustainable cities. Although these are often based within the United States, many of the ideas within these posts can also be applied elsewhere. See below for a list of their most relevant stories.
Posted in Uncategorized by fedwards on June 28th, 2007
Another world-renown sustainable city is the capital of Colombia, Bogota. Sustainable transport is its key to fame with 329 km of bike paths criss-crossing the town. Sonia Edith Parra from the S-Dev Geneva 05 website has written about Bogota’s sustainable transport features below.
This transformation started in 1976 with the creation of “ciclovias”, a network of bike paths that are open on Sundays and holidays, between 6 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. On these days, 121 km of the main avenues and streets are closed to cars and invaded by two million bikers, skaters, joggers and walkers. The residents embraced this concept and it became such a success that an official construction project for a permanent network of bike paths was initiated. Today, in a city where over 900,000 cars circulate on a daily basis, Bogota has a network of 329 km of bike paths that allow nearly 182,000 people to circulate everyday.
The ciclovias have already become an integral part of the town’s identity that up to now was characterised by chaotic and not very efficient urban traffic, which took up 95% of the roads and which was responsible for 60% of the pollution. Bogota has undertaken serious urban works that aim at improving public areas and encouraging the use of bikes to go to work, school or simply as a leisure activity, thus reducing car and bus traffic which in turn creates economic benefits concerning health and the environment.
Read the rest of this entry »
As posted on the Metaefficient blog, a new book, 25 Houses Under 3000 Square Feet, by James Grayson Trulove has recently been released that offers an attractive alternative to the looming housing obesity trends. As stated in the article about the book on the Metaefficient blog:
“…Compact homes are efficient in many ways: they require less power, they require less maintenance, they require less materials to build, and they have smaller environmental footprint. Another advantage is that you can invest in land, rather than spend money building a huge home”.
Visit the Metaefficient blogsite for the full article.
Treehugger is a wonderful, colourful blog that lists many environmental innovations from around the world (Treehugger differs to Sustainable Cities Net as its content is not solely about urban issues). One such story recently published is about the green resort under construction in Shanghai’s Songjiang district. It’s features include a massive green roof and geothermal electric and heating systems. Check out the full story on the Treehugger blogsite.
The article below, Solar cells light up in Mexico, by Andy Extance, Jun 26, 2007, published on the Environmental Research Web, describes how solar cells, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), have been introduced to remote communities in Mexico. This electric light is cheaper, safer and provides better quality illumination than existing alternatives, like kerosene lamps. Furthermore, the Portable Light Project hopes to expand to a portable power platform, which could also provide ultraviolet (UV) LED-based water sterilizers, which would be a worthy contribution to the health of remote communities in developing countries. See the full article below.
Jun 26, 2007, Solar cells light up in Mexico
A non-profit pilot project is using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cells to provide light in remote communities in Mexico. And it hopes to extend the concept to other electronic devices.
“The idea is breathtakingly simple, taking a textile to combine a flexible solar source and semiconductor technologies. The sophistication comes from the electronic brain that controls the high brightness (HB)-LED.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Belo Horizonte or “Belo”, Brazil, experienced an incredible make-over towards sustainability in the early 1990s due primarily to the incorporation of the participatory budget process. A city numbering 2.3 million inhabitants with a history of industrial development causing massive pollution and after more than 20 years of dictatorship, the election of an obscure left-winged mayor and backed social movements saw the inclusion of “an administrative measure that allows the people to decide where to allocate public funds, by choosing their priorities in function of a given sum”. Hundreds of small-scale, democratically-chosen projects followed, cleaning up the city while lowering violence. According to Pimentel, the current mayor, â€œIt’s no longer possible to imagine improved living conditions without respect for the environment, that’s to say the planet’s well-being and future generations. That’s what we call sustainable development. The people choose and we invest in programmes that take these things into consideration.â€ See the article by Renan Antunes de Oliveira for more details of this sustainable and participatory transformation.
Below is a Commentary Article by Julia Hirsch and Jim Motavalli originally published in emagazine.com. It discusses sustainable transport ideas such as placing bike racks on trains, bike goods delivery services and bicycle transportation systems. Based in the United States, many of the ideas could also be implemented in other countries. Please feel free to comment in this blog about the pros and cons of this article.
COMMENTARY: Bikes on the Rails
Making Room for Bikes on Trains (and Everywhere Else)
By Julia Hirsch & Jim Motavalli
Traveling across Connecticut during rush hour can be beastly. During a typical afternoon on Interstate 95, cars crowd the road, crawling along at 30 miles per hour or less. Drivers, often solo and on cell phones, dangerously crisscross the lanes and slam on brakes, just to nose a few inches ahead. All the while, they waste fuel and spew dirty emissions. Traffic is not only an inconvenience, but also a symptom of our fuel dependence and environmentally irresponsible behavior. But what are the alternatives?
Read the rest of this entry »
Basle (or Basel), Switzerland, has an innovative energy policy which uses tax encouragement and incentives, and a solar market. Realising that they don’t have oil but they do have earth heat and driven to sustainable options due to the cantonal Constitution that Basle may not use electric current from nuclear means, the city has decided to dig a 2.5km deep hole to supply a geothermal power station to power 5000 households. Details below are from an article by Dominique SchÃ¤rer.
â€œWith the heat we think we can find there, we can cover several percents of our energy needsâ€, explains JÃ¼rg Hofer, head of the Office for the Environment and Energy. â€œItâ€™ll be a first in the heart of Europeâ€, explains an enthusiastic Bernhard Piller at the Swiss Energy Foundation (Schweizerische Energie Stiftung – SES).
There are also tax incentives to fund this sustainable energy source â€“ 5% on each electric bill, or $40 per resident per year â€“ yields 10 million ($8 million) francs each year. This sum is reinvested in renewable energies and energy savings, such as thermal insulation for old buildings.
The Goa 2100 Project plans how the city of Panjim in Goa, India can become a sustainable city. According to the Project Documents produced by the Goa 2100 Design Team: Aromar Revi, Rahul Mehrotra, Sanjay Prakash, and G.K. Bhat, a key way to achieve that successful transition to a sustainable greater city involves “RUrbanism“: “the sustainable integration of rural and urban communities”. RUrbanism is a new framework for how an existing city – particularly in the developing world – can be placed on a pathway toward sustainability.
The example of greater Panjim is a model of RUrbanism in practice. The application of RUrbansim could also apply to other cities at all levels of relative economic development that are facing the challenge of better integration between growing urban centers and the rural communities.
For more information about the Goa2100 project, visit the Worldchanging website. Alternatively, the Project Documents can also be downloaded from the internet and an academic paper has also been published in the journal, Environment and Urbanization.