Archive for September, 2009

Measuring Urban Heat via Cargo Bike

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on September 29th, 2009

Source: Environmental Research Web

Image: amsterdamize

Researchers from Wageningen University, Netherlands, used the warm days in August to map out the urban climate in the cities of Rotterdam and Arnhem. During four time intervals on a 24 hours’ day, mobile traverse measurements were carried out with two cargo bicycles with measurement equipment.

The results may indicate to which extent heat stress may become a problem. Future projections of climate change show that frequency of heat waves will increase substantially in the next decades. Particularly in cities heat stress may become a serious problem due to the so-called Urban Heat Island effect (UHI), the phenomenon where the average temperature in the city is higher than in the surrounding area.

For technical reasons, the researchers use cargo bikes to transport the measurement apparatus. With a cargo bike it is easy to manoeuvre through the narrow streets in the city, while the instruments remain horizontal. The cargo bikes are equipped with a thermometer that registers the temperature, a humidity meter, a sensor for wind direction and wind speed, sensors that measure the amount of sunlight and sensors for the exchange of heat radiation. The measurements were conducted every second. In addition, the route was photographed at fixed intervals from 50 cm above the ground with a fisheye lens pointed upwards. This can be used to determine the percentage of the sky that is “covered” with buildings or greenery as seen from street level. This coverage largely determines the strength of the urban heat island effect. The felt temperature is determined by the air temperature combined with radiation, humidity and wind. The instruments are powered by a solar panel mounted on the baggage carrier.

Read the full article.

Source: Environmental Research Web

Quite Contrary After School Farm

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 25th, 2009

Source: Treehugger


Kids in Carrboro, North Carolina USA, can now take advantage of Quite Contrary Urban After School Farm – an after-school program that not only teaches them about food and farming, but it aims to leave the car behind too. This is much more than a petting zoo.

Quite Contrary Urban Farm is offering much more than the usual “here are some cute goats” type of farm experience. Local school kids will be picked up by a “walking bus” and they can then participate in a wide range of activities – from recycling hunts to farm design to selling the produce from the farm at the farmers market. Etiquette lessons are also included (a welcome addition for the rest of the community!), and kids that are dropped off and picked up car-free even get a discount.

Read the full article by Sami Groves.

Re-Imagining Urban Spaces: PARK(ing) Day 2009

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 23rd, 2009

Source: Inhabitat

Image: rebar

On September 18, in cities around the world, artists, activists and citizens temporarily transformed metered parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces, as part of an annual event called PARK(ing) Day.

Originally invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day challenges people to rethink the way streets are used and reinforces the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure.

“In urban centers around the world, inexpensive curbside parking results in increased traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution,” says Rebar’s Matthew Passmore. “The strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant urban human habitat.

PARK(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the metropolitan landscape.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Carbon-Offset Kiosks at San Francisco Airport

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 22nd, 2009

Source: World Environment News

Image: 3degreesinc

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is launching the Climate Passport program allowing travelers to offset the impact of their air travel through an airport kiosk. This will be the world’s first airport kiosk-giving people the opportunity to calculate the environmental impact of their flights and purchase carbon offsets to address that impact while at the airport.

Where does the money go? The City has conducted extensive research on each project supported by the program to ensure that all carbon offsets are sourced from a specific project that results in real, quantifiable, permanent greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Resilient Cities Conference

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on September 21st, 2009

Source: PostCarbon Institute

EcoCompact City
Image: EcoCompactCity

Three of Post Carbon’s urban experts will feature in a special PostCarbon Institute evening event at the Resilient Cities: Urban Strategies for Transition Times conference October 20-22 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The conference, featuring Paul Hawken, Majora Carter, and many other internationally-recognized speakers, will focus on how cities and urban regions in North America can prosper in the face of growing sustainability challenges. Participants will advance their thinking on three key subjects:
– best current practices for managing sustainable urban systems;
– capturing opportunities in the green economy; and
– strategies for building widespread sustainability collaborations.

The Post Carbon panel –a “shoulder event” the evening of Tuesday, October 20th–will be an honest conversation on what cities truly face in a world of growth limits, and what citizens and leaders can realistically do to cultivate local resilience. It features Bill Rees (Our Ecological Footprint), Anthony Perl (Transport Revolutions), and Warren Karlenzig (How Green is Your City?), and will be moderated by PCI Program Director Daniel Lerch (Post Carbon Cities).

“Resilient Cities” is organized by Gaining Ground in association with Smart Growth BC and the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics. Register for the conference.

Italy Remote Farming

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 18th, 2009

Source: Springwise

Remote Vegetable Growing_LeVerdure

“Have you forgotten where the vegetables on your table come from?”

It’s a question agricultural firm Azienda Agricola Giacomo Ferraris asks potential customers. Offering Italians the opportunity to reconnect with the origins of their food, the company’s innovative online offering—Le Verdure Del Mio Orto (‘The Vegetables from my Garden’)—lets anyone build an organic garden right from their web browser.

Users first select a garden size based on the number of people they’d like to feed; 30m2 is sufficient for 1–2 people and costs EUR 850 per year. The virtual gardener can then choose from 40 different types of vegetables, using a highly intuitive interface that includes information on expected yields and harvest times. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 16th, 2009

Source:  Doors of Perception


Depave has been created to inspire and promote the removal of unnecessary concrete and asphalt from urban areas. Depave is a project of City Repair, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon, USA.


Livable cities where people and wildlife coexist and thrive amidst clean air, clean water, and an abundance of plants, trees, and vegetation.


The problem is concrete. Paved surfaces contribute to stormwater pollution, whereby rainwater carries toxic urban pollutants to local streams and rivers, greatly degrading water quality and riparian habitats. Pavement also disconnects us from our natural world.

The solution is clear. The removal of impervious pavements will reduce stormwater pollution and increase the amount of land available for habitat restoration, urban farming, trees, native vegetation, and beauty, thus providing us with greater connections to the natural world.

Impervious surfaces such as concrete and asphalt can be useful for providing access for pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, and cars. However, the paving over of millions of acres of land and vegetation have contributed to numerous economic and environmental problems. In many cities, over half of the urban land is paved for roadways and parking lots. While we may need sidewalks and roadways, we can minimize the pavement we use for driveways and parking areas, and thereby restore the natural environment. Ideally, we shouldn’t be paving over habitat and farmland to accommodate auto-centric development, but through depaving, we can reverse the damage!

Visit the website.

Download the (US)  How To Depave Pamphlet.

Sunlight for all: New Approaches to Apartment Design

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 14th, 2009

Source: World Architects


From Stacked, layered, condensed by Isabella Marboe, arkitektur.aktuell.

“Every apartment should have between two and three hours of sunshine and a relatively large outdoor area of its own.”

In the rigid block grid of Favoriten, Vienna,  architects Rüdiger Lainer + Partner have carried out an innovative antithesis to the standard block perimeter development.

On a site measuring 9,855 m2 the developer, Heimbau & Eisenhof, wanted to erect a children’s day care centre and 250 apartments with a gross floor area of 32,037 m2. The architects took a gamble – and won. They rejected the constraint of a block edge development up to 25 metres deep.  Instead the volume required by the brief was innovatively reorganized and combined to create four free-shaped colourful buildings that now soar towards the sky like futuristic inhabitable concrete mountains.  With cheekily projecting elements the buildings capture the bright sunny heights above the block and form squares and paths. Each of them is a different size, with a different configuration, is stepped differently and perforated by visual axes and loggias.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Urban Sprawl: integrated farming proposals

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 10th, 2009

Source: From The Soil Up (FTSU) Newsletter

Thomas Boyd_Oregonlive
Image: Thomas Boyd, The Oregonian

From Blurring the urban-rural line in Damascus by Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian

“Instead of saying, ‘Here’s the boundary for growth,’ maybe we should start with the farm first and create the community around farms”

Larry Thompson has always been ahead of everybody else. He stopped using pesticides and fungicides on his fruit, berries and vegetables years before organic became iconic, and long ago eliminated the middleman distributor by selling direct at his fruit stands and at seven farmers markets.  He donated the use of 3.5 acres to Mercy Corps Northwest, which teaches Russian and Cuban immigrants how to farm Oregon-style. He earns ovations at land-use conferences, gladly consorts with government planners and won a Western region sustainability award at the 2008 New American Farm conference.

But not even Larry Thompson has grown a city before, and his ideas this time would turn Oregon’s heralded land-use system on its head. The region’s growth regulators seeded the new city of Damascus on Thompson’s 77-acre farm. In Thompson’s vision, the city can be a place where urban development and agriculture entwine like his graceful marionberry canes. Part of the farm could be developed for housing, he suggests, while he continues to farm the better soil. The farm’s crops could supply an “eco-restaurant” at the top slope of the property. Along the road below could be a fruit and produce stand. Next to it could be a community kitchen and education center where customers could preserve the berries they just bought or learn how to improve their home gardens.

Read the rest of this entry »

Living Planet City

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 8th, 2009

Source: Worldchanging, taken from an Article by Christa Morris

Living Planet City

“Welcome to the Living Planet. It’s clean, it’s efficient — and it’s doable. Today.”

WWF Canada‘s The Living Planet City’s bright animation of thriving urbanism illustrates 20 big ideas to make any city more sustainable.

In the “west end,” a combined heat and power plant uses “waste” heat energy to provide chilled water for a nearby supermarket. In the “east end,” a municipal waste station feeds into a biofuel plant, complete with solar, green roofs on top. At the waterfront, wave, tidal and wind energy power the city while a rapid transit station ferries people back and forth: all this with plenty of park space.

Clicking around brings up summaries of the technology and provides links to learn more. Once properly informed and inspired, visitors are encouraged to get the ideas out there by sending a link to elected officials, friends, and business owners. You can even send a suggested message to your slated Copenhagen representative.

Good start! But is it good enough?

How do you adapt and perfect a Living Planet City when there are so many varying starting points, and thus, varying challenges? One solution would be to make the city as interactive as its sister site, “the Living Planet Community.”

In the Living Planet Community, you can commit to any number of thousands of climate-friendly actions or add your own, and the site will calculate the GHG reduction you achieve. You can even create groups — of friends, coworkers, or strangers — and set a goal for GHG reduction while engaging in planet-friendly competition.

Why not merge this community and the city? Why not take it further, with a sustainable Sim City-esque program, where, after creating your city, you get realistic feedback on its CO2 output? A well-designed simulation could train leaders (and future leaders) to see the changes necessary to achieve emissions reduction goals in their unique cities.

Read the full Article by Christa Morris, on