Archive for January, 2010

Japanese Bike Parking Station

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 24th, 2010

Source: Treehugger


From “Tokyo’s High Tech Bike Parking Revisited” by Sami Grover.

From solar-powered bike parking pods to the Indian-designed vertical bike tree, TreeHugger is not short on neat concepts for better bike storage. But it was Tokyo’s automated bike parking that really got us excited. Now the Guardian has created a short English-language video piece on how the system works.  Essentially, bikes are fitted with a small sensor strip, and as the bike is rolled into the machine—it scans the identity and ensures you have a fully paid membership.

Membership, incidentally, costs the equivalent of about 15USD a month. And just check out the speed at which the bike is returned to the user—almost exactly 30 seconds from arrival at the unit and inputting your membership details, your bike is returned and you can pedal away. Impressive stuff.

Read the full article by Sami Grover.

‘Rental Goat’ Weeding Service: low-carbon solutions

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 22nd, 2010

Source: Japan for Sustainability via Food Climate Research Network

From “Company to Begin ‘Rental Goat’ Weeding Service

Mikuni Construction Co. in Kitakyusyu City, southern Japan, announced in August 2009, that it would be launching a new service to rent goats for weeding grass starting in April 2010. This unique weeding method does not require any machinery, and is drawing attention as an environmentally friendly technique.

Having first heard about weeding with goats from his business associate, Katsuhiko Sera, the president of the company, has been investigating the approach for three years in an effort to devise a viable business model. He bought five goats in May 2009, and by tethering the goats with a cable, about 500 square meters of grass can be grazed over the course of a week. A trial “rent-a-goat” began in August 2009, but will be fully launched in March 2010.

Goats eat various types of weed. They eat all aboveground stems and leaves, and prefer to graze on slops, which people often find it difficult to weed. Furthermore, weeded material does not require disposal when using this method and the goat dung produced simply decomposes and is returned to the soil.

In addition to renting goats, the company plans to provide its own weeding service by increasing the number of goats, and to manufacture cheese and other products from goat milk. Mr. Sera hopes that his rental goat service will serve not only as a new tool to maintain urban green spaces, but will also assist the comfort of local residents.

From “Company to Begin ‘Rental Goat’ Weeding Service

“Fair Miles”: rethinking food miles

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on January 21st, 2010

Source: Food Climate Research Network

Fair Miles: Recharting the food miles map by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) & Oxfam warns that Western concern over climate change can do more harm than good if it cuts demand for food produced in developing nations. The authors say locally produced food can actually cause greater emissions of greenhouse gases, and that consumers can harm the livelihoods of poor farmers in developing nations if they stop buying their produce.

“Climate change will hit poorer rural people in developing nations first, fastest and hardest,” says James MacGregor of IIED. “High-value trade with such nations is critical to build rural economies that are resilient to climate change. The trade in fresh produce is one part of a global solution to this challenge…When consumers focus on ‘food miles’ they are ignoring the other social and environmental issues embedded in their shopping decisions…More than one million livelihoods in rural Africa are supported in part by UK consumption of imported fresh produce. We urge consumers to avoid knee-jerk reactions and think instead of ‘fair miles’ and recognise that there are also social and ethical aspects to choices about where food comes from.”

The researchers are not saying locally grown food is a poor choice. “Eating local food when it is in season is a critical element of a balanced diet, and is complementary to eating development-friendly foods out-of-season,” says MacGregor. The book argues that as farmers in developing nations contribute so little to climate change, they shouldn’t be penalised because we emit more in the West. It says consumers serious about changing their behaviour in order to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions should be cycling or walking to their supermarket.

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Apple-filled Subway: Making a point

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 20th, 2010

Source: Treehugger

From “New York Subway Train Filled With Apples Is Emptied Onto Platform, Illustrates Food Waste (Video)” by Jaymi Heimbuch.

Every day, New York City residents waste 270,000 pounds of food. Want to know what that looks like? Here’s an unforgettable way to imagine it – fill up a subway train with the equivalent amount of apples, and release it onto the people waiting on the platform.  New York’s City Harvest food bank created this commercial to illustrate the point that as thousands of pounds of food is wasted daily, thousands of residents don’t have enough to eat.  City Harvest works to change that on a local level.

This year alone, the group will “rescue” and deliver more than 25 million pounds of quality food that would otherwise go to waste.  The group collects food from the food industry, including restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers, and farms, and delivers it for free to nearly 600 community food programs throughout New York City using a fleet of trucks and bikes as well as volunteers on foot.

And no, 270,000 pounds of apples weren’t used to make the point. Here’s a video on how they created the video.

Read the full article by Jaymi Heimbuch.

[See the website for a Melbourne example of food-rescue ]

Beauty & the Bike: from research project to community change

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 19th, 2010

Source: Beauty & the Bike via Treehugger

Extract from Beauty and the Bike: Teenage Girls and Urban Mobility Culture:

Beauty and the Bike aims to document the mobility culture, and particularly the bicycle culture, of an important, future oriented, target group. The project is focussed on girls and young women between 10 and 25 years old, and their attitude towards their travel choice, with the bicycle as the centre of interest.

The cultural dimension to European urban traffic planning has, until now, been regarded as at best marginal to planners’ concerns. With an education – and a contemporary practice – grounded in the practical solution to apparently technical problems, urban travel planners have historically had little to do with deeper socio-cultural trends.  But now that urban travel has taken centre stage in a new and radically different kind of production – the battle against global warming – the urgent need to change CO2 emitting urban travel habits is requiring planners to take account of the cultural climate their apparently technical solutions have spawned. Beauty and the Bike is a cultural urban travel project that aims to help urban traffic planners, by looking at one such mobility culture – that of the teenage girl and young woman.

Central to this project are the ways teenage girls choose their travel modes in two European countries, the United Kingdom and Germany. The core production activity of the project is cultural, with a documentary film, portrait photography exhibition and catalogue as key outputs. But its work is also rooted in, and supported by, progressive urban travel planners in Darlington (UK) and Bremen (Germany). Teenage participants in the project live in these two urban areas.

Looking at their lives superficially, they seem similar – with internet and iPods, fashion, first loves, and the stresses of school. But when you look more closely you find an important difference: their choice of travel modes. And the ways and means teenagers are able to get around, shapes their identity and sense of independence. Especially for girls, these are of vital importance for their development. Whilst most of the Bremen girls use their bikes on a daily basis, the Darlingtonians mostly walk, take the bus, or hope for a lift from one of their parents.”

The project led to the launch of a bike hire group, Velodarlo, as well as a local campaign for cycle paths in Darlington.  Velodarlo has recently been awarded funding to become DarLOVElo, which will inherit the Velodarlo Bike Pool and receive initial funding of over £30,000 to buy some 40 more bikes and set up a base near the centre of the town. The young women from the Beauty and the Bike project are committed to founding the Bike Club that will be the central feature of the new project, and they have been receiving skills training from members of Darlington Cycling Campaign in repairs and maintenance.

Renewable District Heating: Southeast False Creek

Posted in Models by Daria on January 18th, 2010

Image: Southeast False Creek Official Development Plan

Media Release, January 14:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport), Margaret MacDiarmid, MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and Marvin Hunt, Surrey City Councillor and member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ National Board of Directors, today ‘flipped the switch’ on the City’s first renewable district heating system. The $30 million system, which uses energy created from wastewater, will heat the Olympic Village and keep 2,800 athletes and officials warm during the 2010 Winter Games.

The Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU) will provide heat and hot water to all buildings in Southeast False Creek, including the Olympic Village. It marks the first time in North America that heat recovered from untreated wastewater is being used in an urban centre and as the primary source of energy. This green technology will be supplemented by solar hot water.

“Our Government is pleased to invest in green energy for the Olympic Village and surrounding area,” said Minister Lunn. “The reusable energy generated from the Neighbourhood Energy Utility will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately lead to cleaner air for local residents.”

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Rotterdam Market Hall

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 18th, 2010

Source: Inhabitat

From “Construction Begins on Amazing Tunnel-Shaped Rotterdam Market Hall“, by Bridgette Meinhold.

Rotterdam’s new Market Hall creates a 100,000 sq meter public market space covered in an arch of ten floors of 228 apartments. Of those apartments, the majority will be for purchase, but 102 of them will be available as rental properties. The bottom two floors will house restaurants and shopping, while underground, there will be a supermarket as well as a parking garage with 1,200 spaces. The archway will be protected from the elements on the front and back by flexible suspended glass facades.

The design for the Market Hall is a result of new laws from the Netherlands that require public markets to be covered, and also that certain rooms for a residential dwelling must have natural daylight. Each apartment is situated so that rooms and living spaces are situated on the exterior of the archway with views out to the city, while the kitchen, dining and storage is on the interior, with lots of insulation to block the noise from the bustling market below. One hundred stalls will be available for the sale of fresh foods daily and the interior surface of the archway will feature changing pictures projected from LCD screens.  This mixed-use development combining residences, shopping, restaurants and a public market will be a central hub of activity for citizens and tourists. The project is being developed by Provast and was designed by MVRDV.

Read the full article by Bridgette Meinhold.

Fighting Food Deserts: Integrated Farms and Housing, South Bronx NY

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 15th, 2010

Source: SustainWeb

The Blue Sea Development Corporation has a reputation for integrating emerging environmental technologies into high quality, affordable housing developments across New York City.  Their new state of the art affordable housing complex planned for the South Bronx, NY, will feature a 10,000 square feet (930 sq meters) fully integrated rooftop farm, designed by BrightFarm Systems.

The greenhouse will use left-over heat from the residential portion of the building and water harvested from the greenhouse roof. The farm will be used to provide fresh, perishable vegetables to a local non-profit food cooperative.  The rooftop farm will be able to supply enough produce to meet the annual fresh vegetable needs of up to 450 people. Like many inner city, low income communities, the South Bronx suffers from food deserts, where residents lack access to fresh vegetables at affordable prices.

The rooftop farm will make a significant contribution to food access and public health in the neighborhood.

Source: SustainWeb

Transforming Cultures: State Of The World Report 2010

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on January 14th, 2010

Source: Eanth-L, e-list for the field of ecological/environmental anthropology.

Like a tsunami, consumerism has engulfed human cultures and Earth’s ecosystems. This cultural system encourages people to define their happiness and success through how much they consume. But on a finite planet, this system is maladaptive and threatens to cause significant disruptions to Earth’s climate and ecosystems, and subsequently to human civilization. If, on the other hand, we channel this wave, intentionally transforming our cultures to center on sustainability, we will not only prevent catastrophe, but may usher in an era of sustainability—one that allows all people to thrive while protecting, even restoring, Earth.

Worldwatch Institute‘s Transforming Cultures project turns a critical eye to how we can shift today’s consumer cultures into cultures of sustainability. The key to this transformation will lie in harnessing institutions that play a central role in shaping society–such as the media, educational services, business, governments, traditions, and social movements–to instill this new cultural orientation.

In State of the World 2010, sixty renowned researchers and practitioners describe how we can harness the world’s leading institutions—education, the media, business, governments, traditions, and social movements—to reorient cultures toward sustainability.

The report, scheduled for release in January 2010, will include articles from 60 eminent researchers and experts on consumerism, sustainability, and cultural change. It will provide information on how we can make the needed shift to a culture of sustainability and illustrate how people around the world are already taking important steps.

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Local Food Systems: Not Only Farmers

Posted in Opinion by Kate Archdeacon on January 13th, 2010

Source: Grist

Image: metro centric via flickr CC

From “It takes a community to sustain a small farm” by Steph Larsen

These days it seems the most popular person to be in the food system is the “local farmer.” Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, and their size and popularity grow all the time. Local food is trendy—even the First Family is in on it.  But as anyone who has ever raised grain or livestock can tell you, the farmer is not the only person in the chain of players from her farm to your fork. In addition to producers, your food chain includes processors, distributors or transporters, and retailers.  In other words, to have a truly local food system, we also need local butchers, bakers and millers, local truck drivers, local grocers, and a community that supports them in all their efforts.

In the world of farm and food policy, we’ve paid a lot of attention to production end of the food system…  …But most products aren’t made to eat directly out of the field. Even salad greens or apples, things we typically eat raw and straight from the field, must be washed and sorted before your local farmer will sell them.

As Tom Philpott pointed out in early November, the infrastructure for small-scale processing is woefully inadequate, having suffered decades of atrophy and consolidation—to the point where an otherwise profitable farmer can be driven out of business because she has no where to take her pigs for slaughter, her grain to be milled, or her tomatoes to be “sauced.”

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