Archive for February, 2010

Floating Office: Dispersed Work Environments

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 25th, 2010

Source: Springwise

From Floating Offices For Two:

If stand-alone offices can be set up in people’s gardens, then why not at the local marina? That, in fact, is exactly the concept behind WaterSpace, a Welsh company that offers self-contained floating office units designed to fit into a standard marina berth.  The H2Office is a purpose-built floating office that can comfortably accommodate one or two workers. In addition to a sun deck above, the H2Office comes equipped with a work area featuring wood-like flooring and an L-shaped desk and shelving unit across the beam. A carpeted L-shaped “break-out” area includes a pull-out berth for occasional overnight stays, while an included kitchenette features over and under storage cupboards. Optional extras include teak-effect flooring, kitchen appliances and solar panels.  In addition to the possibilities for telecommuting office workers and waterfront retail or professional space, WaterSpace notes that its floating offices could also offer a way for marina operators to create an income-generating floating business park that makes use even of areas with water too shallow for most boating purposes.

Don’t Forget The Green Bag: Rewards-Tagged Eco-Bags

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 24th, 2010

Source: Japan for Sustainability

Image: Toppan Printing Co.

An experimental project to develop and research a system to revitalize shopping districts through the use of eco-bags with Integrated Circuit (IC) tags was carried out in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward in December 2009.  30 stores in the Kami-ita Minami-Guchi Ginza Shopping District took part.  The purpose of this experiment included reducing the use of plastic shopping bags by distributing eco-bags to local shoppers, promoting visits to shopping districts, and testing the development and operation method of a distribution system that circulates points accumulated on the IC tag in the community as a form of local currency.

Toppan Printing Co. distributed free eco-bags with IC tags to 300 shoppers. Those who brought the eco-bag to the participating stores between December 7 and 23 received points by holding the bag out to the IC tag reader/writer which is connected to a PC. Accumulated points were saved on the IC tag, while the PC recorded the ID of the IC tag as well as the date and time of the store visit.

After December 23, a gift card draw based on the total points accumulated on the IC tag took place.

Read the full article.

Carrot City: Urban Agriculture Exhibition

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on February 23rd, 2010

Image: Inuvik Community Greenhouse

What is the place of food in the city?
How are “waste” spaces being transformed by food projects?
What are the implications on materials, technologies and structures?

Carrot City is a traveling exhibit that shows how the design of buildings and cities can enable the production of food in the city.  It shows how the design of buildings and towns is enabling the production of food in the city. It explores the relationship of design and urban food systems as well as the impact that agricultural issues have on the design of urban spaces and buildings as society addresses the issues of a more sustainable pattern of living.

The focus is on how the increasing interest in growing food within the city, supplying food locally, and food security in general, is changing urban design and built form. Carrot City showcases projects in Toronto and other Canadian cities, illustrating how such concerns are changing both the urban landscape and architecture. It also includes relevant international examples to show how ideas from other countries can be integrated into the Canadian experience. The exhibition contains a mix of realised projects and speculative design proposals that illustrate the potential for design that responds to food issues.

These projects are presented through three main sections, representing three scales of analysis: City; Community; and Home & Work. In addition to the projects, a fourth section, Products, illustrates technologies and systems that are innovating food production approaches in urban contexts.

Living Climate Change Video Challenge

Posted in Visions by Kate Archdeacon on February 22nd, 2010

Source: Inhabitat

As designers, we believe that envisioning the future leads to new choices and opportunities. Living Climate Change, an online community hosted by IDEO, presents a conversation designed to move the dialogue about climate change toward inspiring, human-centered scenarios that create new possibilities for business and society.

The Living Climate Change Video Challenge invites you to show us your vision of a future shaped by climate change, as we move along the path toward reduced carbon emissions.

The Challenge

Create an original video that envisions how climate change will impact our lives over the next 20 to 30 years. Looking beyond the doom and gloom and the policy discussions that have dominated the debate, how would you envision a human-centered, sustainable future? Which behaviors will change? Which will be preserved?

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City Farms in Cuba: Periurban agriculture

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on February 19th, 2010


Image: tardigrade via flickr CC

From “Cuba plans city farms to ease economy woes“, by Marc Frank

Project launched to ring urban areas with thousands of small farms in bid to reverse agricultural decline

Cuba has launched an ambitious project to ring urban areas with thousands of small farms in a bid to reverse the country’s agricultural decline and ease its chronic economic woes.  The five-year plan calls for growing fruits and vegetables and raising livestock in four mile-wide rings around 150 of Cuba’s cities and towns, with the exception of the capital Havana.  The island’s authorities hope suburban farming will make food cheaper and more abundant, cut transportation costs and encourage urban dwellers to leave bureaucratic jobs for more productive labour.  But the government will continue to hold a monopoly on most aspects of food production and distribution, including its control of most of the land in the communist-run nation.

The pilot programme for the project is being conducted in the central city of Camaguey, which the Cuban agriculture ministry has said eventually will have 1,400 small farms covering 52,000 hectares (128,490 acres), just minutes outside the town.  The farms, mostly in private hands but also including some cooperatives and state-owned enterprises, must grow everything organically, and the ministry expects they will produce 75% of the food for the city of 320,000 people, with big state-owned farms providing the rest.

On a recent day, dozens of people were hard at work plowing fields, hoeing earth, posting protective covering for crops and putting up fencing as the sun came up.  “This land they gave to us, the private farmers. I have four hectares (10 acres) and now they have leased me eight (20 acres) more,” one of the farmers, Camilo Mendoza, told Reuters.  “Look, on this side and the other side are other plots, and over there another. Here they have given quite a bit of land and support to private farmers,” he said.

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Last Minute Market – A 360° Action Against Waste

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 17th, 2010

Source: Food Climate Research Network

From the Current Interview on the Food Climate Research Network:

Last Minute Market (LMM) is a project where shops and producers who have unsold food which would otherwise be discarded are linked with people and charities who need food. Originating in Bologna, it is active in more than 40 Italian towns, with 2 new projects under development in Argentina and Brazil.  LMM offers services to enterprises and institutions in order to prevent and reduce waste production at its origin. It also develops innovative services for the recovery and reuse of unsold goods. Since the introduction of the Italian anti–waste law in 2008, non-food items can also be recovered.

LMM has 6 different and interrelated areas of activities:

* Food- unsold food which is still edible
* Harvest- vegetables not harvested which would be rejected by retailers due to cosmetic reasons or weather damage
* Seeds- seeds that do not conform with market standards
* Catering- products not served by public and private catering
* Books- unsold books that would otherwise be destroyed
* Pharmacy- unsold pharmaceuticals which can be used to meet the health needs of socially disadvantaged people

LMM helps:

* companies to manage surpluses in innovative ways, which can reduce waste disposal costs and improve the company’s links with the local community
* public institutions and the community benefit from the reduction in the flow of waste to landfill and improve food availability for the sectors of society that need it
* the third sector reduce operating costs and release resources for other projects

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From Freeway to Food Forest

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 16th, 2010

From “Building a Farm Where a Freeway Used to Be“, by Matthew Roth

A few weeks ago in San Francisco, a number of urban farmers opened a gate in a chain-link fence at Laguna Street, between Oak and Fell Streets, and entered an overgrown lot that has been unused for nearly two decades. The farmers brought with them steaming piles of mulch, which they cast over the edge of the ramps formerly used by cars to enter and exit the elevated Central Freeway spur above Octavia Street, arranging the soil in rows for planting vegetables and filler crops.  Since the Loma Prieta earthquake made the Central Freeway unsafe for travel, leading to its eventual removal and the re-design of Octavia Boulevard, those ramps have been one of the more poignant reminders of a distant vision of San Francisco, with freeways crisscrossing the urban environment, whisking motorists above the unfortunate city dwellers below.

The new Hayes Valley Farm (HVF) inverts the paradigm and reclaims the space for city dwellers, if only temporarily. “We call it ‘freeway to food forest,'” explained Chris Burley, Project Director for HVF and former organizer of My Farm. Burley was joined by nearly fifty volunteers at a HVF work party Sunday. “We’re trying to create a successful, sustainable urban farm in the heart of San Francisco.”

Burley and several other organizers were approached by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (MOEWD) last year with the idea to transform the unused lot into a farm. The HVF received a $50,000 grant from MOEWD for the first year of the project, money that comes from the operation of parking facilities along Octavia Boulevard. Burley expected to work the farm for between two and five years, depending on when the economy turns around and the land is developed.

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Tourism 2023 – creating a sustainable tourism industry

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 15th, 2010

Source: Forum for the Future via Food Climate Research Network

The Tourism 2023 project sets out to help the UK outbound travel and tourism industry understand the challenges it faces and plan for a sustainable future.

Climate change, population growth, shortages of oil and other resources will have dramatic impacts on how, where, when – and even if – people travel, and will reshape the industry over time.

We explored how factors like these could lead to very different worlds in 2023, each holding very different futures for the industry. We worked with tourism experts to create four vivid scenarios, and then generate a vision of the sustainable future the industry wants for itself.

Major companies and organisations have now pledged to collaborate to create a commercially sustainable tourism industry by the year 2023 which benefits communities in tourist destinations and protects the environment.

ABTA, Advantage Travel Centres, British Airways, Carnival UK, Sunvil, The Co-operative Travel, The Travel Foundation, Thomas Cook and TUI Travel were the first to sign the Tourism 2023 Vision. The founding partners are inviting other organisations to sign up to this vision and take part in the next phase of work, which will help shape the future of tourism.

The scenarios, vision and a strategy to implement the commitments were launched at the ABTA Travel Convention in Barcelona on October 8th, 2009. More than 100 people with expertise in different facets of the industry – including business leaders, academics, legislators, campaigners and commentators – have been involved in creating them.

Download the report.

Tourism 2023 is coordinated by Forum for the Future and supported by Defra.

How low can we go? Greenhouse Gas Reduction in the UK Food System

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 12th, 2010

Source: Food Climate Research Network

…the important point is that we are highly likely to need both technological and behavioural change to achieve reductions of this magnitude – and help avoid dangerous climate change.

From the report: How low can we go? An assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the UK food system and the scope for reduction by 2050.

When it comes to environmental impacts, the usual suspects have been mobility (the way we get around) and energy (the way we heat and light our buildings). However, there’s an equally significant actor in the creation of greenhouse gases: food. Some 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to what we put on our plates.

The UK has its own legally-binding targets to reduce production emissions by 80% by 2050 under the Climate Change Act. In order to make a proportional contribution to these reductions, and taking into account the fact that we need to continue to eat, WWF-UK and the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) suggest food-related emissions need to be cut by 70% by 2050. Achieving this is highly likely to require significant changes throughout the UK food system – from production and processing to cooking, the kinds of food we eat and what and how much we throw away.

The aim of this study was thus to determine the feasibility of a 70% cut, where in the food chain cuts could be made, and by how much. In addition, the work estimated the emissions arising from direct and indirect land use change attributable to UK food consumption. This was done by calculating how much land, including forest, is converted annually to agriculture and the CO2 emissions that arise from this process, and attributing an appropriate amount of these emissions to UK food consumption.

As such, this study provides the most accurate inventory of greenhouse gases attributable to UK food consumption to date: the results were striking – and disturbing. As stated above, direct emissions from the UK food chain are estimated to be about 20% of the UK’s total consumption emissions. However, according the method and assumptions used in the study, including the emissions attributable to direct and indirect land use change lifts the proportion of UK consumption emissions attributable to food from 20% to 30% of all UK emissions – or from 152MtCO2 to 253MtCO2. Reducing emissions from food will thus be key to tackling climate change.

This study investigated a range of approaches to making the cuts, constructing three broad thematic scenarios:

The first was an energy-based scenario in which the focus was on (a) the decarbonisation of non-mobile processes, such as food processing, cooking and refrigeration and (b) the decarbonisation of energy used in transport. The result? Cuts of some 57% by 2050. Not enough.

The second was an emissions-led scenario which centred on (a) reductions in direct GHG emissions, such as methane from cows and sheep and nitrous oxide from fertilisers and (b) improved production efficiency, including increased crop yields and improved livestock genetics. The result? Cuts of some 55% by 2050. Again: not enough.

The final scenario considered (a) conservation, through waste avoidance and using wasted food to generate energy and (b) changes to consumption patterns in the UK. The result? Cuts of some 60%. Getting there, but still not enough.

Visit the website for the abstract or full report.

Green Star Social Housing: Lilyfield, Sydney

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 10th, 2010

Source: Green Building Council Australia (GBCA)

The Lilyfield Housing Redevelopment in Sydney is the first social housing scheme in Australia to be awarded a Green Star certification, and is also the first project of its kind to achieve a Green Star residential rating on the East Coast of Australia.

Representing ‘Australian Excellence’ in environmentally sustainable design, this project by HBO+EMTB for Housing NSW sets a new standard for public housing developments in Australia, and demonstrates that highly sustainable public housing outcomes are both realistic and achievable in terms of building function and use, project demographics and importantly, housing affordability.

ESD initiatives featured in the project:

Indoor Environment Quality
* All 88 apartments are naturally ventilated and there is no air conditioning in the development


* Roof elements over stair wells have been designed to support and orientate solar hot water and photovoltaic (PV) panels, which provide on-site energy
* All roofs to north facing units are tilted in order to maximise solar access to those units during winter (low sun angle) and to avoid direct excess solar radiation to those units in summer (high solar angle)
* The lighting design has utilised energy efficient bulbs throughout
* A common area interior lighting occupant movement and daylight sensor
* Solid floors exposed to the northern sun for thermal mass
* Low-E glass in all east and west façades


* Water efficient fixtures throughout apartments and common area


* Exceeding the benchmarks of TRA-1 by providing significantly less car parking than the minimum – there is no on-site car parking in the development

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