Archive for the ‘Sustainable Cities’ Category
The term “Sustainable Cities” refers to cities around the world who are actively making changes to become more sustainable. By recognising the interest, motivations, models of these cities we hope to encourage others to also make such changes. If you would like to tell the world about what your city is doing to achieve urban sustainability and would like to add your city to this Sustainable Cities list please do so by making a post on the site. To do this go to “How to use this site” and follow the prompts. You can see the complete list of Sustainable Cities here.
Source: The Atlantic Cities
From an article in early November by Sarah Goodyear, talking about Bicycle Habitat’s emergency supplies deliveries around New York after Hurricane Sandy:
New Yorkers are learning things from this storm, and from the relief efforts that are ongoing even as another weather front sweeps through this afternoon, forcing another round of evacuations. Practical things. They are learning where to go for help, and how to help each other. They are learning how to get around when the transportation system fails, and the importance of redundancy and resiliency in all kinds of infrastructure. They are learning what you really need to have on hand when supply chains are disrupted, and what you can do without. They are learning how to assess the accuracy of information, and how to spread it. They are learning that individual efforts, pooled together, can make a substantial material difference in a crisis.
Bicycles are part of all this. In the early days after the storm, when the trains and buses stopped running, bikes were one of the few reliable ways of moving people, objects, and information around streets choked with debris. They don’t require the gasoline that people are still lining up for hours to get. They don’t need to be charged up – just add some basic food to a human being, and you can power the legs that turn the cranks.
Many of those of us who use bikes for transportation in better times knew their potential to help out in disaster already. Bikes have been part of my family’s emergency plan since we first made one in the wake of 9/11. After we had a kid, we planned for his bike needs at every stage, from a seat on the back to a bike trailer to a tandem to his own solid ride that would go any distance. A friend suggested on Twitter that the Office of Emergency Management should encourage bike tuneups as part of basic disaster preparedness measures, like a go bag or stockpiles of food and water. Yes to that.
Sure, there are lots of things that bicycles can’t do, or that motor vehicles can do better, if they’re available. Some Bicycle Habitat customers drove heavier donations, like bottled water and canned food, out to the Rockaways to supplement the bicycle effort.
But as I pedaled along the streets of the peninsula, my panniers filled with hand warmers and tampons and energy bars, I was struck again by the power of the bicycle. It is a machine that is uniquely able to leverage and amplify human effort. And this is precisely what we have seen all over the city in the days since the storm hit: The humble work of individual people, harnessed to simple mechanisms, can gain strength exponentially. And move a city forward.
Read the full article by Sarah Goodyear.
Image by Hester Street Collaborative
Ernest Beck writing for a “series of models of how architecture and design firms do pro bono” describes how one firm approaches the complex issues surrounding “designing for the public good”.
The article describes in detail how the firm approached its engagement with the community in order to “sustain the commitment” for infrastructure required for serious work.
From Hester Street Collaborative By Ernest Beck
For Marc Turkel, Morgan Hare and Shawn Watts, partners in Leroy Street Studio, a small architecture firm in New York’s Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood, the solution has been a two-pronged approach: to integrate community design elements into a practice that services a broad cross-section of clients, and separately, to nurture an autonomous nonprofit unit, the Hester Street Collaborative (HSC), that spearheads community design programs. Taken together, they form an unusual model in the field of design and social change.
The architects put together a design education program that included building a sculpture garden with the students. “The idea wasn’t to create the next generation of architects and designers, but to allow students to improve their environment,” Frederick explains.
It’s a great article about the how the development of different approaches to complex problems can be successful as well as a great example of how a business can engage with a local community that it is part of.
by Dayna Burtness via Springwise
The new real estate is your roof (or even your front yard). With new thinking, the right information, being connected and a little entrepreneurship, new models of sustainability and new economic value can be revealed. Put all of this together and you get Seglet.
Solar power is not quite as straightforward in the United States as it is in many other countries, largely because there is no countrywide policy on solar encouragement. Nonetheless, rooftops and other sunny spaces remain a desirable asset for utility companies and independent power producers, and that’s where Seglet comes in. The California-based site aims to connect property owners with commercial and individual users interested in renting or profit-sharing rooftops and other property segments.
Property owners begin by listing their roof or open land for free; Seglet automatically adds solar radiation and other details. Energy companies, independent power producers, energy consultants, investors, urban agriculturalists and others in need of sunny, open space can then browse through Seglet when they need a location for a new project. Along with each listing, they can easily see the site’s solar radiation, wind speed and wind direction, and meteorological data.
Article by Sara Phillips via ABC Environment blog
Two reports about Sustainable Cities in Australia (not so recent but still interesting). The interesting thing about these reports is the context in which they were researched and the organisations that commissioned them. One is through the Australian Conservation Foundation and the other was undertaken by KPMG on behalf of Built Environment Meets Parliament, the lobbying arm of a collection of planners and developers. The context of the reports was “…that if we want an understanding of how sustainable we are as a nation, we need to look to our cities.”
The article includes,
The ACF report measured publicly available information across 15 separate parameters. Predictably, for an organisation originally established to protect Australian flora and fauna, the ACF examined such measures as amount of land given over to parks, and ecological footprint – the theoretical amount of land required to create the goods and services used each day by a city’s citizens.
What is most interesting, however, is that the ACF also included measures of economic prosperity. They looked at debt levels for households and employment data. The inclusion of these measures, according to Matthew Trigg, report co-ordinator from the ACF, was because even the greenest city is not sustainable if its economy is not.
“Sustainability is not just about the environment. Economic issues become environmental issues and environmental issues are wrapped up in economic issues. The two are intertwined.”
Meanwhile, KMPG, which does not have a reputation for being a firm overrun with dreadlocked hippies, included many measures of environmental sustainability in its report. Taking its cues from COAG, KPMG reviewed cities’ plans for “social inclusion, productivity and global competitiveness, climate change mitigation and adaptation, health, liveability, community wellbeing, housing affordability and matters of national environmental significance.”
By Matt Seaton via The Guardian Bike Blog
Janette Sadik-Khan’s brilliant marketing of sustainable transport (dedicated bike lanes, cycle sharing, even pedestrianising Times Square) has transformed New York. Now for that congestion charge …
This is a great article about how the landscape for riding and walking in NYC has been transformed. This has been done by presenting a business case argument but of course the benefits are manifold. I liked the quote about how pedestrian’s are most economically valuable participants on the street and should be treated accordingly.
This series of podcasts from 2008 from ABC Radio, Radio Australia. It discusses the challenges of cities in the Asia Pacific region with a broad range of local and regional participants. It discusses transport, infrastructure and livability along with community and identity, how they are defined, exist, can be planned for as well as how they affect the fabric of cities.
It is still current and thought provoking, with the local participants providing a broad range of technical, historical and cultural viewpoints from across the region.
Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre
Slowly out of the shadows by Sturle Hauge Simonsen
Cities demand a stronger voice in curbing global biodiversity loss.
It has yet to receive the same acknowledgment as climate change, but putting the breaks on biodiversity loss is becoming increasingly important on the political agenda.
Reports state that continuing biodiversity loss is predicted, but could be slowed (pending required policy choices) and a Stern review-like report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) has given natural assessments a significant boost.
Better frameworks, please
As countries strived to carve out the careful wordings for a ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the COP10 in Nagoya, cities and local authorities used the momentum to boost their own role in managing biodiversity.
Their message is clear: Give us a better policy framework and we will unfold the local potential to protect global biodiversity.
As the world turns increasingly urban, with more than five billion people projected to live in cities by 2030, it is becoming increasingly recognised that cities are important role players in halting global biodiversity loss.
From Hot water to get cities out of energy trouble? by Liz Kalaugher
Cities are generally warmer than the rural land surrounding them, in a phenomenon known as the urban heat-island effect. It’s not just above-ground temperatures that rise – the soil beneath also experiences several degrees of warming. Now, researchers have found that the extra heat stored in groundwater beneath cities around the world could provide enough geothermal energy to heat urban homes.
“In most cities, with a variety of populations and climates, the large amount of geothermal energy stored in the urban local subsurface is capable of fulfilling the annual space-heating demand for years and potentially decades,” Ke Zhu of the University of Tübingen, Germany toldenvironmentalresearchweb.
Together with colleagues from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, St Francis Xavier University, Canada, and ETH Zürich, Switzerland, Zhu measured groundwater temperatures in Cologne, Germany, and Winnipeg, Canada. Both cities had extensive underground warming, with temperatures 3–5°C higher than surrounding rural areas. Similarly, the subsurface beneath urban green spaces was cooler than that below business districts.
The urban heat-island effect arises because of factors such as buildings preventing heat from leaving the ground at night, changes in the properties of the ground surface and the absence of plants that provide cooling by evapotranspiration.
“Urban aquifers with elevated temperature are attractive shallow geothermal-energy reservoirs, and meanwhile there is high energy demand just above,” said Zhu. “In our opinion, it is important to study the geothermal potential of urban heat islands before planning large geothermal projects.”
Source: The Fifth Estate
From Sydney’s clean energy plan could be a world class revolution in the making by Boris Kelly
A packed house at Sydney Town Hall on Monday 25 October heard Alan Jones, chief development officer, Energy and Climate Change for the City of Sydney, declare his aim to transform Sydney into a carbon free city reliant on 100 per cent renewable energy, in a plan that has been lauded as potentially one of the world’s “great revolutions”.
The purpose of the event, part of the City Talk series, was to update the community on progress of Sydney City Council’s 2030 Sustainable Sydney plan.
The plan has set a target of reducing carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030, but Jones went further, suggesting that with the addition of bio-gas to power the City’s proposed trigeneration plants, the magic 100 per cent could potentially be achieved.
In his introduction to the event, leading climate scientist Tim Flannery called the City’s master plan “one of the great revolutions that we are seeing around the world.” In a video recorded interview Flannery told the audience: “You won’t know Sydney in 10 years time. The sources of energy will be utterly transformed and this is being done by the City of Sydney because there is no other organisation that can do it. The City has access to the land and the services.”
Posted in Sustainable Cities by fedwards on January 28th, 2009
Please find an abstract from a news story posted on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development website. More and more sustainable cities can only be a good thing!
The Climate Group Plans To Develop Low Carbon Cities In China
ChinaCSR, 19 January 2009 – The Climate Group has announced plans to develop 15 to 20 low carbon cities in China in the next three to five years to encourage the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and address the problem of climate change. The Climate Group said in a report released in Beijing that China would miss the best opportunity to retain its technology advantage and core competitiveness in the world market if it lets slip the opportunities brought by the global financial crisis.
Wu Changhua, director for Greater China of The Climate Group, said that as a path for development, the core aim of a low-carbon economy is to increase energy efficiency and change the energy structure. She said that this would mean cleaner, more efficient and lower green house gas emission for China. Wu added that besides big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, the Climate Group would mainly target second-tier and third-tier cities in China for the low-carbon initiative as these smaller cities provide more opportunity for development.
To read the full story visit the World Business Council for Sustainable Development website.