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Posts Tagged ‘resources’

Toolbanks: Shared resources for neighbourhood non-profits

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 17th, 2012

Source: The Atlantic Cities

Photo: Christian City via volunteerpublishing

From “The Awesome Power of Toolbanks” by Andrew Zaleski:

[…]

Picture a massive shed stocked with shovels, rakes, power tools, wheelbarrows, ladders, water hoses, work gloves—even a tiller and a generator. Since opening last year, Charlotte’s ToolBank has equipped more than 11,000 volunteers at 500 different projects, lending tools with a combined retail value of $243,000 for only $7,200. It now provides 134 nonprofit agencies with tools.

The Charlotte location is just one of several ToolBanks nationwide. The original, Atlanta Community ToolBank, celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Baltimore’s ToolBank opened at the end of May, and another is scheduled to open in Cincinnati later this summer. Local nonprofits can rent tools for just three percent of the cost of the tool, multiplied by the number of weeks it’s needed. A shovel that normally costs $30 to buy? A paltry $1.80 cents to rent it for two weeks from the ToolBank.

The rentals fees are just “enough to get people to bring the tools back,” says Patty Russart, who has served as executive director of Atlanta’s ToolBank for nearly four years.

But the ToolBank means more than the convenience of having a warehouse brimming with inexpensive power tools. According to Angela Munson, the executive director in Charlotte, ToolBanks do two significant things: increase nonprofits’ capacity to serve by allowing them to spend less money on expensive equipment while at the same time transforming volunteerism by turning fewer people who want to help away. “By having access to our tools, projects get done faster, and you can put everybody to work at the same time,” she says.

[…]

Perhaps the bigger triumph for ToolBanks is the money they save cities. In Charlotte, nonprofits that offer to do painting and landscaping work for public schools regularly head to the ToolBank to rent equipment. In Atlanta, neighborhood planning units looking to spruce up city blocks turn to the ToolBank to cut down on equipment costs. Last year, after Atlanta initiated its Love Your Block program to provide mini-grants to people who submitted community clean-up projects, the ToolBank formed a partnership with city government and the Home Depot Foundation whereby the foundation provided tools to the groups at no fee.

“The city couldn’t do that with their limited funding,” says Russart.

Not to mention the benefits for volunteers, who aren’t waiting around for their turn with the sole wheelbarrow or tiller. “Volunteers hate being asked to bring their own stuff,” Munson says. And allocating adequate resources to volunteers can be a crucial component to keeping them coming back in the future, according to the Urban Institute.

The ToolBanks’ biggest advantage, according to Rink? “You create bigger and better opportunities for companies to give back to the community,” she says. “You can’t beat it.”

Read the full article by Andrew Zaleski.


Economic Value of an Urban Forest: $80 billion

Posted in Models, Research, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on March 22nd, 2012


Photo by Mike_tn via flickr CC

From “Environmental contribution of Tennessee’s urban trees: $80 billion”  by James Holloway:

A study published by the US Forest service values the State of Tennessee’s urban forest at $80 billion thanks to its contributions to the environment. With an urban population of 284 million, that equates to a mean value of $282 per tree.

The total is based on a number of costs that are to some extent offset by the presence of Tennessee’s urban forest (its urban tree population, in other words). These include $350 million-worth of carbon storage based on the current standing stock, over $204 million every year in pollution removal, $18.4 million per year in additional carbon sequestration, and $66 million per year in energy savings-“the most significant contribution” made by the urban forest, according to State Forester Steven G. Scott. But how are the environmental benefits of the trees evaluated?

Data was collected and analyzed using the Forest Service’s own i-Tree Eco software. Using a mobile app providing strict protocols for data collection, researchers took information from 2418 trees and saplings across 255 field plots. Variables noted include species, diameter at breast height (or DBH—taken at 1.4 meters above ground), height, crown dimensions, foliage transparency, damage, and proximity to buildings. The pool of sample data is assumed to be representative of the total population, and from there the software crunches the numbers using “peer-reviewed equations” to paint a macro-scale picture of the urban forest, based on quantifiable characteristics that describe its structure, condition and function.

>>Read the full article by James Holloway on Ars Technica.
>>Read the US Forest Service study.


Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit (SUDU)

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on February 8th, 2012

From “The Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit (SUDU)” on No Tech Magazine:

The ‘Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit’ (SUDU) in Ethiopia demonstrates that it is possible to construct multi-storey buildings using only soil and stone. By combining timbrel vaults and compressed earth blocks, there is no need for steel, reinforced concrete or even wood to support floors, ceilings and roofs. The SUDU could be a game-changer for African cities, where population grows fast and building materials are scarce.

In “Tiles as a substitute for steel“, we highlighted the medieval art of the medieval timbrel vault, which allowed for structures that today no architect would dare to build without steel reinforcements. The technique is cheap, fast, ecological and durable. Shortly after the article was published in 2008, the timbrel vault made a comeback with two rather spectacular buildings: Richard Hawkes’ Crossway Passive House in England, and Peter Rich’s Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa.

The cardboard formwork technique described last week promises to bring even more dramatic architecture, but at least as interesting is the news that the catalan vault is now also applied to a much more modest form of housing: the Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit (SUDU), a low-cost family dwelling built in Ethiopia.

Though less spectacular at first sight, it could form the proof that even megacities can be constructed without the use of steel, concrete or wood.

The double-story building, which was completed in last summer, is entirely made from soil and presents an economical and ecological solution to many of Africa’s most urgent problems. The SUDU stands in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a country with a population of more than 80 million (growing at an average 7 percent per year). The building is a joint project of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC).

The SUDU combines past technologies from different continents, resulting in a new approach to low-tech construction adapted to specific local conditions. In the Mediterranean region, where the timbrel vault originated, the tiles have traditionally been made from fired clay. In the SUDU, the construction technique is united with the African tradition of cement-stabilized, soil-pressed bricks, which use locally available soil. This technique is called compressed earth block (CEB) construction. The SUDU has been built largely following the same techniques used for the Mapungubwe Centre in South Africa.

Read the full article to find out more about resource pressures and engineering details.


Victorian Food Supply Scenarios: Impacts on Availability of a Nutritious Diet

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 6th, 2011

The report of the Victorian Food Supply Scenarios: Impacts on Availability of a Nutritious Diet project has been released. This VEIL-led research project was funded by VicHealth and undertaken in partnership with the CSIRO, Deakin University and the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development.

The purpose of this project was to develop and demonstrate a new methodology to link land and resource use with availability of a nutritionally adequate food supply for Victoria’s population.

To do so, it has built the capability of the CSIRO stocks and flows model as a platform for on-going ‘what-if’ investigation of Victorian and Australian food supply security.

The full report and a summary version are available for download on the VEIL website. www.ecoinnovationlab.com