Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Cities’

Sustainable Urban Transformation: A global overview of real-world initatives

Posted in Research, Sustainable Cities by Kes McCormick on June 12th, 2013

JournalofcleanerProduction

The Special Volume of the Journal of Cleaner Production on Advancing Sustainable Urban Transformation provides a global overview of activities and ambitions on urban sustainability.  It is based on contributions of over 50 authors who have produced 20 articles based on 35 cases and 130 surveyed examples of urban initiatives on sustainability in many countries around the world.

Despite increased awareness of the urgency to respond to climate change and to promote sustainable development, there are few powerful initiatives that are decisively shifting urban development in a sustainable, resilient and low-carbon direction.

This Special Volume of the Journal of Cleaner Production explores sustainable urban transformation focusing on structural transformation processes – multi-dimensional and radical change – that can effectively direct urban development towards ambitious sustainability goals.

The 20 articles are based on 35 cases and over 130 surveyed examples of urban initiatives on sustainability in many countries. While cities in Europe dominate, there are also examples from North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

The combined articles in this Special Volume contribute to knowledge and understanding on sustainable urban transformation across a range of areas, including governance and planning, innovation and competitiveness, lifestyle and consumption, resource management and climate mitigation and adaptation, transport and accessibility, buildings, and the spatial environment and public space.

Overall, this Special Volume documents and analyses real-life action in cities and communities around the world to respond to sustainability challenges and it provides critical insights into how to catalyse, intensify and accelerate sustainable urban transformation globally.

A main finding of the articles is that governance and planning are the key leverage points for transformative change.

>> Click here to see the lead article for the Special Volume

>> Click here to see the entire Special Volume


Made for Walking (and other essential ingredients for a successful urban neighbourhood)

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 16th, 2013

From Made For Walking_Julia Campoli
Image from Made for Walking

From Not All Density Is Created Equal by Kaid Benfield:

“I just finished a very good – no, make that fantastic – book by Julie Campoli called Made for Walking, published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.  … Made for Walking isn’t so much about urban density as about the other things that we need in city neighborhoods – in addition to a level of density – to make city living attractive and sustainable. …

The heart of the book – comprising nearly a hundred pages – is a systematic review of twelve walkable neighborhoods in Denver, Columbus, Vancouver, Miami Beach, Toronto, Alexandria (Virginia), Albuquerque, Portland, Brooklyn, San Diego, Cambridge (Massachusetts), and Pasadena. …

For each, Campoli provides a context map, site maps illustrating neighborhood form and intersection density – the most statistically significant measure of how walkable a neighborhood is – multiple photos of the streetscape and neighborhood assets, measurements of neighborhood size, density and driving rates, and a discussion of what is going on in the neighborhood that adds to or limits its function for walking and sustainability. She likes them all, as do I.

For example, discussing Portland’s Pearl District, Campoli points out that the city has a goal of evolving a demographically mixed neighborhood, including families with children. This requires, she notes, investment in larger-unit, family-friendly homes; access to public amenities such as schools and nature; proximity to cultural resources such as libraries; and buffering from land uses that might be harmful to children. People in my environmental-group and smart-growth circles talk about this kind of thing, well, never. And yet it’s critical to a sustainable future, which is why I know about 50 people who need to read this book.”

Read the full article – there’s much more including sketches and photos – by Kaid Benfield on the Atlantic Cities site.


Innovative Urbanism: Crowdsourcing change

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on February 8th, 2013

Source: Mesh Cities.


Image from I Make Rotterdam.

From the article “Crowd funding city innovation” by Mesh Cities.

[…] We all know or suspect that riding a populist, demographically-driven wave is the essence of electability. This era’s politicians (generally) know it’s best not to think too big in terms of urban-improving expenditures. Time is better spent learning how to deftly kick the can of crumbling infrastructure down the road—increasingly potholed though that road may be. “Let my successor manage the impending crisis,” their inner voices might be heard to say, “I’ll lose the next election if I raise taxes to fix x,y, or z let alone build something new.” This attitude is closely related to the one that causes well-established, successful companies like Nortel to go from world leaders to market flameouts almost overnight. Why improve something that the investors think to be a world beater? Behind the scenes, however, key players are running for the exits with whatever spoils they can carry before the whole operation collapses due to inattention. There is an alternative to the destructiveness of this self serving, near-term thinking about our cities: Crowd funded urban innovation. It is not a fantasy. Some cities are already doing it.

Why is crowd funded urbanism different than what we’ve seen in the past? In a way, it isn’t. It is fundamentally old school thinking brought into the digital age. In the farming communities of our parent’s parents, when people saw something that needed doing they pitched in to get it done. That’s the way crowd funded urbanism works. See it. Fix it. New communications tools are shrinking our complex world to the point where direct action is possible even where political action is an oxymoron. Even better, in a connected world we can assemble best-practice solutions in one easily accessible place for everyone’s use. Talk about efficiency.

Take a look at I Make Rotterdam for one example of a crowd funded pedestrian bridge that is a prototype for this nascent, city-changing movement. The public in that city cared enough to invest real money in the project after being inspired by New York’s High Line Park (good ideas are contagious). What’s more interesting is that their commitment spurred local government to get behind the project as well. […] That’s the power of this idea. It is not about finding new ways of taxing people. What it is about is unequivocally showing where people want their communities improved so governments can act. Another example is the U.K.’s Space Hive. Broader in scope than I Make Rotterdam, Space Hive offers opportunities to tackle the needs of communities across the U.K.

Are these projects reinventing the way representative taxation will work a generation from now; or, are they just another example of online art projects that capture our collective imagination? We will find out, but our guess is that the future of cities demands better forms of community representation. These just may be the early models that will evolve to greatness.

>>> You can read the full article on Mesh Cities.
>>> Check out I Make Rotterdam, SeeClickFix, and Space Hive for some great examples of crowdfunded urbanism in action.


Eco-Acupuncture: Urban Interventions in Florence

Posted in Events, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on September 14th, 2012


Photo by Chris Ryan, VEIL

Our VEIL colleagues are in Florence, Italy, this month for a collaborative travelling architecture studio!  On September 17, there will be a one-day seminar:

Let’s imagine Florence in 2035: it has become a global model for a low consumption, high prosperity and high quality life based on renewable resources – it is a city of ideas for the future.

Where does this journey start?

An international group of students and design professors will develop a vision for a sustainable Florence in 2035 and propose ideas for small scale interventions that can be done today that will move us closer to that future vision.

A collaborative project with New York University Florence, the University of Melbourne, the University of Delft, the University of Florence and the City of Florence.

Download the program flyer for details of the day and to RSVP.


“City Semester”: Learning about climate change and sustainability in the city

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 25th, 2012

Source: The Atlantic Cities

From “The High School Curriculum Every Urban Planner Wishes They’d Had” by Nate Berg:

[…]

City Semester is an immersive, city-focused course that combines classwork and field studies for juniors at Fieldston. It’s like other semester away programs run by the school, but instead of sending kids out to the Rocky Mountains or the Maine coast, students in the City Semester program turn their attention to their own neighborhood and city. Meyers has compiled a broad range of teachers from the school to participate, including teachers focusing on history, ethics, language, theater, literature, film, photography and music.

The program is divided into four main sections: sustainability, immigration and difference, power and conflict, and neighborhood and community renewal. This last section is centered around the Bronx River, located a couple miles from the school.

“We wanted to talk about neighborhood formation, and chronologically to talk about the recovery of the Bronx,” Meyers says. “We use the Bronx River as a means of discussing both human and non-human communities.”

One of the main parts of this section of the program consists of a two-day canoe trip down the river. The students collect scientific data about the water and the ecology and make presentations about both the history of the neighborhoods and the development of the river habitats. Meyers says this approach pulls in what the students are learning and relates it to things they see in their day-to-day experiences and the neighborhoods around them.

“Adolescents are at a place in their lives where understanding the relevance of what they’re learning can make an enormous difference in terms of their engagement,” Meyers says.

The program looks broadly at the city as a subject, even looking into the policies and politics that are driving change in New York. Meyers took the class to meet with officials from the city’s Department of Transportation to hear about the planning and implementation of bike lanes throughout the city. Then they rented bikes and rode the lanes. Meyers says this hands-on approach helps students to see the various ways what they’re learning can be applied in real-life situations.

And if delving into city politics isn’t enough to add a little more stress to high schoolers’ lives, one of the sections of the course had students role-playing and problem-solving their way through some not-too-far-off disaster scenarios brought on as a result of climate change. Rising sea levels create a flood in lower Manhattan that causes a blackout, in this scenario. During the power outage, a rumored hostage situation at the United Nations causes the whole subway system to shut down. Students had to imagine they were stuck in their school for 3 days – and to cope with all the logistical and psychological impacts such a situation would cause. They even engaged in community design charrettes to come up with feasible retrofit ideas that can help communities handle the potential threats they’ll face as the climate continues to change.

This section of the course was taught earlier this year by Alec Appelbaum, a journalist who’s covered urban planning for years. He says that high schoolers are maybe the ideal audience for this sort of lesson.

“They’re going to be living with the consequences of the misdirected debate that’s gone on about climate change,” says Appelbaum. “The carbon overload in the atmosphere is something that young people didn’t particularly cause and will have to survive.”

[…]

Read the full article by Nate Berg.


The 2012 TED Prize is awarded to….the City 2.0.

Posted in seeking, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on December 7th, 2011


TED is pleased to announce the winner of the 2012 TED Prize. For the first time in the history of the prize, it is being awarded not to an individual, but to an idea. It is an idea upon which our planet’s future depends.

The 2012 TED Prize is awarded to….the City 2.0.

The City 2.0 is the city of the future… a future in which more than ten billion people on planet Earth must somehow live sustainably. The City 2.0 is not a sterile utopian dream, but a real-world upgrade tapping into humanity’s collective wisdom. The City 2.0 promotes innovation, education, culture, and economic opportunity. The City 2.0 reduces the carbon footprint of its occupants, facilitates smaller families, and eases the environmental pressure on the world’s rural areas. The City 2.0 is a place of beauty, wonder, excitement, inclusion, diversity, life. The City 2.0 is the city that works.

The TED Prize grants its winner $100,000 and “one wish to change the world.” How will this prize be accepted on behalf of the City 2.0? Through visionary individuals around the world who are advocating on its behalf. We are listening to them and giving them the opportunity to collectively craft a wish. A wish capable of igniting a massive collaborative project among the members of the global TED community, and indeed all who care about our planet’s future.

Individuals or organizations who wish to contribute their ideas to a TED Prize wish on behalf of The City 2.0 should write to tedprize@ted.com

The wish will be unveiled on February 29, 2012 at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. On a Leap Year date, we have a chance, collectively, to take a giant leap forward.

http://www.tedprize.org/announcing-the-2012-ted-prize-winner/


Cities With People In Mind: ICTC Conference

Posted in Events, Movements by Rob Henshaw on August 8th, 2011

The International Cities, Town Centres & Communities Society Inc (ICTC), is an independent, not for profit association based in Queensland whose main aim is to assist cities, towns and communities to be as environmentally, socially & economically sustainable as possible.  Since incorporating in 2002, the Society has conducted annual conferences attracting 300-450 delegates in cities and towns from as far north as Yeppoon in Queensland to Fremantle in Western Australia.

The 2011 conference, “Cities with People in Mind“, is hosted by Hobart City Council and is being held in Hobart from 25-28 October and includes dedicated sessions on the following:-

  • “Sustainable Cities & Towns”
  • “Carbon Neutral Cities”
  • “Green Building & Healthy Cities”
  • “Transport & Urban Communities”
  • “Housing Affordability”
  • “Infrastructure Planning & Development”
  • “Community Building & Consultation”
  • “Managing Growth”
  • “Regional Strategic Planning”
  • “Place Making & Place Management”
  • “Business Improvement Districts” as well as others.
25-28 October 2011

Hotel Grand Chancellor
Constitution Dock
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


For more information visit www.ictcsociety.org


50 Ideas For The New City: Poster Campaign

Posted in Tools, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on June 20th, 2011

50 Ideas For The New City, from Urban Omnibus

With this poster campaign, we want to turn the language of ubiquitous marketing — in which every bus, taxi or construction barrier is a canvas for advertising anything and everything — on its head by using a similar language to share examples of creativity and innovation in the urban realm. We want to spread these ideas to the whole city. And we want to hear your new ideas too. So starting next week, (now live!) at UrbanOmnibus.net/Ideas you will find 50 ideas for New York already explored on Urban Omnibus and a space for you to share one of your own. We hope, in some small way, we can help re-enchant the urban environment as a landscape of possibility, a realm of action and intention, and a place that represents — and deserves — a long and evolving history of creative ideas.

Read more about the posters and click through each image or blurb to find the essay that led to the idea.

The poster campaign was part of New York’s Festival of Ideas for the New City.

On May 4-8th, the Festival of Ideas for the New City brought artists, designers, politicians and community organizers to downtown Manhattan, infusing the city with a commitment to creativity and dedication to place. Through a string of lectures, panels, workshops, a street fair and over a hundred art installations and openings of cultural projects, the Festival brought to mind a sensibility which first made the neighborhood a forefront for the avant-garde. For four days, a dizzying array of visionary thinkers, makers and practitioners shared ideas and projects that might help articulate what kind of city we want, as well as some concrete examples of how to get there.

Read more about the Festival in this recap by Caitlin Blanchfield.

 


Sharing Schoolyards With The Neighbours: Some Examples

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on May 27th, 2011

Via Sustainable Cities Collective


Photo: South Ozone Park community enjoys the new playground at P.S. 108Q, which opened Spring 2010.

Sharing school grounds and facilities with the surrounding community makes sense as we look at the future of sustainable cities.  It can strengthen networks (increasing resilience through getting to know your neighbours) and improve urban health (access to green parks for recreation and improved air quality)  – but how might it work?  Peter Harnik for City Parks Blog has drawn together a range of schoolyard sharing initiatives from the USA.  The article is great for getting an idea of what’s already happening, as well as pointers for starting up sharing in your neighbourhood.  Below are some extracts:

-

Schoolyards are large, flat, centrally located open spaces with a mandate to serve the recreational needs of schoolchildren. Great schoolyards–the rare ones that have healthy grass, big trees, a playground, and sports equipment–seem a lot like parks. But they aren’t. For one thing, most have fences and locks. For another, they are closed to the general public. Schoolyards are parks for only a limited constituency. But they have terrific potential to be more than that. Even less-than-great schoolyards (those that are merely expanses of asphalt with few amenities) represent sizable opportunities in key locations. To many observers, schoolyards seem the best, most obvious source of park-like land to supplement the park systems of overcrowded cities. And they are–even if upgrading them into schoolyard parks is more difficult than it might seem.

“Schoolyard park” in this context means a space reserved for schoolchildren during school hours and used by the whole community at other times. In a few cities–New York, Chicago, and Phoenix–schoolyard parks are run cooperatively by the board of education and the parks department. In others, the parks department has no formal role at all.

Most schoolyards originally had grass and trees. But without proper design, construction, and maintenance, grass can’t survive daily trampling by hundreds of little feet. And small trees can’t handle that much swinging and climbing without becoming spindly skeletons. After a few years of frustration with dust, mud, and dead trees, school principals begin to think that laying down asphalt might be a superior solution (and barely any worse ecologically). It’s also a lot easier to sweep up broken glass from asphalt than from dirt and weeds. Then, this being America, the expanse of asphalt starts to attract automobiles; in no time the former school park has a set of parallel white lines and a row of oil stains. Keeping a schoolyard green, clean, car-free, and environmentally productive can be more difficult than operating a regular neighborhood park.[…]

New York City has taken the concept the furthest. There, with the blessing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) entered into a partnership with the Department of Education, the Department of Parks and Recreation and private funders (including MetLife, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation) to convert scores of decrepit and uninviting schoolyards into showcase parks.[…]

“This program is community-run,” says Mary Alice Lee, director of TPL’s New York City Playground Program. While all properties are fenced and have locks, in some places it’s the school custodial staff that has the only key, while in others it’s held by the neighborhood sponsoring organization or a block association. A few of the parks are left permanently unlocked. Also, each community sets its own hours. Most common is a schedule of 8 a.m. to dusk seven days a week except when school is in session. In some tougher neighborhoods the community wants the park closed earlier; the most restrictive schedule is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, and closed on Sundays.

Designing the space itself is a delicate balancing act that can take up to three months. The children themselves are the lead designers, responding to a set of questions and opportunities posed by TPL, but of course there are a bevy of realities that also affect decisions, including liability, equipment breakability, horticultural survivability, cost, and life lessons from previous play-parks. The children learn how to innovate, compromise, and reach a consensus when their initial ideas turn out to be too expensive or require too much space. “Because of the kids,” says Lee, “we’ve created murals and mosaics, a hair-braiding area, a jump-rope zone, planting gardens, performance stages, outdoor classrooms, rain gardens, and bowling lanes–as well as the usual soccer fields, running tracks, basketball and tennis courts, and play equipment.” […]

Read the full article by Peter Harnik on City Parks Blog or on Sustainable Cities Collective.


Super Short Supply Chain: Supermarket Roof Garden

Posted in Models by Rob Eales on March 15th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk


© Food From The Sky

From  “The supermarket growing food on its roof” by Laura Barnett:

Of all the things you might reasonably expect to be doing on a blustery March day, standing on the roof of a supermarket and dragging a rake through a bag of decaying vegetables is probably not one of them. I am on top of Thornton’s Budgens supermarket in Crouch End, north London, which volunteers have transformed from a flat expanse of concrete into a flourishing potted garden and vegetable patch.

The project, called Food from the Sky, is an unusual exercise in the principles of permaculture and sustainable gardening, and is the brainchild of former silversmith and art consultant Azul-Valerie Thome. It opened last May, when a crane lifted 10 tonnes of compost and 300 green recycling boxes donated by Haringey Council on to the roof. Now the garden is producing enough vegetables to sell in the aisles downstairs every Friday, and has just won a community prize at the Co-operative’s annual People and Environment Achievement Awards.

On a quick tour of the garden, Thome and several volunteers show me an impressive array of vegetables – from peas and potatoes to kale and purple sprouting broccoli – alongside flowers, tiny strawberry and raspberry plants, and a composting area. Here, fruit and vegetables left unsold each day in Budgens are mulched, along with woody branches and soil, by the 20 local people who volunteer in the garden.

Volunteer Peter Budge tells me the conditions are perfect for the plants: the warmth from the supermarket’s heating and lighting systems comes up through the roof, sparing the seeds the worst of the frosts – and there are no slugs or snails, while marauding pigeons are deterred by CDs hanging from the perimeter fence. “It might seem mad that we’re growing things up here,” Budge says, “and it is. But it really works.”

[…]

Read the full article by Laura Barnett on The Guardian.