Green-roofed campus brings a sustainable social nexus to Toronto

April 1, 2021 by  
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Community building recently received a boost in Toronto’s bustling downtown core with the completion of the new $65 million Canoe Landing Campus, a social nexus that combines a community recreation center, public and Catholic elementary schools and a childcare center under a massive shared green roof. Designed by local firm  ZAS Architects , the new campus provides a much-needed social infrastructure to CityPlace, one of the city’s most populated residential developments with over 20,000 residents. In addition to its expansive green roof and surrounding landscaping, the project includes solar panels that renewably generate 10% of the building’s energy needs.  Completed last year, the roughly 158,000-square-foot Canoe Landing Campus was designed to maximize open space and seamlessly merge with the existing Canoe Landing Park. Shared community spaces and programming for all ages include sports facilities, a community kitchen, gardening plots and more. A pedestrian corridor separates the two-story community center from the three-story  schools  on the ground level, while an elevated east-west bridge connects the buildings above. The schools — which share common areas that include imaginative indoor play spaces with a climbing wall and roller coaster track — are organized with the younger students on the lower level and the older students on the upper two floors.  “The building’s design welcomes neighbours to take part in community activities allowing for a synergistic sharing of spaces between the  community centre , schools, and childcare,” said Peter Duckworth-Pilkington, Principal, ZAS Architects. “Ultimately, the way the world approaches community space is forever changed. Now, more than ever, physical space must foster meaningful human connection while also remaining flexible to support communities with evolving hybrid and virtual needs for years to come.” Related: Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass-timber college building to rise in Toronto An active roof tops the campus and features a running track, sheltered outdoor space for yoga and a full-sized basketball court. A series of passive zones and gardening plots surround the “active roof.” The project also commissioned Anishinaabe artist Que Rock and artist Alexander Bacon to create a 90-meter-long mural on the south walls of the schools to celebrate the land’s  Indigenous  culture.  + ZAS Architects Photography by Michael Muraz

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Green-roofed campus brings a sustainable social nexus to Toronto

Supporting multimodal public transit in a post-pandemic future

March 30, 2021 by  
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Supporting multimodal public transit in a post-pandemic future Shin-pei Tsay Tue, 03/30/2021 – 01:45 This article first appeared on Meeting of the Minds. Cities have been severely impacted by COVID-19 on a number of fronts, and it has laid bare the severe disparities that result from ever-dwindling budgets. The pandemic has also dramatically changed how we experience the urban environment and required us to re-envision how people navigate and interact with their locales. On a regional basis, commutes to central business districts have dropped dramatically, while surrounding town centers, however small they may be, have gained more activity. For the privileged, who have the ability to shelter-in-place and are supported by flexible work-from-home policies, trips have become more concentrated near their homes and rarely reach beyond neighborhood amenities. As a result, open-street networks have blossomed to allow more space for walking and biking, and cities have pivoted to allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining and retail areas into the public right-of-way (ROW). As a fundamental public service, public transit should be conceived as a scalable, resilient and adaptive system … A map released by Lime , a scooter-share company, showed that over the summer, trips have become more concentrated within neighborhoods, rather than sprawling across the city. Meanwhile, Apple Mobility Data showed that private driving returned to pre-COVID levels, after a brief reprieve in April 2020, while transit ridership is still well below normal. It is clear that this crisis has affected communities in different ways. While central business district commutes might have fallen during the pandemic, cross-town trips persisted, and these are more representative of essential workers’ routes. Cities have adjusted their transit systems, cutting some routes in order to ensure more resources for higher volume routes or contracting out late night or expanded service areas in order to ensure that all customers can be continuously served. These changes in transportation patterns should inform how we analyze and address old problems. A longstanding challenge has been how to meet the growing transportation demand across an entire region and during traditionally off-peak times, while also ensuring that neighborhoods, town centers and other nodes outside of the central business district can be supported with sustainable mobility options. Historically, and more than ever today, the most convenient way to travel within a region is by private car. But, as we look forward to a post-pandemic public realm, could emerging mobility technologies help? More than ever, urban transit services are in need of sustainable and affordable solutions to better serve all members of our diverse communities, not least among them those that are traditionally car-dependent. New mobility technologies can be a potential resource for local transit agencies to augment multi-modal connectivity across existing transit infrastructures. As we all witnessed in the last decade, technological innovation (such as transportation network companies and micro-mobility) has triggered a profound transformation of the urban mobility ecosystem, enabling new shared, on-demand and multi-modal transportation options. By being open to new technologies in the realms of both operations and vehicles, transit agencies can establish a more resilient and sustainable urban mobility ecosystem and even remove some friction in payment and trip-planning. We envision a new decentralized and distributed model that provides multi-modal access through nimble and flexible multi-modal Transit Districts, rather than through traditional, centralized and often too expensive Multi-modal Transit Hubs. Working in collaboration with existing agencies, new micro-mobility technologies could provide greater and seamless access to existing transit infrastructure, while maximizing the potential of the public realm, creating an experience that many could enjoy beyond just catching the next bus or finding a scooter. So how would we go about it? Step 1: Identify an area of the city with the highest concentration of transit services (local bus stops, light rail, etc.). For many communities, multi-modal transit services, when provided, come in the form of uncoordinated schedules, infrequent service, and physically disjointed and often unsafe stops located across multiple city blocks. While such areas are served by a certain level of multi-modal transit, the physical conditions in these public realms make the user experience unappealing for most, which results in low transit ridership, a deserted public realm and an increase car traffic (along with attendant pollution). Step 2: Define the most convenient path to access each transit mode available within walking or biking distance. What are the most trafficked and convenient routes to get from one mode to another for a local transit rider? Can we determine an area within walking or biking distance that includes the most comprehensive range of local transit options available? And are there specific landmarks, destinations and ground floor activities that could enhance these commutes? Step 3: Provide the glue. Provide micro-mobility services and enhanced public realm solutions that enable easier, more convenient and more desirable access to local transit. Imagine an open-air concourse: an area of the city geared to best serve pedestrians and transit commuters alike, where wider sidewalks clearly and intuitively lead you from one transit mode to another; where shared bicycle and e-scooter services are readily accessible near each local transit stop and have safe and dedicated lanes. This would be an area of the city with existing landmark destinations, active ground floors and tailored wayfinding strategies are all coordinated to support a convenient and attractive mode transfer; where each single strategy that best serves the commuter also has positive outcomes for local residents and businesses by way of providing a more vibrant, pedestrian-oriented and safe public realm. The measures listed above range from low-cost, temporary solutions to permanent, long-term investments, and this range is key to a step-by-step implementation approach that should benefit communities with limited financial resources. To start, temporary parklets, paired with shared bike and e-scooter docking stations, could be next to key local transit stops, serving commuters and providing opportunities to engage with existing ground-floor businesses. An easily identifiable network of paths comprised of easy to deploy low-tech way-finding solutions and dedicated micro-mobility lanes could allow commuters to intuitively find their way to the next stop. Tactical urbanism strategies, many of which we have seen deployed in cities as a response to the current health crisis, have demonstrated how big changes can happen with small budgets when there is the will and the support of local communities. In the long term, access to efficient multi-modal services and the resulting vibrant public realm could represent a catalyst for new urban development infill to support long term capital investments.   As the network expands beyond the central district, there are opportunities to meet demand more easily, particularly through the use of on-demand, shared transportation that is integrated with fixed route transit. Beyond the initial identification of one area that has a concentration of transit and micro-mobility, there may be several nodes throughout a region that have been reinvigorated post-COVID, and thus could benefit from the distributed transit network model as well. This coincides with shifts away from traditional “hub-and-spoke” transit models and towards an approach that allows greater lateral movement outside the city center. Imagine regions that are no longer concentrated around a single anchor of the central business district, but that have multiple anchor districts that connect to one another. And within those nodes, many points of connection could allow people to move around freely along an enhanced public realm. Crises expose and deepen underlying societal inequity. Urban residents are more than ever relying on the public realm to access jobs and services, conduct a healthy lifestyle and nurture social relations. The current crisis is causing us to reconsider both the nature of transit and the role of the public realm. As a fundamental public service, public transit should be conceived as a scalable, resilient and adaptive system that helps communities where they are, from large cities to small towns; a system that relies on affordable and easy to deploy solutions that is at the foundation of more equitable and thriving urban communities. Pull Quote As a fundamental public service, public transit should be conceived as a scalable, resilient and adaptive system … Contributors Luca Giaramidaro Gerry Tierney Topics Transportation & Mobility Cities Infrastructure COVID-19 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Using urban forestry to fight for environmental justice

March 30, 2021 by  
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Using urban forestry to fight for environmental justice Breanna Draxler Tue, 03/30/2021 – 00:05 The term “urban forest” may sound like an oxymoron. When most of us think about forests, we may picture vast expanses of tall trunks and dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves, far from the busyness of the city. But the trees that line city streets and surround apartment complexes across the U.S. hold great value, in part because of their proximity to people. “Per tree, you’re getting way more value for an urban tree than a tree out in the wild,” said Mark McPherson, founder and director of a Seattle nonprofit called City Forest Credits. In an increasingly urbanizing world, cities are, after all, “right where people live and breathe and recreate.” Trees — and urban trees in particular — provide enormous benefits. For starters, they’re responsible for producing oxygen and removing CO2 and other pollutants from the air. Urban forests in the U.S. remove an estimated 75,000 tons of air pollution per year . They reduce the impact of falling rain and encourage that water to soak into the ground, reducing flooding and erosion as well as preventing pollution from entering waterways . And the shade they provide isn’t just good for picnics; trees absorb heat and release water vapor that cools the surrounding air. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that trees reduce the energy consumption needed to cool homes in the U.S. by more than 7 percent. To find out just how much one tree can do, you can even estimate the value of the benefits of a specific tree near you using a calculator developed by a collaboration of tree experts and nonprofits. The trouble is that these benefits are not equitably distributed. “Nationally, there’s a trend for trees to follow wealth,” said Leslie Berckes, director of programs for Trees Forever, a nonprofit environmental group that works with communities across Iowa and Illinois to plant and care for trees. She said wealthier communities tend to have more trees for a variety of reasons, including racist housing practices. “Redlining left a lot of scars on communities, one of those being less green space, less tree cover,” Berckes said. And the results are life-threatening. In the absence of trees, these urban areas tend to be concrete — either buildings or sidewalks or streets. These impervious surfaces absorb heat during the day and then release it at night, preventing the relief of cooling temperatures and creating urban heat islands . “People are getting sick or dying from heat,” Berckes said, “and their utility bills are going up. … Heat is the biggest killer from [a] natural disaster perspective.” Building community by planting trees To better support the health of these communities, Berckes’ organization employs local teenagers to plant and care for trees. Trees Forever pays a starting rate of $10 an hour — higher than the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 — and then bumps it up to $15 an hour for crew leaders. In addition, Trees Forever provides teens with professional development resources such as resume-building, mock interviews, financial literacy courses, stress management tools and shadowing professionals in green jobs. Although COVID-19 has paused some of these activities, the organization sees this multifaceted support as an investment in a local workforce that will then have the knowledge and skills to continue the important work of tree-planting for building healthier communities. Dawud Benedict, 18, has been planting trees with Trees Forever since the fall. He applied after hearing about a friend’s positive experience working with the organization. “It just sounded nice to do something more for Des Moines area,” he said. The work has taught him to appreciate trees and their benefits to the community and the world, he says, as well as to work together as a group. He enjoys being able to drive past work sites and point out trees that he helped plant in his community. “I feel like I’m making a bigger impact,” he said. In recent years, Trees Forever has endeavored to put equity at the center of their work through training and education, although Berckes admits that a lot more work must be done. “Our own staff is all white,” she said. “Iowa is a predominantly white state. When we go to work with some of these small towns, I bet the percentage of white people is 80 to 90-or-more percent.” Much of the group’s outreach historically has focused on door-knocking and connecting with groups such as neighborhood associations, churches and local businesses. But Trees Forever’s traditional methods weren’t reaching Hispanic residents who moved to these communities to work in the meatpacking industry. So to make access to the benefits of urban trees more equitable, the organization is working to overcome language barriers and meet these community members where they are. West Des Moines is home to three Microsoft data centers and two more are slated for construction starting in 2021. In the corporation’s efforts to invest in communities that house its data centers, it funded Trees Forever’s work in 2019. And in 2020, the collaborative piloted a project that promises to put equity first. The project, the Impact Scorecard, is being rolled out in West Des Moines as well as Phoenix. The creator of the scorecard, Mark McPherson, said Microsoft was looking for high-impact projects and his organization, City Forest Credits, developed a way to measure the impacts of trees on equity, human health and the environment. Nationally, there’s a trend for trees to follow wealth. Redlining left a lot of scars on communities, one of those being less green space. “As a society, we have not found a way to put natural capital on the balance sheet as an asset,” he said. “There’s no asset value to the trees; only an expense item.” As such, trees necessarily fall to the bottom of many city’s budgets, or off of them altogether. “Urban trees don’t just store carbon, they reduce stormwater, they improve air, they provide energy savings in terms of heating and cooling. They can, if done right, tremendously advance environmental justice — they provide human health benefits, biodiversity, bird and pollinator habitat, slope stability and the list goes on. They are like utilities,” McPherson said. “They provide incredible services.” Those services are immensely valuable to cities. They reduce the costs of doing all kinds of other work, including stormwater management, air purification and water retention. Sure, some carbon markets put a dollar value on capturing CO2. But the problem, McPherson found, was that carbon markets couldn’t capture any values of urban forests specifically. Carbon credits typically are sold by the ton for huge acreages of forest. In the city, an individual tree won’t store enough carbon to make a blip on these particular charts, but it has incredible value for countless lives. So he teamed up with his older brother, Greg McPherson, a scientist emeritus with the U.S. Forest Service who founded the Center for Urban Forest Research. In the ’90s, he moved to Chicago to figure out how to quantify the value of the services that trees provide to the city and he continues to refine benefit-cost analyses for trees. The Impact Scorecard is the latest outcome of this work. It aims to get corporations and other private funders to underwrite the costs of doing important community-led work through the planting of urban forests. “That’s a critical part of environmental justice,” explains Mark McPherson, who, as a white man, said he works hard to avoid the tropes of white saviorism. “Not just, you beam in from your NGO office and plant trees,” but rather “to actually have these projects led by the local community.” Letting communities lead That’s what drives the work of Lydia Scott, director of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative. This partnership brings together 14 organizations — from the Morton Arboretum to the U.S. Forest Service, the Chicago Parks Department to the Chicago Department of Public Health — to leverage resources and expertise in support of the urban forest in and around Chicago. She said trees can help reduce crime, improve property values and reduce temperatures. To let communities lead, though, members of the initiative had to be willing to listen. Some neighborhoods, for example, didn’t want trees or actively removed them to prevent obstructing street lights because of safety concerns. Police departments, too, sometimes cite a need for open lines of sight on sidewalks and in parks. “This was an eye-opener for us,” Scott said. It all comes down to having the right tree in the right place. That’s why her organization works within communities to show the value of trees and evidence of the ways trees can support a different dynamic. But unlike a forest on public lands or a reservation, urban forests can’t be managed as a whole. Urban areas are a mix of public and private lands, so to plant trees requires the buy-in of a greater number of stakeholders. “We know trees have a dramatic impact on quality of life,” Scott said. They are critical infrastructure in communities and should be protected and budgeted as such, she said, but they are rarely recognized for the value and services they provide. All too often she hears that “trees are a luxury we handle after everything else.” With COVID-19, being outside is more important than ever and people are seeing and appreciating trees in a whole new way. But in some ways the work is made harder, Scott said. City budgets are tight and meeting basic needs such as housing and safety is necessarily taking priority. Measuring impact Here’s where the scorecard comes in. It matches communities who want to invest in their tree cover with private funders, such as corporations who want to make investments that have a measurable impact. That impact is broken down into three categories that emphasize the value of urban trees specifically: equity; human health; and environmental benefits. McPherson said that urban forests are unique because they connect global atmospheric benefits with ecosystem benefits and resilience and mitigation benefits. “Very seldom do you get a climate action that fits all of those,” he said. To look at the benefits of trees at scale, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative developed a map that breaks it down by neighborhood , indicating the percentage of land covered by impervious surfaces, the percentage of tree cover and the financial benefit those trees provide the community. It also includes location-specific information on air quality, heat, flooding and vulnerable populations. Screenshot from the Chicago Region Trees  interactive map page . Take, for example, the La Grange Park area of south Chicago. It has 47 percent tree cover and 30 percent impervious surfaces. The calculator estimates the community gains more than $750,000 a year from these trees. In contrast, Bedford Park, just to the south, has only 7 percent tree cover and 59 percent impervious surfaces. Their benefit from these trees is $300,000. But the calculator also estimates that the community could reasonably boost that tree canopy to as much as 65 percent of the neighborhood’s land area — a ninefold increase — which would also up their benefits. Scott said the priority communities don’t always track exactly on racial or socioeconomic lines. In fact, the two neighborhoods with the fewest trees, according to their assessment, were actually quite well-off financially, so the initiative decided to focus its efforts elsewhere. These communities have the resources available to make change but choose not to. Instead, the initiative is prioritizing projects that put health and equity at the center. An assessment of educational facilities, for example, identified a list of 24 schools and 24 day cares in Chicago within 500 feet of an expressway. The initiative is doing air-quality testing and planting vegetative buffers as a means of improving air quality at each facility. (A 2013 study found that adding a row of trees between a roadway and nearby houses reduced pollution levels in the houses by 50 percent.) By using the Impact Scorecard, funders have third party verification of the health, equity and environmental benefits of the project. “The trees in our neighborhoods tell a story about our society — one of equity,” McPherson said. The story we’re trying to craft, he said, is one in which living in a city is healthy, equitable and connected with nature. Pull Quote Nationally, there’s a trend for trees to follow wealth. Redlining left a lot of scars on communities, one of those being less green space. Topics Social Justice Environmental Justice Tree Planting Yes! Magazine Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Urban forests can be an indicator of equality in cities.  Getty Images Jose Luis Pelaez Close Authorship

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Using urban forestry to fight for environmental justice

Students design skateboard wheels made from chewing gum

March 26, 2021 by  
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Chewing gum: it’s a type of plastic pollution that we’re just not talking about enough. Most modern chewing gums are made from synthetic plastic polymers that don’t break down or biodegrade. That means when you toss your used chewing gum on the sidewalk or stick it underneath a bench, you’re littering. Not only that, but chewing gum is commonly mistaken for food by wild animals (especially birds), causing them to choke or die. Two design students from the L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique in France are imagining ways to combat this silent pollution problem creatively. Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer have created a concept that turns used chewing gum into skateboard wheels. Related: Sam Kaplan unwrapped 500 sticks of gum to create futuristic geometric structures They got the idea while brainstorming for a designed-focused way to tackle the gum pollution issue in urban areas. “We thought, why not take this characteristic waste of the city and use it to make it greener,” Maupetit and Fischer told Inhabitat. “The bold colors and texture of chewing gum is the perfect fit for use in skatewheels.” The idea is to bring the gum from the streets back to the streets in a sustainable way. The students envisioned a fictional partnership between Mentos, one of Europe’s biggest chewing gum producers, and Vans Europe, a popular manufacturer of skateboarding shoes and accessories. The students’ project proposes a line of vibrant skateboard wheels sold by Vans that uses old gum collected from the streets. How would they go about collecting the gum? According to the students, Mentos would install “gum boards” in urban areas to help spread the word and inspire passersby to stick their used gum to the signs instead of tossing it elsewhere. The gum would then be cleaned, molded with a stabilizing agent and stained with natural dye to form the base of the wheels. “Our initiative is supposed to clean the streets in a sustainable way. That is why we invented a system that will transform used wheels and turn them into new ones,” the students explained. “No more waste is created and the material stays in use.” + L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique Images via Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer

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LA’s Magic Johnson Park now features a stormwater recycling system

March 24, 2021 by  
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Named for former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson in 1994 and known as the largest park in South Los Angeles , the 126-acre Magic Johnson Park has recently undergone a sustainable renovation. Some of the updates include a stormwater capture and recycling system as well as a new landscaping design focused on the native plants of California. The project is led by a partnership between landscape architecture company AHBE and Berkeley-based multidisciplinary firm Moore Iacofano Goltsman (MIG). “The inspiration behind this project has been to transform a widely-used community-based park into something much more: an interactive and dynamic center of learning, nature and engagement that is powered through environmentally sustainable design,” said Gary Lai, Principal and Director of Regenerative Design for AHBE | MIG. “We believe that the enhancements for Phase 1-A of the Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Park ensure its standing as a world-class urban park for the community while also serving as a model for sustainability and conservation for the County of Los Angeles.” Related: This city park in Amsterdam could help purify local water At the forefront of the project is an innovative stormwater recycling system that captures and diverts rainwater runoff. The freshwater is then treated with natural biofiltration through the wetlands inside the park. The park’s two lakes, which also feature a half-mile-long walking trail with picnic areas, act as storage for the water until it can be used for irrigation. The wetlands also benefit urban wildlife by creating a habitat for local birds and insects. New landscaping highlights native flora and includes a coastal sage scrub and freshwater marsh wetlands. The park will also offer a new, 20,000-square-foot community event center, which is not yet open to the public. Additional features include indoor and outdoor social spaces and a children’s play area with a splash pad. A series of scenic viewpoints are complemented with outdoor “classrooms” and educational graphics to help visitors understand the park’s natural environment. + AHBE | MIG Images via AHBE | MIG

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Texas lawsuit fights environmental racism in highway expansion project

March 24, 2021 by  
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Starting in the years after World War II, Black neighborhoods around the U.S. were destroyed and replaced with highways in the name of urban renewal. But people in Harris County, Texas have had enough. The county is suing the state to stop an I-45 expansion that would displace more than 1,000 households and would mostly affect people of color and low-income residents. The plan is to elevate segments of the highway in North Houston and add several lanes. In addition to the 1,079 households affected, the highway widening would displace 341 businesses, two schools and five churches. Flooding, traffic and higher levels of air pollution pose additional concerns. Related: A Chinese highway becomes a vibrant, community-centered ‘livable street’ The Biden administration and the Federal Highway Administration have voiced their opinions supporting residents’ civil rights. “This is an opportunity for this new administration to really back up what it’s been saying regarding highway projects that perpetuate environmental racism ,” said Bakeyah Nelson of Air Alliance Houston, as reported by The Guardian . Nelson thinks it’s a mistake to build homes this close to highways in the first place. “These affordable housing units are in locations where they’re already being exposed to greater environmental hazards than if they were farther away from the highway,” she said. The state has stood by the $7 billion expansion plan, saying it needs to update the freeway and increase its capacity. But not all studies back the thesis that more lanes lead to less congestion. An analysis of an earlier highway widening project in Houston concluded that it wound up increasing the average commute time for about 85% of motorists using the highway (and that highway spanned a whopping 26 lanes at its widest point). “For a generation we’ve gone on building more lanes, putting down more concrete, thinking that somehow magically that’s going to reduce traffic,” said Lina Hidalgo, Harris County judge, in a March 11 press conference. “We cannot continue to support transportation policy that prioritizes cars over people.” Via The Guardian and Catalyst Image via Patrick Feller

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Petaluma becomes first US city to ban construction of new gas stations

March 9, 2021 by  
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Petaluma, California has passed a law restricting the construction of new gasoline stations. Located 40 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area, the small city is home to around 60,000 people and has 16 gas stations. In recent legislation, the city council has banned any further gas stations from being built here. “Prohibiting new gas stations serves the public interest by preventing new sources of pollution that adversely impact environmental and human health ,” the law states. Related: Chevron spills 600 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay The law solidifies a ban that had been temporarily implemented in 2019. Following the enactment of the law, Petaluma has been receiving attention both nationally and internationally. The law now makes the city the first in the U.S. to prohibit the construction of new gas stations. “We didn’t know we would be the first, and I keep saying that we didn’t do this to be the first,” said Mayor Teresa Barret. “We’re taking one step at a time here because that’s how change is made. To me, it’s really important we’re not just ticking off boxes. If we want to be carbon neutral by 2030, we have to make these changes.” A recent study carried out by the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority places the transport sector at the center of air pollution . According to the study, 60% of greenhouse gas emissions in the region are caused by vehicles. Although the news has been well-received by many, those in the fuel industry are opposed to the move. The California Fuels & Convenience Alliance said, “Various localities throughout the state have started down a misguided direction, banning new gas stations within city and county limits, through ordinance or moratorium. This single-minded approach will ultimately cause greater harm for communities than any potential benefit.” Even with such opposition, the city council maintains its stand. If the world is to successfully fight against pollution, and ultimately climate change , it is necessary for officials to start taking such actions. Via CleanTechnica Image via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library

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New apartments bring sustainable architecture to the Upper West Side

March 2, 2021 by  
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New York’s Upper West Side has long been a coveted area of the city, but few new developments have risen on the horizon in recent decades. However, 470 Columbus and West 83rd Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is about to get some new, Passive House-certified apartments that will put sustainability front and center on the block. Designed by award-winning BKSK Architects, Charlotte of the Upper West Side, as the complex is named, will house seven apartments, each with four bedrooms with en suite baths and a separate primary bedroom wing. The full-floor residences incorporate craftsmanship with innovative technology for upscale living with a low environmental impact. Related: MIA Architecture’s office blends into the landscape with a mirrored facade In maintaining the look of traditional Upper West Side architecture, the building’s façade features surfaces of red brick and Italian-made terracotta louvers that filter and make optimal use of natural lighting. Airtight seals around windows and doors keep the spaces comfortable and quiet, buffered from the thrumming city. Triple-paned windows and comprehensive insulation on exterior walls and between residences add to the comfort. In addition to buffering the noise, these practices reduce energy consumption . The builders aimed to exceed the highest standards of a German sustainability rating called the Passive House Standard , which focuses on dramatically reducing a home’s energy consumption for heating and cooling while providing exceptional air quality. Targeting clean air in a city of millions, Charlotte of the Upper West Side features Swiss-engineered energy recovery ventilation systems that deliver freshly filtered outside air to each apartment and the building lobby. “Charlotte of the Upper West Side sets an extraordinary new benchmark for sustainable architecture with an emphasis on wellness and luxury in New York City,” said John Roe, principal of Roe Corporation, the real estate company that is selling the units. “Our vision was to create an intelligently-engineered residential building, with integrated state-of-the-art systems designed to foster an exceptionally healthy and comfortable living environment.” Selections inside the basic floor plans and the duplex penthouse include handcrafted cabinetry made from FSC-certified white oak by Seattle’s Henrybuilt. Countertops, backsplashes and bathroom surfaces are created from hand-selected, full-slab Olympian White Danby marble. Appliances are chosen with energy savings in mind, too. In addition to the individual living spaces, the building features public areas aimed at healthy living for all members of the family. This includes multiple garden terraces , a fitness room with high-end equipment and a pet spa. In addition to the independent ventilation systems that introduce fresh air and exhaust stale air, a UV light further treats the air to eliminate nearly all viruses, bacteria and mold. Roe Corporation expects the first apartments to be ready for purchase in early 2021. If you’re in the market, the starting price is listed at $11 million. + Charlotte UWS Images via Depict

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LEED Gold Columbia Building cleans stormwater runoff with green roofs

March 2, 2021 by  
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When Portland-based Skylab Architecture was asked by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services to design an extension of a wastewater treatment facility, sustainability was immediately identified as a key priority. Not only did the architects need to design the public project to meet a minimum of LEED Gold certification, but the building would also have to serve an educational purpose by providing a working demonstration of onsite stormwater filtration. Completed in 2014, the award-winning Columbia Building successfully meets its design targets with an attractive green roof and a visible stormwater management system.  Located south of the Columbia River and about 9 miles north of downtown Portland , the 11,640-square-foot Columbia Building primarily serves as a workspace for the wastewater treatment’s engineering department. The building also includes a visitor reception area and public meeting spaces. Large windows with operable air circulation vents and mirrored glass along the north facade frame views toward a partially enclosed Commons area and the riverine landscape beyond.  Related: Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction From afar, the single-story building draws the eye with its seven folded, cast-in-place concrete roof forms designed to channel and filter stormwater into a visible water collection system. After passing through the series of green roofs, the stormwater is drained along landscape berms for further filtration. The treated water is finally discharged back into the Columbia River. “This project accomplished three unique objectives in one single campus site: we created a vibrant and efficient workspace, clean on-site stormwater filtration and a dynamic conversation around the health of the surrounding watershed all working for clean rivers,” the architects noted in a project description. The Columbia Building has received nearly a dozen awards, including the 2015 Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design: American Architecture Award and the 2014 ASLA Oregon Award of Excellence. + Skylab Architecture Photography by Jeremy Bittermann via Skylab Architecture

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LEED Gold Columbia Building cleans stormwater runoff with green roofs

This home floats in a self-sufficient Amsterdam neighborhood

March 1, 2021 by  
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Comments Off on This home floats in a self-sufficient Amsterdam neighborhood

In a city characterized by fast population growth, Amsterdam residents are beginning to entertain alternative living situations. Enter Schoonschip, a sustainable floating neighborhood located on the Johan van Hasselt Canal in a former industrial area. Local architecture firm i29 has created a striking floating home with a small footprint inside the community. The residence aligns with the ideals of the entire self-sufficient neighborhood, which is currently home to over 100 people. Schoonschip is designed to employ circular building practices while respecting the natural environment. At its heart, the neighborhood utilizes a shared smart grid (or “smart jetty”) that connects the energy, waste and water lines of each floating house. The neighborhood is energy self-sufficient and recovers nutrients from surrounding organic waste streams. Related: Waterstudio unveils the world’s first floating timber tower “The location has a strong industrial past but today it is one of the most rapid changing city parts of Amsterdam transforming into a more multi functional living area,” i29 said. “The new floating neighborhood is intended to be an urban ecosystem embedded within the fabric of the city: making full use of ambient energy and water for use and re-use, cycling nutrients and minimizing waste, plus creating space for natural biodiversity.” Residents take full advantage of the canal with designated water plots, allowing each home to have its own personal touch. With the freedom to choose their own architect and interior designers despite the uniformity of the urban plan, the owners of the i29 floating home had their visions brought to life with a unique design and aesthetic that also maximized the plot space. Water views are available directly from the basement, and a separate terrace sits just above water level. The exterior is clad in black-stained timber while the interior provides a sharp contrast with white walls, clean lines and accents of natural wood . Towering skylights give the home an exceptionally bright, airy feeling while also providing plenty of harbor views from multiple points. Mimicking the overall design aspect of the neighborhood, which connects each home via jetty, the i29 floating home connects each of its three levels through a central atrium. + i29 Via Dezeen Images via i29

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This home floats in a self-sufficient Amsterdam neighborhood

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