3 keys for scaling nature-based solutions for climate adaptation

June 17, 2020 by  
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3 keys for scaling nature-based solutions for climate adaptation Jonathan Cook Wed, 06/17/2020 – 00:30 This article originally was published in World Resources Institute . In Indonesia, climate change is already a pernicious threat. More than 30 million people across northern Java suffer from coastal flooding and erosion related to more severe storms and sea level rise. In some places, entire villages and more than a mile of coastline have been lost to the sea. The flooding and erosion are exacerbated by the destruction of natural mangrove forests. These forests absorb the brunt of waves’ impact, significantly reducing both the height and speed of waves reaching shore. And mature mangroves can store nearly 1,000 tons of carbon per hectare, thus mitigating climate change while also helping communities adapt. Without mangroves, 18 million more people worldwide would suffer from coastal flooding each year (an increase of 39 percent). That’s why in Demak, Java, a diverse group of residents, NGOs, universities and the Indonesian government are working together on the “Building with Nature” project to restore a 12-mile belt of mangroves . The project, managed by Wetlands International, already has improved the district’s climate resilience, protecting communities from coastal flooding and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Nature-based solutions are an underused climate adaptation strategy Java isn’t the only place where nature-based solutions can make a difference. Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Coastal wetlands can defend communities from storm surge and sea level rise. Well-managed forests can protect water supplies, reduce wildfire risk and prevent landslides. Green space in cities can alleviate heat stress and reduce flooding. While we don’t yet have a full accounting of this potential, we do know that, for instance, wetland ecosystems cover about 8 percent of the planet’s land surface and the ecosystem services they provide — including flood protection, fisheries habitat and water purification — are worth up to $15 trillion . For example, offshore fisheries in areas with mangroves provide fishermen with an average of 271 pounds of fish (worth about $44) per hour, compared to an average of 40 pounds (only $2 to $3 per hour in places without mangroves). Yet despite nature’s ability to provide vast economic and climate resilience benefits, many countries are not fully using nature-based solutions for adaptation, according to research by the U.N. Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) produced for the Global Commission on Adaptation. Of 167 Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement, just 70 include nature-based adaptation actions; the majority of those are in low-income countries. The Global Commission on Adaptation is working with leading organizations and countries, including the governments of Canada, Mexico and Peru, the Global Environment Facility and the U.N. Environment Program, to scale these approaches globally through its Nature-Based Solutions Action Track . According to the Commission’s Adapt Now report  — which builds on UNEP-WCMC’s research — three crucial steps are needed to make this happen: 1. Raise understanding of the value of nature Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. For example, it can be 2 to 5 times cheaper to restore coastal wetlands than to construct breakwaters ­— artificial barriers typically made out of granite — yet both protect coasts from the impact of waves. The median cost for mangrove restoration is about 1 cent per square foot. This is far less than the often prohibitive cost of most built infrastructure. Mangrove areas yield other benefits, too, as illustrated by the effect on fisheries. In fact, the commission found the total net benefits of protecting mangroves globally is $1 trillion by 2030. While some research of this kind exists, countries often need place-specific assessments to identify the best opportunities to use nature-based solutions for adaptation. Governments also should consider that local and indigenous communities often have ample understanding of nature’s value for people, and should seek out and include this knowledge in plans and policies. The success of the “Building with Nature” project, for example, relied on the full involvement of local residents. Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. 2. Embed nature-based solutions into climate adaptation planning Nature-based solutions often work best when people use them at larger scales — across whole landscapes, ecosystems or cities. Governments are often best placed to plan climate adaptation at this scale given their access to resources and ability to make policy and coordinate among multiple actors. To be successful, they should include nature-based solutions in their adaptation planning from the start. Mexico’s approach to water management highlights how one way this can be achieved. Water supplies are especially vulnerable to climate change, as shifting rainfall patterns cause droughts in some places and floods in others. Mexico is proactively protecting its water on a national scale by designating water reserves in more than one-third of the country’s river basins. These protected areas and wetlands cover nearly 124 million acres and ensure a secure water supply for some 45 million people downstream. This approach can work in many other places. Research on cities’ water supplies shows that by conserving and restoring upstream forests, water utilities in the world’s 534 largest cities could better regulate water flows and collectively save $890 million in treatment costs each year. 3. Encourage investment in nature-based solutions Communities and countries often cite access to funding as a barrier to implementing nature-based solutions, and to climate adaptation efforts overall. But, as UNEP-WCMC highlights, governments can spur investment in these approaches by reorienting their policies, subsidies and public investments. They can also better incentivize private investors to finance adaptation projects. Many governments, private sector and philanthropic actors have funds that could be used for nature-based adaptation solutions — but a lack of awareness has hindered their widespread use. Part of the solution is helping communities and countries better understand what funding opportunities exist, learn from successful financing models and identify gaps that could be filled by interested donor countries, development institutions and private investors — an effort the commission is undertaking. The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. Canada’s $1.6 billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund is one example of a public financing approach. This fund helps communities manage risks from floods, wildfires, droughts and other natural hazards by providing investments in both green (nature-based) and gray (built) infrastructure. Much like the mangroves in Indonesia, Canada has its own coastal wetlands that protect its coasts from sea level rise. The fund recently invested $20 million into a project that is restoring salt marshes and improving levees along the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Once complete, the Bay of Fundy project will reduce coastal flooding that affects tens of thousands of residents, including indigenous communities, as well as World Heritage sites and more than 49,000 acres of farmland. Protecting nature protects people The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. They provide food, fuel and livelihoods; sustain cultural traditions; and offer health and recreation benefits. Many of these solutions actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, serving as climate mitigation strategies as well . They also provide critical habitat for biodiversity. The Global Commission on Adaptation is establishing a group of frontrunner countries, cities and communities to highlight successes, stimulate greater commitments and increase attention to nature’s underappreciated role in climate adaptation. By taking these steps to scale up nature-based solutions, we can realize the potential of nature to advance climate adaptation and protect those most likely to be affected by climate change. Pull Quote Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. Topics Risk & Resilience Risk Nature Based Solutions Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Scenic path on mangrove forest at Bama Beach in the Baluran National Park, a forest preservation area on the north coast of East Java, Indonesia Shutterstock Ivan Effendy Halim Close Authorship

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To make offices safe during COVID-19, buildings need a breath of fresh air

June 15, 2020 by  
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To make offices safe during COVID-19, buildings need a breath of fresh air Jesse Klein Mon, 06/15/2020 – 02:00 The coronavirus thrives inside. A Hong Kong paper found that of over 7,000 COVID-19 cases, only one outbreak was contracted outdoors. In Seoul, an infection cluster was so concentrated that even on a 19-floor building, the outbreak was contained to just one floor, and almost entirely on one side of that floor. The data seems to indicate that infections occur in dense inside areas with shared airspace, compounded by recirculating that air — the definition of a modern office building.  Over the past decade, the density of office buildings has increased in a bid for ever-increasing efficiency. The move from cubicles to open planning drastically decreased the average space per employee in an office. The average cubicle is usually between 6 feet by 6 feet and 8 feet by 12 feet. A standard office desk for an open plan is almost half that, typically 5 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep . Another side effect of open planning was more people sharing the same air with fewer physical barriers.  To keep energy costs low, contractors worked to tightly seal buildings including designing windows that don’t open. Improvements in ventilation technology have decreased energy consumption by up to 30 percent. Better filtration systems including HEPA filters, ionization, ultraviolet lights and active carbon have increased the quality of recirculated air, without having to increase the amount of fresh air in the building.  These denser, more shared office buildings were considered more sustainable because they used less energy and contained more people on a smaller carbon footprint. But they also seem to have created the perfect breeding ground for infection.  Forcing some of the owners of these buildings just to fix some of their systems that have been broken for a long time is a step in the right direction. Corporate sustainability experts are hoping that as COVID-19 forces corporate office managers to reevaluate their current setups, it also will be an opportunity to create more sustainable ventilation systems.  Pre-pandemic, LEED and WELL standards helped offices create more environmentally friendly and healthier ventilation systems. But even if LEED-certified buildings have ventilation systems that are up to code, the facilities managers haven’t always been enforcing or maintaining them. According to Joe Snider, green architect and founder of Integrative Sustainability Solutions, these buildings might be up to LEED standards on paper but in reality, they aren’t operating that way. The coronavirus could be a driving force in changing that, he said.  “Forcing some of the owners of these buildings just to fix some of their systems that have been broken for a long time is a step in the right direction,” said Richard Kingston, vice president of sustainability at HPN Select, a building materials procurement business based in North Carolina.  Offices might have to look for tactics from other industries in order to bring workers back to the office. For example, conference rooms that squeeze a mass of people in a small closed-off space are unlikely to be desirable to employees for a long while. Facility managers might need to consider negative pressure systems that can expel all the air in the room, similar to how infectious patients are contained in hospitals, for this type of collaboration. Companies including the San Francisco-based vertical farm Plenty are already organizing workers in cohorts who come in on the same days so if an outbreak occurs, it will be contained to one set of workers. Managers of traditional office space might need to consider doing the same. But the ventilation itself also will need divisions to contain an outbreak within a cohort as much as possible. “You’ll need to divide systems up so that massive rooms are not ventilated by the same ventilator that then blows air across the room,” said Clinton Moloney, managing director of sustainability solutions at Engie Impact. “Because what you don’t want to do is blow a continuous infection across a large space.” According to Gensler technical director Ambrose Aliaga Kelly, we could see a new wave of underfloor ventilation common in upscale theaters and concert halls such as Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. Workers will be very conscious of air being forced down onto them by overhead vents. Underfloor ventilation creates safer and better air quality with the added benefit of being more sustainable. The New York Times Building and the San Francisco Federal Building are just two examples of places that opted for this type of ventilation long before an infection started sweeping the globe. Concerning implications for energy consumption But some ways of mitigating virus transference indoors also could push employers in the opposite direction of energy efficiency.  As workers return to the offices, the amount of fresh air in a building could be one of the most drastic shifts facilities have to make. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers ( ASHRAE ) 62.1. Code an outdoor air minimum for healthy buildings of about 15 percent, according to Kelly. Most of what people breathe inside is recirculated air.  Architects predict that the amount of fresh air in buildings will skyrocket. Buildings might have to embrace windows that open, increase the fresh air take up and invest in outdoor workspaces. Brandywine Realty Trust , a commercial landlord in Philadelphia, already has adjusted its systems to maximize the amount of fresh outside air in its buildings. Along with hopefully mitigating coronavirus infections, studies have shown that increases in fresh air create more productive and healthier workers. The Centers for Disease Control released guidelines for businesses on ventilation during COVID-19 that recommend up to 100 percent outdoor air, if possible. But with more outdoor air, the energy to heat and cool that air also will increase.  Suddenly you’re having to condition all that [outdoor] air. And that’s where the energy bill can really spike. “That’s kind of the trade-off with better ventilation,” Snider said. “The system itself is not necessarily more expensive. Suddenly you’re having to condition all that [outdoor] air. And that’s where the energy bill can really spike.”  He believes there are opportunities beyond just defaulting to MAX ventilation that will push up energy consumption, such as being able to set ventilation systems in meeting rooms so while it is occupied the ventilation is high, continues to crank for a little while after people leave and then ramps down while the space is empty. If office buildings decide the energy emissions and costs are worth bringing people back to the office safely, Moloney expects an increased focus on renewable energy credits and offsets in order for companies to continue to meet its sustainability goals. According to a 2011 paper by researchers at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), strategies for better indoor air quality can exist in conjunction with energy efficiencies including envelope airtightness, heat recovery ventilation, demand-controlled ventilation and improved system maintenance. Facilities managers might become the new heroes of the office building. They will need to start stepping up into a more visible role as employees demand a better understanding of their office’s maintenance systems. A focus on better filters and, more important, remembering to replace those filters will move from a banal chore to a priority.  The changes in the density of the workplace also could push employers to invest in more sophisticated systems and sensors to increase energy efficiencies. As remote work continues and staggered shifts with fewer people in the office at one time become the norm, offices will need to adjust their ventilation systems. Executives won’t want to waste money and energy on a half-empty building. Demand control CO2 sensors measure the number of people in a room based on breath and can adjust the systems accordingly. And automatic thermometer and ventilation controls will help remove human error. “You’re eliminating the need for somebody to flip the switch,” Kingston said. “And if you can eliminate the need, you’re gonna save energy costs.”  The pandemic has shifted air quality from a side benefit of sustainable buildings to a prime objective of many construction projects, sustainable or not. Experts hope the crisis is the opportunity to turn every construction project into a sustainable one.  “Not only are we addressing what’s going on right now, but we’re putting in place things that are going to affect the workspace in the future,” Kingston said. “And those are all things that needed to change for a long time.” Pull Quote Forcing some of the owners of these buildings just to fix some of their systems that have been broken for a long time is a step in the right direction. Suddenly you’re having to condition all that [outdoor] air. And that’s where the energy bill can really spike. Topics COVID-19 Buildings Energy & Climate HVAC Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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To make offices safe during COVID-19, buildings need a breath of fresh air

Solar-powered Lowell Justice Center will be Massachusetts first LEED Platinum courthouse

June 4, 2020 by  
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Half-an-hour north of Boston, the Massachusetts city of Lowell has recently welcomed the new Lowell Justice Center, a modern facility on track to become the state’s first LEED Platinum-certified courthouse. Designed by Boston-based Finegold Alexander Architects , the $146 million courthouse has consolidated a series of courts and service offices that had formerly been located in outdated and dysfunctional buildings across Lowell and Cambridge. The Lowell Justice Center also serves as a new and welcoming civic landmark that emphasizes transparency, local history and community. Located on a 3.2-acre site within Lowell National Historic Park, The Lowell Justice Center serves as the cornerstone of the city’s Hamilton Canal District development masterplan. The 265,000-square-foot modern building comprises 17 courtrooms , a variety of office spaces and a two-story entrance lobby that can accommodate waiting lines of over 100 people at any time. Related: Renzo Piano reveals designs for Toronto courthouse targeting LEED Silver “The justice center is designed to create a welcoming and calming environment, featuring generous natural daylight, warm finishes and public art that reflects the diverse history and culture of Lowell,” said Moe Finegold FAIA, principal in charge for Finegold Alexander Architects, in reference to the quadrilingual quotations and words about justice that decorate the building as well as the natural material palette and artwork that pay homage to Lowell’s textile history. The courthouse is also universally accessible with sloped walkways and offers easy access via public transportation, car or bicycle. Ample glazing reflects the courthouse’s values of transparency while letting abundant natural light into the building to minimize reliance on artificial lighting. The center has also been designed in response to its site and to follow passive solar principles to meet high standards of energy efficiency. In addition to highly insulated walls and high-performance mechanical and lighting systems, the courthouse also contains a chilled beam HVAC system and photovoltaic panels to help achieve performance targets 40% better than code. + Finegold Alexander Architects Photography by Anton Grassl Photography via Finegold Alexander Architects

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Solar-powered Lowell Justice Center will be Massachusetts first LEED Platinum courthouse

Climate change, deforestation lead to younger, shorter trees

June 4, 2020 by  
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Recently published research in  Science  magazine warns that older, taller  trees  are quickly becoming a thing of the past, consequently leaving forests in disarray. Forest dynamics being disrupted like this spells trouble for ecosystem equilibrium and  biodiversity .  While natural disturbances —  flooding , landslides, insect infestations, fungi, vine overgrowth, disease, wildfire and even wind damage — negatively impact  forests , they do not compare with the magnitude of harm humans have precipitated. Consider how over-harvesting trees for more land use has altered forest landscapes. The felling of numerous tree stands has severely dwindled the carbon sinks required to fix excess atmospheric carbon resultant from human-induced  greenhouse gas emissions .  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? Without the necessary  carbon  storage from forest trees, global temperatures will continue to rise and intensify consequent climate change damage.  Climate change  exacerbates conditions through insect and pathogen outbreaks that further compromise tree health and development. In fact,  research  has shown that annual “carbon storage lost to insects” equals “the amount of carbon emitted by 5 million vehicles.” This illustrates how substantial tree decline due to insects can be.  Why are biologists worried about the adversely shifting forest dynamics? As the  U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)  explained, “Wood harvests alone have had a huge impact on the shift of global forests towards younger ages or towards non-forest land, reducing the amount of forests, and old-growth forests, globally. Where forests are re-established on harvested land, the trees are smaller and  biomass  is reduced.”  Conservationists  subsequently admonish that continuing with business as usual will only worsen the conditions that increase tree mortality rates and the accompanying biodiversity crisis. As  NPR  reported, “Researchers found that the world lost roughly one-third of its old growth forest between 1900 and 2015. In North America and Europe , where more data was available, they found that tree mortality has doubled in the past 40 years.” It is believed these worrying trends will persist unless changes are made and new protection policies enacted.  Research team lead, Nate McDowell of PNNL, realized there was a major problem as he studied how global temperature rise affected tree growth and the changes occurring within a forest. Satellite imagery and modeling data unveiled a comprehensive view of the state of global forests and their shifts from older, taller trees to younger, shorter ones. The overall picture is of extensive loss. “I would recommend that people try to visit places with big trees now, while they can, with their kids,” McDowell advised. “Because there’s some significant threat, that might not be possible sometime in the future.” McDowell’s research ties in closely with last summer’s study from  National Science Review , which showcased how exposure to both rising temperatures and extreme temperature ranges have decreased  vegetation  growth throughout the northern hemisphere. The finding upended previous beliefs that  global warming  would increase vegetation photosynthesis and extend the photosynthetic growing season. Instead, global warming was seen to increase the chances of  drought  and wildfire, which reduced water availability and therefore distressed forest vegetation. + Science Via NPR and PNNL

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Climate change, deforestation lead to younger, shorter trees

UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination

May 28, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has unveiled a masterplan to transform South Korea’s Gyeongdo Island into a new, 470,000-square-meter leisure destination that puts the spotlight on nature. The design celebrates the island’s natural beauty by orienting development around carefully framed landscape views — a design approach borrowed from ancient Korean garden design. The high-density development, which ranges from an affordable family resort to private villas, will follow passive solar and bio-design principles to minimize energy use. Commissioned by client YKDevelopment, the redevelopment of Gyeongdo is part of a plan to turn the island into “Asia’s number one marine and coastal tourism destination”. Located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, Gyeongdo sits 2 kilometers southeast of the city of Yeosu, the main tourist hub in the Namhae region that is renowned for beautiful, green islands and ocean views. UNStudio’s masterplan aims to highlight the island’s rich biodiversity by creating three developments along the island, each informed by a distinct garden concept with different trees, flowers and other vegetation. Related: UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwha’s HQ Built on either side of a “green backbone” for conservation, the three developments will be nestled within areas of reconstructed forest. The three neighborhoods include the Gyeongdo Gateway at the island’s main entrance; the Sunrise Waterfront on the east side of the island; and Sea Breeze Coast at the island’s southern point. Gyeongdo Gateway will house the main port, a cable car station, marina and bridge, an entertainment center, shopping mall and a waterside boardwalk. The quieter Sunrise Waterfront will serve as the island’s “leisure heart” and will include a four-star hotel and condos. The Sea Breeze Coast neighborhood is located in the most secluded part of the island and will offer a five-star hotel and a series of private villas. All of the buildings will be thoughtfully embedded into the landscape to follow the natural terrain and passive solar principles. Visitors and residents will have access to a seamless public transportation system to easily and sustainably move about the island. + UNStudio Images by Plomp (NL) and Flying Architecture (CZ) via UNStudio

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UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination

Heatherwick Studio completes nature-filled EDEN apartments in Singapore

May 26, 2020 by  
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Greenery spills down the sides of EDEN, a nature-filled apartment building completed in late 2019 by British design and architecture firm Heatherwick Studio in the historic Newton district of Singapore. Inspired by Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of a “city in a garden”, the architects departed from the typical glass-and-steel tower typology with an innovative luxury housing complex surrounded by tropical greenery on all sides. The building’s environmentally friendly features also earned it a Green Mark Award Platinum Rating by the Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority.  Commissioned by Swire Properties, EDEN represents a new and unique way of living in the city with its elevated base — the lowest floor is raised 23 meters above an intensely planted, ground-level, tropical garden to allow for city views from every apartment — natural materials and details and unconventional apartment layouts. Each apartment is centered on an airy, open-plan living space that connects to landscaped, shell-like balconies on three sides and three “wings”. There are two wings to the south with two bedrooms each and a northern wing that contains the kitchen and service areas. Related: Heatherwick Studio breaks ground on undulating plant-covered development in the heart of Tokyo Filled with light and views of greenery and the city skyline, the interiors are dressed in natural materials , including parquet timber floors and stone walls in the bathrooms that are fitted with Heatherwick Studio-designed sinks, vanities and baths. The balconies that are formed around the Y-shaped apartment floor plan feature over 20 species of flora to surround the living spaces with calming greenery and provide natural shading from the sun. The exposed undersides of the balconies were built of smooth, highly polished concrete made with a bespoke casting technique. “Over time, the building is designed to mature, as the lush planting grows, like a sapling that has taken root beneath the streets, pulling the landscape of Singapore up into the sky,” the architects explained. The exterior facade flanking the green balconies is built of concrete molded with an abstracted topographical map of Singapore’s terrain, creating a unique, three-dimensional texture. + Heatherwick Studio Photography by Hufton+Crow via Heatherwick Studio

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Heatherwick Studio completes nature-filled EDEN apartments in Singapore

Montreal unveils plans for award-winning Biodiversity Corridor

May 26, 2020 by  
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Following decades of car-oriented growth that replaced swaths of greenery with asphalt, the city of Montreal is attempting to bring nature back with the launch of its ambitious new Biodiversity Corridor project. A team of four firms — civiliti, LAND Italia, Table Architecture and Biodiversité Conseil — designed the project, which was selected as the winning submission in a 2018 national landscape architecture competition. The greening initiative will be implemented in Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough over the next 20 years. According to the design team, approximately 70% of Saint-Laurent is now covered in asphalt as a result of the rapid industrialization of the city that started in the 1960s. Dismayed by the disappearance of tree cover and vegetation, local authorities in 2015 began conducting various studies — including detailed inventories of existing fauna and flora — for bringing nature back to the region. This ultimately led to the idea of the Biodiversity Corridor. Related: An old warehouse is rehabbed into chic apartments in Montreal The Biodiversity Corridor will be organized along a narrow strip of “wasteland” that runs underneath overhead power lines along three main boulevards. The space, currently occupied by nothing other than mowed lawns, will be transformed into flowering meadows to attract birds, pollinating insects and small animals. Earthworks will also be employed to create an undulating landscape for visual interest. New pedestrian trails, upgraded bicycle paths and a series of activity and rest areas will be added as well. “The corridor will enable the transition from a mostly asphalted, fragmented territory to a diversified urban landscape, connected to all living beings,” said Fannie Duguay-Lefebvre, a spokesperson for civiliti. The Biodiversity Corridor masterplan is also expected to serve as a model for sustainable landscape reclamation for all of Montreal as well as other cities and countries. The project received a Special Jury Award for the category “Sustainable Development” in the 2020 edition of the National Urban Design Awards.  + civiliti Images via civiliti, LAND Italia, Table Architecture and Biodiversité Conseil

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Montreal unveils plans for award-winning Biodiversity Corridor

Designers propose sustainable housing in response to COVID-19 lifestyle changes

May 26, 2020 by  
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For those lucky enough to keep their jobs during the global pandemic, a large portion have been working from home — a privilege that could become a permanent way of life for many. In response to how COVID-19 continues to reshape our lives, Paris-based architecture firm Studio BELEM has proposed Aula Modula, a conceptual live/work urban housing scheme that emphasizes flexibility, community and sustainability. In addition to providing individual workspaces for work-from-home setups, Aula Modula would also offer plenty of green spaces as a means of bringing nature back to the city. Envisioned for a post- COVID-19 world, Aula Modula combines elements of high-density urban living with greater access to nature. According to Studio BELEM, the concept is an evolution of traditional western architectural and urban planning models that have been unchanged for years and fail to take into account diminishing greenery in cities, rising commute times and the conveniences afforded by the internet. Related: Architects design COVID-19 mobile testing labs for underserved communities “Aula Modula chooses to free itself from the standards and codes of traditional housing,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The Aula Modula brings back a natural environment to the city, promoting new commonly shared spaces and social interactions between its residents.” In addition to providing individual home offices to each apartment, the live/work complex includes communal access to a central courtyard and terraces to promote a sense of community — both social and professional — between residents and workers. The architects propose to construct the development primarily from timber to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Aula Modula is also envisioned with green roofs irrigated with recycled and treated wastewater, a series of terraced vegetable gardens and a communal greenhouse warmed with recovered thermal energy from the building. The apartments would sit atop a mix of retail and recreational services, such as a grocery store, craft brewery and yoga studio. + Studio Belem Images by Studio Belem

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Designers propose sustainable housing in response to COVID-19 lifestyle changes

Is it scooter company Lime’s moment to shine?

May 20, 2020 by  
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Is it scooter company Lime’s moment to shine? Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 05/20/2020 – 02:20 If you look at the headlines about the shared scooter industry — with service shut-downs and cratering valuations — you easily could predict the long-hyped sector’s demise. But what if now is the moment for scooters to really shine and deliver the unique transportation value that the new world needs? At least for a company that remains standing.  For Andrew Savage, Lime’s head of sustainability and impact, the time for scooters has arrived, in a similar way that online meeting platform Zoom, food delivery services and connected biking company Peloton are exploding during the shelter-in-place order. “I believe that post-pandemic, it will be micromobility’s moment,” said Savage in an interview.  If you haven’t been following the roller coaster ride of Lime lately, here’s a recap. The company, along with some of its peers, shut down most services when the pandemic hit, laid off some employees, ended up raising a $170 million round led by Uber and in the process also acquired Uber’s shared bike service Jump. Plus, the funding forced it to reportedly lose 80 percent of its valuation.  But in recent weeks Lime has started to open up services, as more of an essential operation, in Paris, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Oklahoma City, Austin, Columbus, Washington, D.C. and other cities. It appears that riders in these cities are turning to scooters as a major transportation service. Lime has seen median trip times double in Oklahoma City and Columbus since reopening, indicating that riders are using scooters for full commutes instead of just first mile and last mile.  Now more than ever, people are demanding open-air, single-occupancy transportation. Part of the shift obviously comes from consumer need and preference. “Now more than ever, people are demanding open-air, single-occupancy transportation,” Savage noted. It also has to do with distrust in the safety of public transportation, which has seen spikes in operators falling ill to COVID-19 in places such as New York. Another part of the transformation has to do with policy. Some cities such as Paris are working hard to make sure that a post-pandemic world isn’t overrun with single occupancy vehicle driving . Paris is building 404 miles of lanes for micromobility, including bikes and scooters, and last week Lime relaunched its 2,000-scooter service as the city has started to ease its lockdown. The scooter companies are being forced to adapt to the new world in order to survive. “We spent the first two years as an industry as disruptors of the status quo. What we’ve seen during the pandemic is scooters are being established as more of an essential service,” Savage said.  City leaders and transportation planners have long called for scooter companies and cities to align more closely to offer riders better service. It looks as if a crisis might be able to make that a reality.  Of course, this can only be a big moment for scooters if the operators make it through the hard times. For Lime, the pandemic shut-down came at a particularly inopportune time for the company. “We were on the doorstep of being the first micromobility company to reach profitability and be cash-flow positive,” Savage said.  Post-pandemic, Lime might be a smaller company with a lower valuation, but it has the opportunity to grow its position as the dominant micromobility provider. It has the Jump bikes, a new round of funding, a deeper partnership with Uber and the most widespread reach. Savage said: “I think we’re in the best position to take advantage of the moment.” What do you think? Will scooters surge like Zoom? Funny, I always thought Uber and Lyft eventually would dominate the scooter market.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote Now more than ever, people are demanding open-air, single-occupancy transportation. Topics Transportation & Mobility COVID-19 E-scooters Public Transit Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A lime scooter in San Diego in April. Shutterstock Simone Hogan Close Authorship

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Is it scooter company Lime’s moment to shine?

London creates massive car-free zones as the city reopens

May 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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How do you simultaneously discourage people from riding public transportation, avoid automobile gridlock and maintain social distancing? By designating bike- and pedestrian-only streets. At least, that’s the approach London is trying as it eases its lockdown restrictions. Last week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced one of the world’s biggest car-free initiatives. Main streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Old Street and Holborn and Euston and Waterloo will be reserved for bicycles, walkers and buses. The network of car-free streets may expand, and trucks and cars might be banned from London Bridge and Waterloo Bridge. Related: Meet the urban planner responsible for San Francisco’s car-free Market Street Khan said in a press release that the pandemic is “the biggest challenge to London’s public transport network in Transport for London’s history. It will take a monumental effort from all Londoners to maintain safe social distancing on public transport as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.” Officials hope that millions of journeys will instead be made on foot or two wheels. To further discourage motorists, London is reinstating and increasing “congestion charges” for drivers in heavily trafficked zones during weekday business hours. Certain essential workers who must drive private vehicles will be reimbursed. The mayor’s office emphasizes that for now, public transport should be a last resort. Some populations who ordinarily get to travel for free or at reduced rates — such as children, seniors and people who have disabilities — will have to pay fares as part of a large government bailout deal for Transport for London (TfL), the city’s transportation system. TfL has kept trains and buses running to transport essential workers while losing 90% of fare revenues and much of its advertising in tube stations as well as furloughing 7,000 members of its workforce. Doug Parr, chief scientist and policy director at Greenpeace U.K., endorsed the car-free plan. Parr said, “Not only will transforming our streets in a way that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists, and makes it safer for people to move about as lockdown restrictions are eased, but by permanently restricting car use we can keep toxic pollution from filling our air once again.” Via The Guardian Image via Aron Van de Pol

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London creates massive car-free zones as the city reopens

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