First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

November 8, 2019 by  
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Milan-based architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled innovative designs for a nature-infused smart city in Cancun, Mexico that will serve as a model for resilient and sustainable urban planning. Created for Honduras-based textile conglomerate and property developer Grupo Karim, ‘Smart Forest City – Cancun’ is a proposed alternative to plans for a shopping district in the area. The masterplan would reforest a 557-hectare site — currently used as a sand quarry for hotels — and create mixed-use development that would be completely food and energy self-sufficient. The proposed Smart Forest City – Cancun would house 130,000 residents as well as 7,500,000 plants of 400 different species selected by botanist and landscape architect Lauri Gatti. More than 200,000 trees would be planted to create a ratio of 2.3 trees per inhabitant, while the remainder of the vegetation would be mostly shrubs, bushes, green roofs and vertical gardens. “Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,” the press release stated. Related: Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design With help from the German company Transsolar, the mixed-use development would be surrounded by a ring of solar panels that provide enough renewable energy to meet the residents’ needs. The city would also include an agricultural field belt that wraps around the urban area. The fields would be irrigated by a water channel fed by an underwater maritime pipe and treated with a desalination tower. Parking for traditional vehicles would be located on the city periphery; a MIC (Mobility in Chain) system would provide internal electric and semi-automatic vehicles to transport residents and visitors throughout the development. As a testing hub for sustainable urbanism , the Smart Forest City – Cancun proposal includes a center for advanced research large enough to host international organizations, university departments and companies. The center would include research and development facilities dedicated to sustainability issues and green infrastructure. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti and The Big Picture

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First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

Canada unveils its first chemical-free public outdoor pool and it’s gorgeous

September 13, 2019 by  
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Toronto-based architects, gh3* have just unveiled a stunning chemical-free natural pool in the city of Edmonton, Alberta. The Borden Park Natural Swimming Pool, which replaced an existing pool that dated back to the 1950s, was incorporated with several innovative natural filtration processes that uses a combination of stone, gravel, sand and botanic filtering to keep the waters clean and pristine. The project was a massive undertaking from the start. The old pool and infrastructure had to be completely gutted to make room for the new, completely chemical -free swimming pool. The whopping 64,465 square foot complex is made up of seasonal pavilion and landscaped pool area that accommodates up to 400 swimmers. In addition to the main swimming area, there is also a kids pool. Next to the outdoor area, a large contemporary building houses the universal changing rooms, along with showers and bathrooms. There is also a sandy beach and picnic area, as well as a volleyball court and exhibition space. Related: Chemical-free community swimming pool is filled with recycled rainwater filtered through plants To create an all-natural swimming pool that was safe for swimmers, the designers had to work within Canada’s ultra strict regulations for public swimming pools. To completely avoid the use of chemicals was challenging, but the team worked with several experts to create a balanced ecosystem where plant materials, microorganisms and nutrients come together to create a system of “living water.” The pool water is filtrated in two ways: using a biological-mechanical system or using the constructed wetland and gravel filter filled wtih Zooplankton . These soil-free systems allow for a chemical and disinfectant free filtering system in which water is completely cleaned via a natural process as it circulates. The system entails a long circulation process that sees the water flow through a sand and stone pond first, then a hydro botanic pond. Adjacent to these ponds, a granular filter PO4 adsorption unit was installed that runs along the gabion walls that run the length of the pool, allowing the water to circulate from one end to the other unnoticed. The entire system allows for a natural, chemical-free cleaning process that is entirely eco-friendly and safe for swimmers. The natural swimming pool is the firm’s latest addition to the Edmonton area. In 2015, the designers unveiled a gorgeous glowing mirrored pavilion in the same area. + gh3* Photos via gh3*

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Canada unveils its first chemical-free public outdoor pool and it’s gorgeous

The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

September 13, 2019 by  
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The rate of world deforestation continues to accelerate, despite governments’ promises to reverse it. Now, the world loses 64 million acres a year of forested land, which is equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom, according to a new study by Climate Focus . Thirty-seven governments as well as many multinational companies, NGOs and groups representing indigenous communities have signed the New York Declaration on Forests since it sprang from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014. This declaration pledged to cut the deforestation rate in half by 2020 and to end it by 2030. Unfortunately, this feel-good, non-legally binding declaration has been hugely unsuccessful. Since the declaration was penned, tree cover loss has skyrocketed by 43 percent, while tropical primary forests have been slashed. The world is now in worse shape than when the well-intended pledge was made. Some countries are making an effort. Indonesia slowed its rate of deforestation by a third between 2017 and 2018. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, Mexico and El Salvador, are determinedly planting trees. But these attempts are overshadowed by deforestation in much of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Major forests in these regions saw marked decreases in tree cover between 2014 and 2018. Latin America lost the most forest by volume, but Africa experienced the greatest increase in the rate of deforestation. Of course, the recent Amazon wildfires are bringing deforestation to a whole new level. Climate scientists worry about feedback loops, where climate change makes trees drier, leading to increased flammability and more fires and carbon dioxide, which in turn makes things drier, hotter and even more flammable. “Deforestation, mostly for agriculture, contributes around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions,” Jo House, an environmental specialist at the University of Bristol, told The Guardian . “At the same time, forests naturally take up around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This natural sink provided by forests is at risk from the dual compounding threats of further deforestation and future climate change . The continued loss of primary forests at ever-increasing rates. despite their incalculable value and irreplaceability, is both shocking and tragic.” + Climate Focus Via The Guardian Image via Robert Jones

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The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

Get serious about climate change with this board game

April 30, 2019 by  
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For years, concerned environmentalists have been warning decision-makers to stop playing around and get serious about climate change . But for California’s Marin County, the game might be the only way to getting people and lawmakers into taking climate change seriously. Game of Floods, the board game developed by Marin County, is intended for students and urban planners to introduce players to the complexities of climate adaptation in a fun and engaging way. Marin County is located within the San Francisco Bay Area and although it is one of the country’s wealthiest counties, the threats of sea level rise and climate change are still insurmountable. According to  City Labs,  the rapidly rising sea level threatens to flood billions of dollars worth of roads, homes and businesses within 8 miles of Marin’s shoreline in the next 15 years. This imminent threat includes 10 to 20 percent of the county’s buildings and thousands of residents. The Marin Community Development Agency created an interactive board game to educate planners, community organizations and citizens about the seriousness of climate change and flooding, and the difficulties of reaching a collaborative solution. City Lab’s Laura Bliss calls the Settlers of Catan-style game, “a choose-your-own-hazard-mitigation romp created by a team of local public works engineers and planners.” How to play ‘Game of Floods’ The goal of the game is to develop a vision for the year 2050 on the fictional Marin Island, which represents conditions that apply to counties throughout the Bay Area. Four to six players select community assets to protect, which range from hospitals, to roads, farms, electric plants and bird colonies. The players then move through flooding and sea-level rise scenarios, select different adaptation strategies and defend their choices. Players are forced to consider a multitude of benefits, trade-offs and consequences for each choice, which inevitably sparks debate between the players. Each strategy is analyzed for its environmental impacts, social consequences and price tag. The ultimate objective of the game is to hear each player’s strategy reach a group consensus of the best vision for 2050. Who can play? Due to its widespread popularity, anyone can purchase the game from the County of Marin for $50 , which offsets the cost of its printing and production. The game is intended to educate students, community groups, residents, planners, professional networks and to spark citizen engagement regarding climate change throughout the area. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Five fast facts on flooding Tragically, carbon emissions are already at an irreversible level that is causing glaciers to melt into the ocean and increase sea level. The media has shown the devastating impacts on arctic species such as polar bears, but what does sea level rise mean for people throughout the world? Here are some alarming facts from the  Mother Nature Network to get your attention: 1. Every inch of sea-level rise equals 50 to 100 inches of beach loss. Think of the ocean as a massive bowl. Every drop of water added into the bowl brings the water level higher up the sloped sides. These sides represent beaches, coastal roads, wetlands and shorelines around the world. 2. The number of days with coastal flooding in the U.S. has more than doubled since the 1980s . A study by Climate Central analyzed the increase in flood days in coastal cities and estimated the percent of that increase that is directly related to human causes. The report found the number of flood days more than doubled in many cities and attributed more than 60 percent of that increase to “unnatural” sea level rise in every city. 3. Up to 216 million people will live below sea level by 2100. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 300 to 650 million people live on land that will be below sea level by 2100, according to current trends in flooding. 4. Sea-level rise contaminates drinking water. When the level of the sea rises, salt water can enter fresh ground water and aquifers. This is called salt water intrusion. Although municipalities can process the salt out of the water, this procedure is complex, costly and requires significant infrastructure to create a desalination plant. 5. Coastal flooding will cost major cities $1 trillion every year if they do not take drastic steps to adapt. Without preventive measures, cities and their residents will have to pay for costly damage to infrastructure, including buildings, roads and utilities. Game of Floods originally launched in 2015, but the County of Marin has released updated editions due to its popularity.  The game  won many awards , including the American Planning Association’s National Planning Achievement Award and California Award of Excellence, a California State Association of Counties Merit Award and a Marin County Innovation Recognition Award. Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) use the game for their staff and outreach activities. “It all boils down to getting a conversation started about a very important topic,” Roberta Rewers of the American Planning Association told CityLab . “It visualizes what could happen in a community, and it gets people thinking about how choices have impacts.” + Marin County Images via County of Marin

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Get serious about climate change with this board game

The Michael Pollan lens on transportation

March 27, 2019 by  
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Can healthy eating principles also foster a healthier transport evironment?

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The Michael Pollan lens on transportation

Why mobility is a climate change issue

January 16, 2019 by  
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It’s emerging as a key way that cities can promote sustainability and reduce transportation emissions.

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5 ways to create a strong sustainability culture

January 16, 2019 by  
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It’s more than employee engagement — it’s a strategic imperative.

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The French connection: What France’s Yellow Vest protests can teach the United States about sustainability

January 16, 2019 by  
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We must reimagine programs so the folks who are hurting the most right now get the most help.

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The French connection: What France’s Yellow Vest protests can teach the United States about sustainability

3 things to know about Malta, the Google-incubated and Bill Gates-backed startup

January 16, 2019 by  
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The energy storage technology company is proving that batteries aren’t just for backup anymore.

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3 things to know about Malta, the Google-incubated and Bill Gates-backed startup

An affogato theory of transportation

September 11, 2018 by  
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Coffee and ice cream and jam (or traffic jams).

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An affogato theory of transportation

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