Going ‘green’ in landscaping

How “green” (eco-friendly) is your lawn? A truly healthy landscape is not measured by a weed-free, well-manicured lawn but by what lies beneath the surface (the condition of the soil) and the environment above the ground.

Many people use chemicals and pesticides to maintain a green, weed-free lawn, not considering that, although most lawn fertilizers will make your grass green, they ultimately may harm the soil and the environment. The chemicals found in lawn fertilizers can kill healthy insects, fungi and organisms, such as earthworms. Earthworms aid in aeration of the soil.

Pesticides not only kill the bad bugs, but also beneficial insects and other creatures, such as ladybugs, spiders and honeybees. All of these “healthy” bugs attract songbirds and other wildlife, which then promote a healthy ecosystem and environment.

Another serious result of using chemicals and pesticides on lawns is runoff. Runoff occurs when there is overwatering or excessive rain. This causes the chemicals, as well as phosphorus, to flow into storm drains and directly into our fresh water source.

Source: IndyStar.com - The Indianapolis Star – Going ‘green’ in landscaping

Green proposals for downtown Columbia — baltimoresun.com

Solar arrays, “green” roofs and storm-water management that doubles as civic art and takes place only when it’s raining are among the ideas for improving the environment in the redevelopment of downtown Columbia, a consultant told residents this week.

Town Center could be a “city within a garden,” said Keith Bowers, a landscape architect on General Growth Properties’ design team — a vibrant place that makes use of renewable energy and is built with local materials so that little energy is expended to bring supplies here. Bowers’ ecological restoration design, planning and assessment business is leading the sustainability and environmental component of GGP’s efforts to re-create downtown

Read more @ the Source: baltimoresun.comGreen proposals for downtown Columbia 

For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – New York Times

“It’s not unusual for people to say they don’t want it,” said Mr. Simpson, the “it” referring to whatever tree the city has resolved to plant in a swatch of sidewalk or other public space. Mr. Simpson is privy to some of those objections because he works for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, one of 40 or so foresters helping to execute Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s million-tree initiative, a plan the mayor announced (one year ago this week) to blitz the city’s five boroughs with a million trees by the year 2017.

Sometimes the residents or homeowners are worried about their allergies (though the trees are intended to help alleviate asthma and allergy rates citywide); sometimes they’re worried that a branch will fall on their car (a call to 311 will procure a free pruning). Sometimes they’re worried about the extensive construction required to plant a tree in a patch of concrete.

Read more at the SOURCE: New York Times – For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – .

Tianjin Eco-City Masterplan to be launched next week

COULD Singapore spark the green revolution in China, a country recently named in a University of California report as the world’s “biggest polluter”?

This possibility is being raised as the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City — the first collaboration of its kind between Singapore and Beijing since the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) in 1994 — takes off.

Using the lessons from the Housing and Development Board’s 48 years of experience, the planners have opted for a practical approach in the quest to convert the wetlands and rivers of the site — 150 km from Beijing — into a city that is the model of sustainable development.
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The best ideas of both countries will go into developing the 30-sq-km site into a living space for 350,000 residents in 10 to 15 years’ time, with schools, housing areas, commercial and industrial services.

“We don’t want it to be a laboratory experiment because ‘cutting edge’ suggests that it cannot be replicated elsewhere,” said Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan as he unveiled the key features of the draft master plan on Tuesday.

Indeed, the experiment will in turn provide lessons for Singapore. “We are learning from each other but will take the higher of the two standards and try to implement it here,” said Mr Mah.

The plan is spearheaded by the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, and a Singapore planning team led by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Development will be headed by a joint venture between a Singapore group led by Keppel Corporation and Chinese companies.

When completed circa 2023, each block in the eco-city will conform to green building standards to ensure efficient energy use. Renewable energy sources such as solar power will be available, while an efficient public transport network of light rail trains and buses will be in place, alongside extensive cycling and footpaths to discourage motorised transportation.

Like the SIP project, the Tianjin Eco-City is expected to deepen bilateral ties and “provide new platforms for leaders, officials and business people to engage each other”, said Mr Mah.

The Tianjin Municipal Government will release the master plan for public consultation next week. Work has commenced on the 3-sq-km start-up area to be completed in three to five years’ time.

Source: TODAYonline – This eco-city to show the way By Zul Othman
zul@mediacorp.com.sg

Modern suburbia not just in America anymore – USATODAY.com

By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY

A Chinese delegation from Beijing arrived in Phoenix last month and headed west to the Sonoran Desert, deep into suburbia. Its destination: a quintessential American residential development in Buckeye, one of the many suburbs dotting the sprawling metropolitan area.

Members of the group studied the streetscape, the golf course, the spa, the cybercafé, the health care amenities and the design of the single-family homes at Sun City Festival, a 3,000-acre, planned community for people over 55. They commented on the cleanliness and orderliness of it all.

The 25 Chinese who toured the Del Webb development were not seniors planning their retirement but government officials and their spouses, a couple of architects and a banker. Their mission: study American suburbia with an eye toward replicating it back home.

Read more @ the Source: USATODAY.comModern suburbia not just in America anymore

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