Increased Density could mean reduced emissions

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Last week the NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL released a report titled DRIVING AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: THE EFFECTS OF COMPACT DEVELOPMENT ON MOTORIZED TRAVEL, ENERGY USE, AND CO2 EMISSIONS stating that

Increasing population and employment density in metropolitan areas could reduce vehicle travel, energy use, and CO2 emissions from less than 1 percent up to 11 percent by 2050 compared to a base case for household vehicle usage……

The report continues to give examples of if 75% of all new and replacement housing units were developed at twice the density and people drive 25% less then then CO2 emissions would be reduced by 7-8% by 2030, 8-11% by 2050. However if only 25% of housing was developed at twice the density and drove 12% less then the reduction in CO2 would only be 1% by 2030 and 1.7% by 2050.

The report also outlined the obstacles with trying achieve 75% dwellings at twice the denisty including local growth, local zoning regulations, concerns about congestion and home values.

The report also stated that

Government policies to support more compact, mixed-use development should be encouraged, the report says. The nation is likely to set ambitious goals to address climate change and, given the large contribution of the transportation sector to greenhouse gas emissions, changes in land use may have to be part of the effort.  If so, land use changes should be implemented soon, because current development patterns will take decades to reverse

For more information about the report go to the NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL website.

SOURCE: NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL

IMAGE SOURCE: Flickr austrini (suburbia)  Flickr DrPleishner (city)

2009 Open Architecture Competition winners announced

Teton School

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2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Challenge Winner

Teton Valley Community School Location: Victor, Idaho, USA Designed by: Section Eight [design]

The 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom invited the global design and construction community to collaborate with primary and secondary school teachers and students to create smarter, safer, and more sustainable learning environments.

The Teton Valley Community School (TVCS) is a non-profit independent school located in Victor, Idaho. At the base of the Teton Mountain range, Victor is 6,200 feet above sea level and is a quickly developing alpine area. The town’s eclectic mix of pioneer families and new residents from around the globe exemplify Victor’s unique history and diversity.

TVCS’s master plan is to eventually build five of the proposed classroom buildings. The design allows for flexibility in their spacing and construction. The classroom buildings can be either site built or prefabricated in two modules that can be shipped to the site. The design objectives were to create flexible spatial configurations, reduce the school’s ecological footprint, and create a strong connection to the outdoors in response to the mountain climate.

Excepting the vegetable garden areas, the landscaping will incorporate native, drought resistant vegetation to reduce required irrigation. Zen rock gardens will be created using stones removed from the building sites during excavation. Perviousness will be promoted on the site by the use of pavers with grass and sand infill for the parking and pathway areas. Play areas will utilize the natural site features like trees, rocks, and berms.

Continue reading 2009 Open Architecture Competition winners announced

Local environment groups get a $5million boost – Australia

Landcare and Coastcare community groups in Australia are eligible to receive grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 for local projects under a new $5 million program. Groups will be able to apply online for projects including coastal rehabilitation, sustainable farming, tree planting, dune rehabilitation and other projects that improve and rehabilitate the landscape.

SOURCE: Australian Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries

NY landfill parks could be open to the public next spring

New York’s two landfill parks at Fountain Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue could be reclassified as safe for public access by next spring according to a spokesperson from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The parks are currently closed as they are classified as a “significant threat to the public health or environment”.

The parks have undergone a transformation since 2004 when the first seeds were planted on the safety soil cap of the two landfill sites which were closed in 1985. Leslie Sauer, a founder of Andropogon Associates divided the parks into islands of different ecological niches with plantings representing different areas of the region with up 93% of the planting surviving.

The local residents envision various activities in the sites such as bicycle riding, performances in an amphitheater and fishing. The project has cost $200 million including the capping and planting of 33,000 shrubs and trees.

Information SOURCE: New York Times

Planting the landscape from 400 years ago

A stylised native woodland is being planted at Schwartz Plaza at New York University by George Reis, N.Y.U.’s supervisor of sustainable landscapes. The Manhatta project inspired Reis to propose the landscape using plants from before settlement of Manhattan. The design was completed by Darrell Morrison after Reis won the funds from the class of 2008 legacy fund. Recently  Reis and Morrison, along with the help of some students, began planting 2,000 plants that were all thriving on Manhattan from the 1600’s.

SOURCE: New York Times

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