Posts tagged with "Climate Change":

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International Union of Architects pledges to eliminate carbon emissions in the built environment

The International Union of Architects (UIA) has made a major commitment to do its part in the fight against climate change. At its recent World Congress in Durban, South Africa, the Union—which represents 1.3 million architects from 124 countries—universally pledged to eliminate carbon emissions from the built environment by 2050. The “2050 Imperative” was created by the non-profit Architecture 2030 and approved by the UIA on August 8th. If this pledge is met, it could have a serious effect on reducing the planet’s overall carbon emissions—70 percent of which come from cities. And since about 60 percent of the world’s building stock is expected to be built or rebuilt within the next 20 years, the UIA said it is presented with an “unprecedented opportunity” to bring carbon emissions to zero. “We recognize our responsibility to seize this unique opportunity to influence ethical, socially responsible development throughout the world: to plan and design sustainable, resilient, carbon-neutral and healthy built environments that protect and enhance natural resources and wildlife habitats, provide clean air and water, generate on-site renewable energy, and advance more livable buildings and communities,” said the declaration. To achieve this ambitious goal, the UIA agreed to the following actions:
  • Plan and design cities, towns, urban developments, new buildings, to be carbon neutral, meaning they use no more energy over the course of a year than they produce, or import, from renewable energy sources.
  • Renovate and rehabilitate existing cities, towns, urban redevelopments and buildings to be carbon neutral whilst respecting cultural and heritage values.
  • In those cases where reaching carbon neutral is not feasible or practical, plan and design cities, towns, urban developments, new buildings, and renovations to be highly efficient with the capability to produce, or import, all their energy from renewable energy sources in the future.
  • We commit to the principle of engaging in research and setting targets towards meeting the 2050 goal.
  • Advocate and promote socially responsible architecture for the community.
  • Develop and deliver equitable access to the information and tools needed to:
    • Plan and design sustainable, resilient, inclusive and low-carbon/zero carbon built environments.
    • Design no-cost/low-cost, on-site renewable energy and natural resources  systems (e.g., passive heating and cooling, water catchment and storage, solar hot water, daylighting, and natural ventilation systems)
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Rockefeller Foundation opens its "100 Resilient Cities Challenge"

The Rockefeller Foundation is now accepting applications for its “100 Resilient Cities Challenge,” which will fund $100 million worth of resiliency projects in cities around the world. According to the Foundation, winning cities will be eligible to receive funds “to hire a Chief Resilience Officer, assistance in developing a resilience strategy, access to a platform of innovative private and public sector tools to help design and implement that strategy, and membership in the 100 Resilient Cities Network.” Applications are due September 10th. More information, and applications, can be found  here. [h/t Asla.]
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How the "Climate Penalty" will make air pollution in cities even worse

Scientists' dire warnings about climate change have become as routine as they are shocking. As global temperatures shatter records and extreme weather events rip across the planet, climatologists have continued to issue study after study about how bad things are and how much worse they will get. For years, we've known that coastal cities are threatened by rising sea levels, but now there is even more bad news for those living in populated urban centers—whether they're near the sea or not. It's called the "climate penalty" and it could transform urban living. According to the New York Times, scientists are warning that a warmer planet will  mean smoggier cities. “Ozone is a key culprit,” explained the Times. “This lung-damaging compound, often formed from chemical reactions involving sunlight and automobile exhaust and other pollution, plagues major cities around the globe. As the climate heats up, it is projected that more ozone will form in polluted areas on sweltering days.” While the climate penalty could have serious health impacts for city dwellers, sparsely populated places of the globe could actually see a slight improvement in air quality; that’s because higher temperatures increases the amount of water vapor in the air, which can separate ozone particles. News of the "climate penalty" comes shortly after a report found that Beijing will be covered in smog for the next 16 years.
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Resilience and the Building Envelope: Facades+ Chicago, July 24–25

As the consequences of climate change become more apparent, “resilience” has replaced “sustainability” or “green building” as the goal of environmentally-sensitive design. The concept of resilience is particularly pertinent to the building envelope—the protective barrier between a structure’s occupants and the environment. But what, exactly, does resilience mean in the context of designing and engineering facades? This question is at the heart of the facades+ Chicago conference taking place July 24–25 at the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Over two days, leading facades specialists will explore the role of the building envelope in designing for resilience through a series of presentations and workshops. Thursday’s symposium features a roster of speakers including James Timberlake (Kieran Timberlake) and Francisco Gonzalez Pulido (JAHN), who will deliver the morning and afternoon keynotes, respectively. Mic Patterson (Enclos), Juan Moreno (JGMA), Jeff Holmes (Woods Bagot), Steve Nilles (Goettsch Partners), and Chris Stutzki (Stutzki Engineering) will also present on a range of topics, from emerging technologies to building for resilience with glass. In an afternoon panel, Matt Jezyk (Autodesk), Zach Krohn (Autodesk), Nate Miller (CASE-Inc.), and Andrew Heumann (NBBJ) will discuss the integration of design, simulation, documentation, and production. On Friday, participants choose from a series of dialog and tech workshops for in-depth exposure to special topics and technologies. Dialog workshops include “Evolution of Breathable Building Facades,” “ReVisioning of Existing Facades,” “Supple Skins: Emerging Practices in Facade Adaptation and Resilience,” and “Off the Grid: Embedded Power Generation/Net Positive.” Tech workshops offer hands-on instruction in Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari, advanced facade panelization and optimization, collaborative design with Grasshopper, and environmental analysis and facade optimization. Conference attendees will have plenty of time between symposium events and during workshop breaks to network with other participants and meet vendors. A complimentary networking lunch is scheduled for both days. Thursday evening there will be a cocktail reception at the Adler & Sullivan-designed Art Institute Stock Exchange Trading Room. For more information and to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website. Early Bird registration ends June 29.

Facades+ NYC14 Video Interviews: Resilience

Climate change and extreme weather events have made resilience a watchword among AEC professionals. In this video from our partners at Enclos, filmed at facades+ NYC in April, Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill), Edward Peck (Thornton Tomasetti), and James O'Callaghan (Eckersley O'Callaghan) talk about designing and engineering building skins to meet present and future environmental challenges. Resilience will take center stage at the facades+ Chicago conference July 24-25. Early Bird registration rates have been extended through Sunday, June 29. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
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Architecture 101> Harvard Students Tackle Policy and Design for Post-Sandy Resiliency

As the Rebuild By Design jury mulls over a winner of its resiliency-based design competition to re-imagine the East Coast in light of Hurricane Sandy, students in Harvard’s Graduate School of Design have been creating their own ways to protect against the Next Big Storm. While their studio, titled “Design and Politics,” was purely academic, it was modeled on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s official competition. The Dutchman in charge of Rebuild, Henk Ovink, oversaw the interdisciplinary teams of students, and representatives from half of Rebuild’s final ten teams served as jurors at the studio review. But where the Rebuild by Design teams re-imagined the East Coast with bold interventions and flashy renderings, the GSD students took a much more, well, academic approach. Their proposals were less flare, and a whole lot more wonk. “We actually asked the students to design nothing at the beginning,” Ovink told AN. “We divided them into groups and they had to research the [local] ecology, water systems, energy, and economy.” Needless to say, the presentations were pretty technical. Students Alison Tramba and Trevor Johnson, for example, laid out the shortfalls of the indebted National Flood Insurance Program and offered ways to get it back in the black. To do so, they plan to disincentivize waterfront living with higher insurance rates for those living along the coast, while providing subsidies to protect low-income residents from spiking rates. At the same time, they offer a host of incentives to increase the storm proofing of residences and businesses. It is not sexy stuff, but it is important. Similarly, there were tax credits for “green” infrastructure in Jersey City, a smart-grid for Long Island City,  interventions to protect the drinking-water supply in Ocean County, and a wall to reduce runoff from a sewage plant in Newark. The review was at its most fascinating—and challenging—when students grappled with the issue of relocation in the face of climate change. To Chris Donohue, there is too much residential and economic vitality along the Jersey's coast to just force folks to pack it up and head inland. To protect them—at least in the short-term—he would create barrier islands to keep the storms back. Daniel Feldman took a different approach, opening development opportunities farther from the shore to move communities away from the sea. Both of these students, though, understand that neither of these proposals are adequate given the daunting reality of rising sea levels. Because within a matter of decades, the entire Eastern seaboard could be gone. And with it will go all the dunes, berms, and seawalls that fought back for as long as they could. The question of what to do in the interim, then, is an entirely unanswerable one. But it is one that hangs about above all architects, planners, politicians, and those living on the water’s edge. As for the official Rebuild By Design competition, Ovink told AN that an announcement about a winner, or winners, will be made in the next few weeks. “It could be that there’s a certain condition that asks for another year of research, study, and planning," he said. "And it could easily be that we jump forward to a site specific implementation."
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Designed in Chicago, Made in China: Blair Kamin, Chicago designers mull Chinese urbanization

Blair Kamin convened a panel of designers at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last Wednesday for a discussion around themes explored in his recent series “Designed in Chicago, Made in China,” in which the Chicago Tribune architecture critic assessed the effects of that country’s rapid development on urbanism and design. “It’s often said that architecture is the inescapable art,” Kamin said to lead off the talk. “If that’s true then China’s urbanization is the inescapable story.” Joining Kamin were Jonathan D. Solomon, associate dean at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University; Thomas Hussey of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will; and Silas Chiow, SOM’s China director. The event was part of the Tribune's "Press Pass" series. If you haven’t read Kamin's series, you should. It examined contemporary Chinese cities and some U.S. designers thereof, giving special attention to trends in three categories: work, live, and play. Photographer John J. Kim illustrated with visuals. “In regards to street life and public space,” said SOM’s Hussey, “there can be a lack of an attitude towards it.” Long Chinese “megablocks” in Shanghai’s soaring Pudong district facilitate an urbanism not on the street, which few Americans would find walkable, but it has given rise to a kind of vertical urbanism within mixed-use towers and urban malls. Hussey pointed to SOM’s plan for a new financial district in the port area of Tianjin, China’s fourth largest city, which seeks to restore the street life present in Chinese cities before rapid modern development. And while Chinese cities are growing up, they’re also growing out. Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will reminded the audience that in the absence of property taxes, Chinese municipalities make money for new development by selling off land. That creates a ripple effect of rising property values and a pressure to sell that is devouring arable farmland. That trend’s not likely to slow down, said SOM’s Silas Chiow, since part of China’s national strategy to turn the largely manufacturing nation into a consumer country is to continue its rapid urbanization. That pressure helped produce China’s enviable mass transit systems and light rail connectivity, but also a homogeneity of design that some have called dehumanizing. Height limits, uniform standards for south-facing units and other design requirements that by themselves improve standard of living can breed sprawling, cookie-cutter developments that are easy to get lost in. Still, housing projects in China don’t carry the social stigma that they do in the U.S., commented a few panel members, in part because they’ve brought modern amenities to so many. Where China’s urbanization goes from here, however, is an open question. Images of smog-choked skylines remind some of Chicago in 1900, but the situation is not a perfect analogue. For one, the problem of carbon pollution is far more urgent now than it was then, and its sources far more potent. “Will China be the death of the urban world,” asked Kamin at the panel’s close, “or its savior?”
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Rebuild By Design> MIT's Plan to Save New Jersey and Metropolitan New York

In early April, the ten finalists in the Rebuild By Design competition unveiled their proposals to protect the Tri-state region from the next Hurricane Sandy. And in the near future, a jury will select a winner—or winners—to receive federal funding to pursue their plans. But before that final announcement is made, here is a closer look at each of the final ten proposals, beginning with the team led by MIT. The New Meadowlands plan—by MIT, ZUS, and Urbanisten—aims to protect New Jersey and Metropolitan New York from future storms, and increase development at the same time. Using existing marshlands, the team proposes Meadowpark—a new public space that can provide a natural barrier against rising sea levels and storms. This park, and specifically its berms, will mitigate storm surge and reduce flooding. Surrounding Meadowpark is Meadowband, a ring of public space and bus-rapid transit routes that separates the marshland from proposed development. "The park and the band protect existing development areas," explained the team. "In order to be worthy of federal investment, it is imperative to use land more intensively. We propose shifting land-use zoning from suburban (single story, freestanding, open-space parking around structure) to more urban."
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UN Report: The Effects of Climate Change Will Be Catastrophic

If world leaders don’t take unprecedented action to reduce greenhouse gases, nearly all aspects of human existence will be threatened by  the "severe," "pervasive," and possibly "irreversible," impacts of climate change. That’s according to a blockbuster new report by the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change, which lays out the devastating consequences of a warmer planet. The effects of climate change are already being felt, but, as the report warns, things are about to get much, much worse. That will be especially true for those living in the world's poorest countries because higher temperatures will further threaten food and water supplies. According to the report, “throughout the 21st Century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.” These changes could lead to massive destabilization and conflict across the globe. “Thirty years ago, the previous generation maybe was damaging our atmosphere [and] the earth out of ignorance,” said Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization at a recent conference in Japan. “Now ignorance is no longer a good excuse." In the United States at least, the Obama administration continues to call for action on climate change. “Read this report and you can’t deny the reality,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris this week. “Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice.” The sickness has been diagnosed over and over; but it’s still not clear if the world's most powerful have the will to treat it.
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Dangers of All-Glass Living: Report Details Heat Gain in Glass Buildings

As glass towers continue to fill-in New York City’s skyline, it’s easy to be jealous of the wealthy elites and their glossy homes in the clouds. While those floor-to-ceiling windows offer some killer views, they may also pose serious health threats to those inside the glass curtains. According to a new report by the Urban Green Council, people living in all-glass apartments could experience dangerously high temperatures during a summer blackout—similar to the one experienced after Hurricane Sandy. On the first day of a potential power outage, temperatures inside one of these sky-high fishbowls could rise to nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit. By the seventh day, they could reach triple digits (see chart below). There's more bad news—these buildings don’t fare much better in the winter. The study finds that “between two buildings that are otherwise equivalent, the one with more window area will be colder during a winter blackout.” That Slanket isn't looking so funny right about now. And for all the money tenants are paying for those floor-to-ceiling windows, it seems that they’re kind of over the views. An earlier report by the Urban Green Council found that 59 percent of window area in all-glass apartments is covered. Inside these glass houses—curtains drawn—most residents are just watching Netflix like the rest of us. But to be fair, considering all the new glass construction in New York, their view probably isn’t so much a soaring skyline, but an intimate look into their neighbor's living room across the street. Turns out it's not so lonely at the top after all.
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Michael Bloomberg Appointed UN Climate & Cities Envoy

bloomberg-speaks-01 Just one month after leaving office, Michael Bloomberg (pictured) has been appointed a United Nations special envoy for cities and climate change. According to Reuters, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Bloomberg will help “raise political will and mobilize action among cities as part of his long-term strategy to advance efforts on climate change.” The former mayor is Johannesburg, South Africa this week for the fifth biennial C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Mayors Summit. Bloomberg is the President of C40’s board, which is a “a network of the world’s megacities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” This year’s conference is focused on creating liveable and sustainable cities. (Photo: Spencer T. Tucker )
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Cooling Los Angeles, From the Roof Down

What’s the coolest place in Los Angeles? It may be right over your head. Starting in 2014, thanks to an update of the Municipal Building Code, all new or refurbished buildings will be equipped with “cool roofs.” A cool roof is built of reflective rather than absorptive material. Compared to traditional roofs, cool roofs can be as much as 50 degrees cooler on the roof surface, and can lower interior building temperatures by several degrees. Los Angeles is the first major American city to pass a cool-roof ordinance. The movement to cool Los Angeles’s roofs was sparked by a recent UCLA study, which indicated a local temperature rise of between 3.7 and 5.4 degrees by 2050. Over the same period, the number of “extreme heat” days (during which temperatures rise above 95 degrees Fahrenheit) is projected to triple in downtown Los Angeles, and quadruple in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. “We sort of looked at, well, what can we do locally to offset some of that warming,” David Fink, Director of Campaigns at advocacy organization Climate Resolve, said. “The obvious thing was to...alter much of our paved surface, and that really comes down to roofs and streets.” Climate Resolve organized a one-day conference on cool roofs in March, at which time its members began working with the mayor’s office, the City Council, and the Department of Water and Power (LADWP). LADWP agreed to expand existing incentives to offset any cost increase associated with alternative roofing materials. The Los Angeles City Council passed the update of the Municipal Building Code on December 17. Climate Resolve is working towards outfitting existing low-income apartment buildings with cool roofs. While the project is currently on hold, Fink explained, it remains a priority for the organization. “They can really be good models for other multi-family housing projects,” he said. In addition, “the folks who live in these developments can use those benefits more than just about anybody else.” Cool roofs, after all, have the potential not just to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to prevent heat-related deaths. In the meantime, Climate Resolve’s top goal for the new year is to turn the city’s attention to street level, and the benefits of non-absorptive paving. “There’s a huge opportunity there, and LA’s the perfect place for it, because of the climate, and how much paved surface there is,” Fink said. Compared to the cool-roof initiative, a “cool streets” ordinance may be harder to come by. “The city has traditionally been fairly intransigent in terms of using something new. They continue to do what they know, and what’s inexpensive—because they own these [asphalt] plants,” Fink said. Fink and his colleagues at Climate Resolve remain optimistic, however, especially since the Bureau of Street Services agreed to launch several pilot alternative-paving projects next spring. “We anticipate that LA, like [for] cool roofs, will be the first major city in the US to use cool paving,” Fink said.