Posts tagged with "Sustainability":

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Suburbia: The Next Generation

It's official. The suburbs are here to stay. Now we just need to figure out what to do with them. At least that's the premise of the Build A Better Burb competition that we told you about back in July, when entries submitted by architects, urban designers, planners, visionaries and students, all vying for $22,500 in prizes, were slimmed down to 23 finalists. And the winners are...

AgIsland This ambitious entry has Long Island reclaiming its agrarian roots, replacing office parks with farms. It also calls for consolidating and relocating 9 million square feet of office space along Route 110, utilizing a transit-oriented model.

Building C-Burbia Landscape designers created "an infrastructure system for short-term biomass storage and formation of long-term soil carbon reservoirs in suburban landscape."

Levittown: Increasing Density and Opportunity through the Accessory Dwellings One problem of suburban life in the NYC metro area is a lack of affordable housing options. One solution proposed here is to allow a homeowner to maximize the buildable area of his/her lot, preferably by using modular forms (instead of timber) the structure can expand and contract as needs change.

Long Division This vision of a sustainable Long Island starts with a regional plan that aims to preserve the island's aquifer, maximize transportation, and targets several underutilized downtowns for growth. The plan calls for new typologies of space combined with planned voids.

SUBHUB Transit System Transit doesn't always go where people need it to and is sometimes too big for it's own good. Instead, a more walkable and extensive micro-infrastructure that consists of re-imagined transit, a HUB at existing train stations where people and goods transfer to a smaller shuttle system, and SUBHUBs at existing public schools is envisioned for Long Island.

The winning student submission is: Upcycling 2.0 These Columbia University students target the ubiquitous suburban typologies -- single family house, strip mall, train station, street medians, big box stores, endless parking lots -- and re-appropriates them.

The winning Long Island Index People’s Choice Award, selected by the public, goes to: LIRR: Long Island Radically Rezoned Long Island becomes Living Island by re-densifying the residential fabric,  re-centering public space around train stations, and chopping up underused parking surfaces into small blocks that are a more appropriate fit for scale of the neighborhood.

While the Long Island Index originally anticipated having a first prize and multiple other winners, the jurors felt that the winning submissions were all strong and decided to honor the top designs equally.  Therefore, $20,000 will be split among the top five designs; each will receive $4,000: The student prize was $2,500. ( The “People’s Choice Award” did not have a cash prize.)

Winning entries will be on view at The Long Island Museum from October 8th-October 24th and at The Long Island Children’s Museum from October 5th-October 31st.

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Daley Reverses Course, or Wants To

Whether you want to call him a lame duck or not, Chicago Mayor Richard M Daley wants to float out of office and into Lake Michigan. Days after announcing his decision not to seek reelection the long-serving mayor hinted at a possible last hurrah: the re-reversal of the Chicago River. More than a century ago the city of Chicago undertook the laborious task of reversing its river so that waste would not flow into Lake Michigan, the city’s water supply. In shades of the Erie Canal, redirected river also facilitated trade with the west. Now with his final term coming to a close Daley, who worked to clean up both the river and Lake Michigan, might just try to put things back how they were.  Why?  To fight sinking water levels in the lake. What’s more, the EPA wants to make the river swimmable. So are you ready to take a dip in the  Chicago River?
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The Green Schools Are Coming, The Green Schools. . .

So we've got schools with green roofs sprouting in D.C., Manhattan, the Bronx, and who knows where else across this fine country of ours. (If you've got more, email us, we'd love to hear about them.) Not content simply with the mantle of "country's oldest public school," Boston Latin has decided to add a green roof as well. Designed by Studio G Architects, this one's a whopper, covering 50,000 square feet with areas dedicated to growing crops for the cafeteria and providing lab space for science classes. At that size, maybe they could even find some room up there for some mini golf or a tennis court. More renderings and details after the jump. From the school:
The oldest public school in the nation, Boston Latin’s green roof is significant in that it was conceived by a group of students who, after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, formed BLS YouthCAN (Climate Action Network), lobbied BLS administration to implement the green roof concept idea, participated in the development of designs, and are spearheading fundraising efforts for the $5 million project. Studio G Architects of Boston was so impressed by the energy and commitment of the students that they donated design services for the project. The roof’s numerous program areas will create a variety of new learning opportunities for BLS students and schools across Massachusetts. State-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, math & engineering) labs form the backbone of the design, enabling students to observe and measure data related to the school’s environmental technology, like calculating the amount of energy being generated by the PVs or the wind velocity of the turbines. A cafeteria garden, greenhouse and orchard demonstrate the accessibility of fresh local produce and help encourage healthy eating habits. A contemplative garden offers a space for repose or for language, art and music classes. Besides the inherent sustainability of training urban kids to be good stewards of the environment, the green roof will lower BLS’ carbon emissions through its planted microclimates, while PVs and turbines will offset its energy consumption. These diverse programming opportunities have inspired an entirely new sustainability curriculum, which is being piloted at BLS this fall and will be available to the other 17 YouthCAN chapters throughout Massachusetts, thereby extending the impact of this revolutionary program space to students beyond BLS.
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Showtime for school in rundown Brownsville Theater

Like many outlying parts of the city, Brownsville fell hard from its turn-of-the-century grandeur, with decaying reminders of its former greatness. Among them is the Loews Pitkin Theater, once home to the likes of Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Humphrey Bogart, and Al Joelson's last performance, as well as thousands of eager movie goers. The building has been closed since 1969—until last week, when a ground breaking was held for a new charter school and retail complex. Curbed and Brownstoner were among those in attendance, and they got some pretty amazing pictures of the building's decrepit interiors (see some after the jump). We've since been sent the above rendering by the developers, POKO Partners, who are working with Kitchen & Associates, a firm based in Collingswood, New Jersey on the renovation. According to POKO, the project will mesh what remains of the building's sumptuous Art Deco interiors with high-tech, sustainable features, creating something at once historic and cutting edge. The base of the building will house some 70,000 square feet of retail with a 90,000-square-foot, 1,100-seat elementary and middle school above, run by Ascend Learning. The project is expected to be completed in the next 18 months. "The Loews Pitkin Theater is exciting because it embodies POKO¹s core values of revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing communities through positive and responsible real estate development," POKO President and CEO Ken Olson said in a release.
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The Green Hive Looks for Its Sweet Spot in LA

Last month we learned that the Green Hive, a non-profit supporting green building and eco-friendly ideas, was kicked out of its future home in Downtown LA by the LA Community College District. So we were wondering: What are they doing now? First the backstory: A top building official with the LACCD last year signed a $190,000 contract “on behalf of” the district’s executive director of facilities planning and development, Larry Eisenberg. Eisenburg worked with The Green Hive’s two business partners, Kris Kimble and Kim Robinson, and LACCD spent over $1 million in district money to help The Green Hive design its 6,000-square-feet office space at 811 Wilshire Boulevard. But this April, the president of LACCD’s board of trustees informed Kimble and Robinson that the project was never approved. This notice came as a surprise since The Green Hive has “five binders of correspondence between it and district officials,” reported the Daily Breeze. Without the 811 Wilshire location, The Green Hive lost its business model and its corporate sponsors cannot be utilized, Kimble told The Architect’s Newspaper. And here’s what’s happening now: Kimble has been able to connect with organizations in Orange County, Sacramento and San Diego. They are interested in either hiring The Green Hive as consultants or uniting forces. The Frontier Project, a nonprofit seeking green alternatives, is interested in co-branding with the group. Kimble said The Green Hive will help them build their resources in their facility, but this potential brand partnership will not dissipate The Green Hive’s original business model, which--at the moment--has been put on hold indefinitely. “We’re just trying to stay alive,” Kimble said. Without office space, this green idea will rot even though it has over a dozen corporate sponsors and funding for eight internships. Even though the complete come-see-and-touch business model has been put on hold, Kimble said he still champions the green movement and urges those in the corporate and private sector to donate to The Green Hive Foundation so that The Green Hive could continue providing online resources.
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White House Turns Green at GSA and HUD

If last week's story on the apparent shortcomings of the Office of Urban Affairs may have shaken your hopes about the Obama administration's commitment to cities, planning, and urban policy, fear not. As we tried to point out, these things are happening, just not necessarily at the White House office whose name is synonymous with it. Case in point, two major announcements were made this week concerning sustainability, one at the GSA, the other at HUD. Yesterday, the General Services Administration announced that it had created its first Chief Greening Officer (terrible name, great news), whose job it would be to pursue sustainability initiatives throughout the agency's massive portfolio of buildings, some 350 million square feet. Taking over the new office is Eleni Reed, the former Director of Sustainability Strategies at Cushman and Wakefield, where she undertook a similar task of greening the company's vast office holdings. And on Monday, the agency submitted its sustainability plan to the White House with a target of a "zero environmental footprint," though a timeline for that is not clear. Meanwhile, over at Department of Housing and Urban Development, officials announced today that HUD would start scoring its grant applications for their compliance with LEED-ND, the U.S. Green Building Council's new neighborhood rating system. “Using the ‘LEED-ND’ green neighborhood rating system…it’s time that federal dollars stopped encouraging sprawl and started lowering the barriers to the kind of sustainable development our country needs and our communities want," Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a press release. It is not unlike one of the programs mentioned in last week's piece, about how the Office of Management and Budget is weighing its budget calculations in favor of programs that incorporate sustainable and pro-urban initiatives.
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In Riverhouse Lawsuit, Not Easy Being Green

Despite its slow gestation, Battery Park City is widely considered a resounding success today, particularly in the areas of sustainable design, which was required of many of the complex's latter day projects. Standing out among even these green stalwarts is the recently completed Riverhouse, designed by Polshek Partnership and shooting for LEED Gold, though the project now provides a bit of a cautionary tale for ambitious developers. According to the Journal, two tenants recently sued the projects' developers for $1.5 million for breach of contract and fraud because the building was deemed not as green as it had been billed. Among the issues:
[The suit] says the owners' engineers "found a deviation of 49%" over the LEED standards "in the cumulative size of holes and cracks allowing infiltration of cold air." The complaint also alleges that air temperature for heating the apartment was too low, which the owners say is a sign that the building isn't maximizing energy efficiency.
The paper goes on to suggest that the suit may simply be a means to get out of the now exorbitant $4.2 million three-bedroom apartment. The more important lesson, though, may be on the strengths and weaknesses of sustainability in general and LEED in particular. After all, Riverhouse had once been aiming for the crown of first Platinum-rated residence in the city, yet now it has settled for Gold, a sign of the difficulty in meeting such standards. And yet the findings by the plaintiff's engineers that the project is not even performing at that high level are both surprising and not -- for rarely, if ever, are these buildings tested after the fact. (Then again, who needs to test a building's efficacy when you've got Operation Green to make your case?)
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Lights Out for Chinese LED Plant in Cleveland

Marketplace had a downright enlightening segment the other day about the potential and peril of using sustainability as a tool for economic development. New York and Chicago have been doing this with some success, and now Cleveland's mayor wants in on the act. But instead of simply promoting sustainability through tax credits, development bonuses, and mandates, Frank Jackson took a clever approach, saying whomever built a LED plant in the depressed Rust Belt city would get the contract to outfit it with all its civic lighting needs. It was a brilliantly shrewd move, until it all fell apart. Listen in to find out what happened.
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One Bryant Reaches New Heights

The building's been up and running for two years, but One Bryant Park wasn't finished finished until last Thursday night, when the opening party was held in the cavernous lobby and the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Dursts with the building's LEED Platinum plaque. Jody Durst kicked things off, thanking everyone for coming, all the people who made the building possible, and the like before introducing Rick Cook, the lead designer for Cook + Fox on the penguin-shaped tower. Before a crowd of a few hundred bankers, real estate types, and other assorted Midtown workadays, Cook probably gave the largest architectural lecture of his career. Cook talked about how important it was to make the building natural and humane, how important it is that the the first thing anyone experiences when they enter the building is nature, granted in the form of wood-inlaid handles on the revolving door. There's the overhanging ceiling that draws the eye out into the park, the fossils scattered throughout the Jerusalem stone tiles on the wall. The crowd's heads swung back-and-forth from one sustainable feature to the next, mouths at once smiling and agape. (To go even deeper inside the building, check out this cool tour our pals at the Observer recently took.) Cook even quoted from Genesis before celebrating the freedom he and his team had had while working on the project: "When we were brought on, they didn't ask for big and green. Instead, the challenge was how do you design at scale in an American city today." He got about the most applause we've ever heard for an architect anywhere. Next up was Al Gore, who mentioned what a big fan he was of the mayor, also in attendance and about to speak. Gore happens to be a tenant in the building, as the offices of his private equity firm are located there, and he mentioned that they had just received their LEED Platinum for interiors certification that day, and entreating everyone to do the same while reciting the old saw about buildings eating up 30-plus percent of the world's energy. Then, the head of anchor tenant Bank of America's sustainability efforts got up for some back patting and to announce a $125,000 grant to fund 100 gardens at public schools in the city, part of a new initiative. Then came the plaque, and with the speechifying done, a champagne toast and back to our "locally sourced" mojitos.
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Recycling Finally on NYC Streets?

When was the last time you found yourself on a city street, empty water bottle or given-up-on crossword in hand? Being the conscientious New Yorker you are, no doubt you looked around for a recycling bin to deposit your refuse in. Odds are, you didn't find any nearby, as the city—so often held up as a green beacon—is woefully lacking in recycling receptacles. That could change soon, with the passage of a package of recycling-related legislation that was unveiled just before Earth Day last month. Since the launch of a public recycling pilot program in 2007, there are now 300 bins scattered across the city. The council hopes to double that number within three years of the legislation's passage and increase it to 1,000 within a decade. But the city has a long way to go, considering there are more than 25,000 "corner baskets" located in the five boroughs. Today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and some of her greener colleagues took a trip up to Astoria to check up on the recycling bins there as part of the pilot program and urge New Yorkers to lobby for more of them. “Next time you walk through your local park or down a major commercial strip, take a quick glance into one of the public waste baskets," Quinn said in a statemtn. "I guarantee you it will be brimming with newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles, and soda cans—all of which can and should be recycled. As we head into summer and New Yorkers and tourists spend more time outdoors at our world-famous public attractions, this bill will give them the to opportunity to pitch in and recycle, and make our city an even cleaner and greener place.” While the council's initial efforts may seem meager, an official said that they would be conspicuously located in high-traffic locations, such as parks and major thoroughfares, allowing a limited number of cans to meet a considerable amount of the city's recycling needs. Also, the council continues to negotiate with the Department of Sanitation, meaning there could be more bins on the way. Given that another piece of the recycling legislation is the capacity to finally recycle paint, certain hazard waste, and plastic beyond those items labeled 1 and 2—now including takeout containers and juice bottles—it seems like this is the least, though certainly not the most, the city could do.
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Lean and Green

Vice President Joe Biden announced nearly half-a-billion dollars in stimulus funding today to promote green retrofits nationwide, and the biggest winner, according to a Bloomberg administration release, is New York State, which took home $40 million of the $452 million pot. The money will go to two programs, the PACE loan program and Green Jobs-Green New York. The former provides low- or no-interest loans to property owners who buy energy efficient building materials, including insulation, solar panels, and geo-thermal systems, which are then paid back through taxes and utility payments, though the retrofits average out to 20 to 30 percent on energy usage over the life of the product. And Green Jobs-Green New York provides funding to launch training programs so there are capable workers who can build, install, and maintain this new wave of high-tech devices.
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LA Gets Gold (Energy) Star

LA is rarely thought of as the country's greenest town, what with all the traffic and sprawl, but it's doing a lot better than you think, as the News informs us. For the second year in a row, Los Angeles has been ranked number one in terms of energy efficient buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star ratings. LA made it to the top of the list by having the most rated buildings—ones that use 35 percent less energy than the average—with 293. The top five include Washington, D.C. (204), San Francisco (173), Denver (136) and Chicago (134). This does not exactly mean it is the most efficient period, given that there are so many more buildings in LA—usual suspects like Seattle and Portland are missing from the top five, as is New York, which we'd like to think is missing because it's so dense, though probably the real issue is that it's so old an inefficient to begin with. Still, no matter how you look at it, this is a step in the right direction for all of us.