Posts tagged with "Sustainability":

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Paris Trots Out Black Sheep as a Lawnmower Alternative

Since Wednesday, four black ewes have a new home, and new jobs as groundskeepers on a small patch of municipal land in Paris. Fenced in on a half-acre lawn in front of the city’s archives building in the 19th Arrondissement, the New York Times reported that the sheep are part of a new “eco-grazing” program which aims to cut out loud, gas-guzzling lawnmowers and toxic herbicides in favor of a more agrarian solution. If all goes well at the archives, city officials have plans to bring more mouton to pastures across Paris. Their hilly home on the eastern edge of the city is a near perfect paddock for the animals, Marcel Collet, the farmer overseeing the sheep, assured the Times. The special two-foot-tall sheep, known as Ouessant, were brought from the Breton coast and selected for the hardiness and diminutive size. Contained by a three foot electric fence and monitored by a lone guard, the sheep face few threats aside from domestic dogs and the hazard of tipping over (if a sheep falls, someone needs to be there to flip it back over). “Otherwise, it risks smothering itself,”  archives director Angés Masson quipped to the Times. While she is happy with her new employees, they weren’t exactly what she was hoping for, telling the Times that, “Myself, I wanted a donkey.” Others also have their doubts about the sheep, as some worry that they may endanger the local biodiversity. Four distinct types of orchids have been found on the sheep’s new pasture, but scientists will stand by to monitor the interaction between the animals and plant life. The sheep are part of a larger greening effort by Mayor Betrand Delanoë, who has brought bike- and car-sharing programs, bike and bus lanes, and pedestrian pathways to the city since being elected in 2001. At a mere $335 for the four, the sheep provide both a sustainable and affordable solution to Paris landscaping needs.
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Empire Stores in DUMBO Might Finally Get a Make-Over

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation issued an RFP last week seeking qualified developers to revamp the post-Civil War Empire Stores warehouse in DUMBO, according to Crain's. The adaptive reuse project, originally drafted in 2002, has been postponed several times over the last decade due to a lack of developers willing to address the building’s “scary structural issues.” Proposals, which are due on December 10th, could add up to 70,000 square feet and two additional stories to the existing buildings. Projects must be community friendly and address design challenges at the intersection of preservation and sustainability.
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Forest Retreat: Studio Gang Groundbreaking in Kalamazoo

Studio Gang, which recently kicked off the first solo exhibition of their work at the Art Institute of Chicago, will celebrate another opening event next month: the architects’ Arcus Center at Kalamazoo College will ceremoniously break ground October 9. Gently curving wood walls demarcate a 10,000-square-foot space for social justice leadership development in the woods. The structure uses local white cedar, engaging its environment while transparent façade elements honor the building’s goal to facilitate conversation. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the project will source sustainably harvested wood for its low-impact, highly insulating structure. A curvilinear floor plan funnels activity from the building’s three wings into a communal meeting space. Though the corridors grow out from the central area and allow for separate functions in the institutional building, large windows at each terminus accentuate a feeling of interconnection with generous sightlines.
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Design Trust Brings the Urban Farm to New York's Planning Table

New York City is home to over 700 food-producing farms and gardens spread over 50 acres of reclaimed lots, rooftops, schoolyards, and public housing grounds. This week at a launch and press event, the Design Trust for Public Space (in partnership with the Brooklyn-based non-profit community farming project Added Value) debuted the most comprehensive survey yet of the city's urban agricultural infrastructure, Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture in New York City. Currently, the non-profit organizations, commercial entities, institutions, and community members who operate urban farms lack a reliable means to obtain resources such as land, soil, compost, and funding.  Five Borough Farm lays out a roadmap for the integration and expansion of New York’s urban farms, with analysis of present conditions, metrics that establish a common framework for evaluating success and determining strategies, and policy recommendations that would make agriculture integral to city planning. Five Borough Farm describes the health, social, economic, and ecological benefits of urban farms. Distributing food to under-served communities and providing nutritional education supports public health. By developing unused land, farms and gardens fill gaps in the streetscape and create space for community gathering and organizing. Farmers are able to sell their food in farmer’s markets, while education and stewardship programs empower youth and provide job training. Gardens can act as filters for wastewater and composted food waste while working to detoxify soil and educating communities about sustainability. The study builds on New York’s existing urban agriculture initiatives, calling for a citywide interagency task force that would coordinate policy and procedures for organizations that manage farms and to allocate resources and land to those organizations. At the launch event, Design Trust Executive Director Susan Chin described the need for this body to engage with communities in the planning and operation of urban farms: “We need to select, digest, upload, and disseminate information and data on farms to the community.” The metrics established in Five Borough Farm describe agricultural production, biodiversity, employment, and impact on health, allowing communities to monitor their progress and receive necessary support. Raymond Figueroa, a program director at South Bronx-based Friends of Brook Park, trains youths in urban agricultural production. “The real power of urban agriculture is the promotion of healthy living,” Figueroa explained, pointing to precedents demonstrating how such initiatives can be effective. During the Great Depression, for example, Relief Gardens provided social stability and well-needed food. “Communities can actively engage in the cultivation of land—the fight we have is alerting communities to the possibilities they have,” Figueroa said. So what's the next step? Phase two of the project will bring in New York City government to help locate 100 publicly-owned sites with the potential for food production. Columbia University’s Urban Design Lab will partner with the Design Trust in identifying under-served areas, growing conditions, and suitability of land. The trust hopes to formalize the city’s support by initiating new programs and subsidies, while partnering with departments that are not directly responsible for urban agriculture, like Waste Management.
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Dlandstudio Proposes Plastics Recycling Center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Mission: Small Business, Chase bank's new program to promote new small businesses allows residents to vote for their local small businesses to be considered for a hefty $250,000 grant. Among the countless entries for the program, Brooklyn-based dlandstudio's proposal for a new plastics recycling center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has already received 200 votes. Founded by Susannah Drake in 2005, dlandstudio has long been concerned with sustainability and the environment including a proposal for a Sponge Park along the Gowanus Canal with a permeable landscape to capture stormwater runoff and other industrial waste discharged by flooded pipes in the low-lying neighborhood. This green infrastructure alternative to costly pipes was approved by New York City's Design Commission in January. The new recycling center will accept local plastic waste to be repurposed for new green infrastructure systems similar to the Sponge Park that could be be implemented in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The proposition is expected to enhance manufacturing, create new jobs, and manage significant waste streams. If appointed, proceeds from the Mission: Small Business grant will be used for research and execution of the project.
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Tracking the Health of New York's Rivers One Raindrop at a Time

Courtesy Riverkeeper
In May 2011, a shocking 80 percent of the 59 water samples taken from various sites in the Hudson River were determined to be unacceptable by the Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving water quality on the Hudson River. What makes water “unacceptable”? Sampled sites are tested for enterococcus, a human pathogen often found in sewage that can potentially cause health problems like Meningitis and urinary tract infection. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Enterococcus count standards vary for different sites (for beaches, state governments discourage swimming if the count is over 35 colony forming units per 100ml). As for the part of Hudson River bordering New York City, an enterococcus count greater than 104 units per 100mL is considered "unacceptable." And, quite frankly, gross. This year, according to Riverkeeper's latest water quality report from May, only 12 percent of the sampling sites were unacceptable and 7 percent were diagnosed with possible risk. The enterococcus count along the East River at 23rd Street was reported to be a mere 10 units per 100ml. What has caused the seemingly huge increase in water quality around New York City? It appears this year's gains were a meteorological fluke caused by differences in weather over the two years. Frequent rainy weather during May 2011 caused stormwater to overwhelm the city's sewer system creating a condition known as Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). The excess rainwater present during a CSO causes raw sewage to be discharged into nearby bodies of water. This year, May was relatively dry, leaving the sewer systems intact and the enterococcus levels low. In effort to avoid such leakages caused by stormwater, a new plan for gray and green infrastructure with over $5 billion in funding was implemented in April, 2012. The plan calls for green and blue roofs to capture and store stormwater, allowing it to slowly seep into the sewers rather than overwhelming them all at once. Specially-designed plant beds, rain gardens, and tree pits with engineered soil and water-loving plants also hold water, filtering it and absorbing pollutants. While New York dodged a sewage-filled bullet this year, this initiative promoting innovative rainwater management infrastructure could help achieve sustained water quality increases in years to come.
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Mayor's Challenge Seeks the Next Big Idea for City Life

With nine million dollars total in prizes up for grabs, The Mayor’s Challenge simply asks for innovations in city life, a subject that’s been a growing concern for countless architects, planners, and governments worldwide. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the competition last week calling for individual designers and teams to address urban challenges from sustainability to citizen empowerment. "Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources," Bloomberg said in a statement. "Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people's lives and move America forward." Mayors of cities with a population above 30,000 people—about 1,300 across the country according to the 2010 census—are invited to participate as team leaders. Entries will be theoretical, but will be judged for their vision, ease of implementation, potential for impact, and replicability in other cities. Teams are encouraged to present new and radical ideas relevant to multiple cities addressing social or economic problems, improving customer service, improving accountability, or that help governments run more efficiently. But what ideas are big enough to change cities across the country? The challenge points to PlaNYC, an initiative launched by the Bloomberg administration in 2007, calling in part for transforming 4,000 acres of New York City land into public space to provide every New Yorker with a park within a ten-minutes walk from their homes; Chicago's 311 hub, implemented in 1999, also helped improve city life by combining multiple city services and access points in one easy-to-reach location, providing efficient customer service and encouraging public engagement. From the contesting cities, twenty finalists will be chosen to attend an Ideas Camp and among them five will be named national winners, with one $5 million grand prize and four $1 million prizes to help implement the ideas. All qualified entrants are required to RSVP by July 16th, 2012 and apply by September 14th,2012.
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What is Green, Anyway? Join Us for an Online Conversation on Sustainability

Join us for a live Facebook discussion, "What Is Green, Anyway?" Wednesday, April 18 12:00 p.m. PST, 3:00 p.m. EST You're invited to talk about sustainability with AN's West Coast Editor Sam Lubell, Angela Brooks, partner at Brooks + Scarpa, and John Stein, president of Kirei, a green materials company. The open discussion will cover what exactly makes a project green, how effective green standards are, how sustainability is driving design (and whether it should), and where green design is heading. The best part is that the questions will be all yours, answered live by our participants. To participate in "What Is Green, Anyway?," simply visit the AN Blog tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. eastern. We'll publish a post to the AN Blog before the event and you can join the discussion and ask questions of the experts live over Facebook Live Stream. You can even share your comments with your Facebook friends directly. See you Wednesday! Participants: Angela Brooks, principal, Brooks + Scarpa: A recognized leader in sustainable design and construction, Angela is responsible for overall project management and supervision of the firm’s designers and staff. She has served as Project Architect and consultant on buildings which range in scope from public and institutional projects, to mixed-use projects, single- and multifamily housing. John Stein, president, Kirei: After seeing a small sample of a new eco-friendly design material, John decided to take his experience in mainstream marketing to the green building world. His company, Kirei, grew out of that first chance encounter, and has become a leading provider of sustainable design materials to the architecture, design, and fabrication communities.
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Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction 2012

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction in Zurich, Switzerland has announced the winners of its 2012 Global Holcim Awards and the Holcim Innovation Prizes. Regional prize winners (15 for Global Awards and 53 for Innovation Prizes) were examined, and from them 3 Global Awards and 3 Innovation Prizes were handed out to projects that address environmental performance, social responsibility, and economic efficiency. Each of the winning projects are innovative, future-oriented, and usually have a social or cultural component as a key part of their program.  This year's jury for the Global Awards was headed by TEN Arquitectos' Enrique Norton and included critic Aaron Betsky and architect Mario Botta. The Innovation Prize Jury was led by architect Harry Gugger and included economists and engineers. Global Holcim Awards 2012 Gold Secondary school with passive ventilation system, Diébédo Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture Gando, Burkina Faso Silver Urban remediation and civic infrastructure hub, Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, Urban Think Tank São Paulo, Brazil Bronze Urban renewal and swimming-pool precinct, Tim Edler, realities united, Jan Edler, realities united, Denise Dih, DODK Holcim Innovation Awards 2012 1st Prize High-efficiency concrete formwork technology, Matthias Kohler, Gramazio & Kohler, Architektur und Digitale Fabrikation – ETH Zurich, Fabio Gramazio, Silvan Oesterle and Axel Vansteenkiste, Gramazio & Kohler, Architektur und Digitale Fabrikation – ETH Zurich Zurich, Switzerland 2nd Prize Low-cost apartments incorporating smart materials, Frank Barkow, Barkow Leibinger Architects, Prof. Regine Leibinger, Barkow Leibinger Architects and Technische Universität Berlin, Institut für Architektur, Fachgebiet Baukonstruktion und Entwerfen, Prof. Dr. sc. techn. Mike Schlaich, Technische Universität Berlin,Institut für Bauingenieurwesen, Fachgebiet Entwerfen und Konstruieren - Massivbau, Germany; Matthias, Schuler, TRANSSOLAR Energietechnik Hamburg, Germany 3rd Prize Efficient fabrication system for geometrically complex building elements, Povilas Cepaitis, AA School of Architecture, Luis Enrique, Diego Ordoñez and Carlos Piles, AA School of Architecture London, UK Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow. All images courtesy Holcim Foundation. A complete list of finalists can be seen here.
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ONE Lab: Summer Session on Future Cities 2012

ONE Lab, New York School for Design + Science is a non-profit research and education collaborative that plans to begin year-round programming when the historic renovation of Building 128 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is complete in 2014. This innovative, interdisciplinary school currently operates out of the Metropolitan Exchange, a professional cooperative at 33 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.  The co-chairs, Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim of urban ecology thinktank Terreform ONE, seek to promote "research and education at the intersection of design and science." The ONE Lab Summer Session 2012 on Future Cities, an annual summer program, will take place July 9th through August 3rd and brings together innovators across design and technology to explore the relationship of the fields and what impacts they can have on our cities. Special attention will be paid to ecology with radical solutions the goal. Programming will include three parts: a design studio, a series of seminars, and workshops. Previous summer sessions have focused on bio-design (2011), and urban farming (2009 and 2010). The design studio will focus on the project's mission to "establish new forms of knowledge and new processes of practice at the interface of design, technology, engineering and biology." New York serves as the laboratory, and over 100 hours of design studies will explore the possibilities of self-sufficiency in New York. The seminar is comprised of 40 hours of TED style talks delivered by experts from the fields of architecture, urban design, biology, physics, and art, including Dr. Dickson D. Despommier, Vito Acconci, Natalie Jeremijenko, Marc Forens and Graham Hill, the founder of world renowned media outlet Treehugger. Four workshops will teach participants processes of biotechnology (including technologies such as genetic engineering, tissue culture, and cloning), growing materials, grafting trees and plants, scripting and computational modeling for controlled growth. The program is open to all college level students and post graduate professionals interested in design and its relationship to science and technology. For information on how to apply to ONE Lab: Summer Session on Future Cities 2012, or to register for the design studio, seminars, or workshops, please visit www.onelab.org. Students attending the seminars series only do not need to apply. Deadline: May 15, 2012.
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Diamond studded Eco-Developer?

Having successfully covered the world (or at least all 11 outposts of the global Gagosian empire) in colorful spots, Damien Hirst is turning his attention to architectural matters. The artist is planning to build more than 500 homes on the land he owns in Devon, England as part of a broader expansion of the glam seaside resort town of Ilfracombe. Mike Rundell of London-based MRJ Rundell+Associates is putting his undergrad degree in fine art to good use and working with Hirst on the project. “He has a horror of building anonymous, lifeless buildings,” said Rundell of his artist client. Pressed for details, Rundell described the houses as modern and possibly incorporating eco-friendly touches such as photovoltaic panels and wind turbines nestled in the roofs. Pickled sharks or spin art not included.
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Chicago Picks Bike-Sharing Vendor

Big changes are coming to Chicago's streets, as AN has reported. One of the most visible, the city's planned bike-sharing system, just took a major step forward with the selection of a vendor, Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share and Public Bike System. The vendor will supply 3000 bikes and 300 solar powered charging stations this summer, according to the Chicago Tribune. The number will be upped to 5000 bikes and 500 stations by 2014. The Alta/Public partnership operates bike-sharing systems in London, Melbourne, Boston, Minneapolis, Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Montreal among other cities.