The town of Benson in southeastern Arizona is set to acquire another Tuscan-style housing development, golf courses and all, made possible in the wake of the Trump administration's repeal of the 2015 “Waters of the U.S” act. The new development would be within arm’s reach of the San Pedro River, a body of water vital to the state’s desert ecosystem, and currently threatened by rising temperatures and a lowering water table. Mike Reinbold is the man behind this master plan, a lead developer at El Dorado Benson LLC. While he insists that the 12,000-acre, 28,000-home development will have no effect on the region’s water supply, environmental groups are poised to sue. Benson currently has a population of about 5,000 people, sprinkled around a landscape of open, rolling hills and brush on the banks of the San Pedro. The proposed development, called Villages at Vigneto, promises to “dredge-and-fill” the site to reach a population target of 70,000. Yet the most potentially effective piece of legislation to block construction is set to be obsolete as early as January 2020. Reinbold is optimistic about the repeal, telling The Arizona Republic that, “If there's no 'Waters of the U.S.,' by default, you don't need a permit. Thereby, the permit is no longer needed and is no longer valid. It gets put on a shelf.” El Dorado Benson has amassed a coalition to fight for his interests, a politically connected group that includes Vice Mayor Joe Konrad, who spoke at a news conference for the newly organized Southwestern Communities Coalition. “We’re here to join together as a united force, to push back against the outsiders, who will pretty much stop at nothing to impose their agenda upon us. We will stand against the evil that masquerades as environmental activism.” However, local environmentalists are ready for a fight, as they have been working to block development in this particular community since 2006 when a permit was first acquired by a previous developer. Robin Silver, cofounder of Tucson’s Center for Biological Diversity, commented on the loosening of the Clean Water Act, saying, “Under the guise of private property rights, they think that they can go ahead and destroy public treasure. We’re losing the San Pedro, and there’s no federal advocacy to help us.” Called ‘The Center’ for short, it is just one group involved in the battle. Other organizations including the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance, the Sierra Club, the Tucson and Maricopa Audubon Society, and the Cascabel Conservation Association have pledged their support to conserve the public lands and groundwater supply. While these organizations have been labeled “fearmonger activists” by Konrad, the resounding voice is simply summed up by Silver: “When you’ve got a gigantic development, you have to look at all of the effects.”
Posts tagged with "Water Conservation":
Thanks in no small part to the local AEC industry, Los Angeles is a leader in sustainability in several areas, notably green building. But there is still room for improvement, said Matt Petersen, former president and CEO of Global Green USA. Petersen would know: he's the city's first Chief Sustainability Officer, appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as part of a broader administrative overhaul. "The mandate the mayor gave me was to build on the great things Los Angeles is already doing, and to put forward a vision for sustainability in the city," explained Petersen. Petersen, who will represent the city at Facades+ LA in early February, has spent the last year preparing Los Angeles' first ever comprehensive sustainability plan. "We're headed toward the finish line as we speak," said Petersen, who expects to deliver the plan to the mayor's office within the next several weeks. "It's been an extensive process of engagement both internally and externally." Water conservation is one of Petersen's top concerns, especially in light of the ongoing drought. In an executive directive released last year, Mayor Garcetti set the ambitious goal of reducing water usage by 20 percent. "The biggest source of water use is outdoor landscaping," noted Petersen. "How do we get Angelenos to replace ornamental lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping?" Architects and landscape architects can play a critical role in encouraging the shift, he said. "Landscape architects have a rich history [of working with drought-tolerant landscaping] in Los Angeles—they've done a lot already." As for non-residential projects, said Petersen, "we're really thinking about how to reuse water or divert it before it goes into a storm drain. How do we start to break from the tradition of moving water as quickly as possible from the building site?" Energy efficiency is another area in which Petersen's priorities overlap with AEC industry goals. "Los Angeles was a little behind for about a decade, because the utility was historically not investing in energy efficiency," admitted Petersen. His office has set a goal that the utility meets 15 percent of its needs through efficiency measures—the highest such standard in the country. On the positive side, Los Angeles already boasts both more Energy Star buildings and more installed solar than any other city. "Can we build on our leadership and expand the number of LEED-certified buildings, not just to have plaques on the wall, but to encourage an integrated design process?" asked Petersen. "An integrated design process, when done right, can deliver so many benefits. We hope that the design and construction community helps us [get there]." To hear more from Petersen, join the movers and shakers of high performance building envelope design and construction at Facades+ LA. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
The Los Angeles Aqueduct turned 100 on November 5, and the city has been partying hard. In a performance-art piece designed by Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studios, 100 mules plus their handlers walked along the 240 miles of the aqueduct from the Eastern Sierras to its terminus at The Cascades. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County staged a special exhibit to honor the centennial. And Department of Water and Power (LADWP) employees reenacted the opening of the Cascades’ spill gates, accompanied by descendants of Los Angeles Aqueduct Engineer William Mulholland. The LADWP also unveiled a more lasting tribute to the aqueduct and Mulholland. The Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden, built around the existing Mulholland Fountain in Griffith Park, was the brainchild of staff in the LADWP operations and maintenance office. According to Richard Harasick, Manager of Operations and Maintenance at LADWP, the project started with a plan to replaster and rededicate the fountain. “We were working on that, spending time [at Mulholland Fountain], and we thought: maybe we can do this one better,” he explained. Harasick and his staff came up with the idea for the garden as an interpretive monument to the aqueduct. The Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden, Harasick said, has a two-fold purpose. First, it memorializes the aqueduct by recreating its journey from the northeast. A walking path beginning in the far corner of the garden mimics the course of the aqueduct. To one side of the path, a trapezoidal concrete curb, embedded with blue glass to evoke running, recalls the shape of the original aqueduct channels. Elements along the path, including mile markers and signs for the cities through which the aqueduct travels, are built of Corten steel, metal flanges, and other materials used by the LADWP in its water projects. The path terminates at a replica of The Cascades, which in turn leads to the Mulholland Memorial Compass, a concrete circle ten feet in diameter, with aluminum letters forming Mulholland’s famous declaration: “There it is. Take it!” Near the compass is a section of the original aqueduct pipe, large enough for visitors to stand in or climb through. “We were strategic with where we placed the pipe,” Harasick said. “The idea is that when you stand in the pipe, behind you is the remembrance of Mulholland. Looking forward, you see what he accomplished. Looking forward is what we will continue to do in the future with bringing water to Los Angeles.” The garden, which was planned by Pamela Burton & Company in cooperation with the LADWP, also demonstrates water-wise landscaping. The LADWP planted the garden with approximately 20 different climate-appropriate species, including Red Marin Agave, Red Yucca, Waverly Sage, and California Native Sedge. In the process, it removed 75 percent of the grass around Mullholland Fountain, thus significantly reducing the garden’s water needs. Harasick hopes that the combination of the garden’s message about the source of their water and the drought-tolerant landscaping will inspire visitors to practice conservation at home.
After the release of the new Organic Collection, designed by Philippe Starck for Axor/Hansgrohe, AN sat down with the head of the brand to talk about working with the designer, the technology behind the product, and Grohe's formula for success. How did Axor/Hansgrohe start working with Philippe Starck? We started working with Philippe Starck in 1998 and it has always been a special relationship. I was very lucky because I followed my mother to the French part of Switzerland, so I speak both German and French. Not only does it help [Philippe and I] communicate [in French] but language is also culture. You think in a different way when speaking French versus German simply because of the structure of the language. How long did it take to complete the project? The Organic collection was a three-and-a-half year project. Many designers think [that pace] is too slow but it's a highly industrial product and we had a lot invested—not just financially but in the technology. The new spray cartridge, for example, took quite some work. It's much more than just a nice shape. We are now testing some new technology but we must test longer than we would for products with existing technology. [More testing means] you get a higher level of assuredness that the whole 'shebang' will work. Please speak to the technology behind the water efficiency of the Organic Collection. Well, if you really look for potential to save water its on the shower side. It's where we lose the most. But we use various [water saving] technologies in both the Axor and Hansgrohe brands. In fact, we've started to study the transparency of efficiency and consumption [related to water use]. The other thing we consider is the perception of water. When you bring it away from being a commodity and bring it closer to nature through studies of laminarity, you can see those results in our waterfall technology for Axor's Massaud Collection. Transparent water is less comfortable because it splatters more, so you have to bring down the volume, but its a fine line and we try to address this [with our products]. Another aspect of this project is the optical perfection of water. On the mixer side, the flow rate [for the Organic Collection] is at .9 gallons per minute [standard flow rates are around 2 gallons per minute]. We can't control installation of the [building's water] system but we do our best to accommodate. It's not as easy to regulate warm water, but as you regulate the quantity that becomes easier. It's the same reason we have a shower spray, because you feel the temperature differently [with changes in spray volume]. The shape of the collection is very unique. When you do something very different, only three to five percent of people will like it and the bathroom is a conservative [place]. But if you change the archetype [people] can access it easier. What's the greatest success of the collection? The success of the Collection is a veritable cocktail of elements. You can have the best ingredients but if you mess up while you're cooking its gone. But [the Organic Collection] has this incredible shape and I have to tip my hat to Philippe. He really proves that he's on top of things consistently. This is a very new shape and the majority of people like it from the first view. You need that attraction when you want to change the habits of people. We try to put a lot of values into our products and I think this perception comes through in discussion, one in particular that I had recently with Fabio Novembre. We've used flow restrictive [flow] technology for 20 years [so there is lots of added value] but it always comes down to that last cent. [The] people [working on the project] don't care what happens after. He said, "You can impress rich people with beauty only." And he's right but you have to like the product first. And [based on the initial reception], for that we must thank Philippe.