Just another Blog.scad.edu weblog
Posted on June 16th, 2009 by mhepne20.
First of all, I am really excited to have the summer off from school. Second, I am kind of getting worried (usual for me) about my thesis project. I am especially interested in urban redevelopment and housing projects. I am interested in redevelopment, rather than building a new city. Debating using brownfields as a potential site. My biggest concern right now is finding some way to make this project unique. I have been perusing blogs, library articles, and websites, and most of the housing developments I see are very similar in design and/or concept. I think even though I’m not enrolled in classes until Fall, I will probably still be busy researching this summer. Any thoughts or ideas of innovative or especially successful housing projects would be much appreciated!
Posted on May 28th, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
In order to create a cleaner and more sustainable environment for the world’s cities, parks must be utilized as the natural solution to creating environmentally friendly cities. Since over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, it is becoming more and more necessary to create urban parks and public spaces. Over the last five years, government polices have helped halt the decline of green spaces all over the world, and worldwide initiatives are coming into action to increase the number. This is in large part due to the fact that the sustainability movement is visible almost everywhere now.
Politicians and everyday people now understand that in order to create sustainable communities, good quality parks and open spaces are necessary to provide environmental functions, as well as community enhancing functions. IN USA Today, Kathy Madden, vice president of the Project for Public Spaces in New York said that it is also due to the fact that “People are moving back into the cities and finding that the parks need help, and they’re getting very involved in their parks,” she says. Many claim that this is a political, economic, and demographic movement in addition to an ecological one.
Parks in cities have a big impact on the environment. Urban parks provide additional flood storage capacity, ecological connectivity, help offset the urban heat island effect, remove ozone and other pollutants from the air, reduce runoff into sewers, and can be a visual communicator of alternative recreational options that are low-impact on the environment. Projects, such as the Thames Gateway are even taking into account the prediction of global warming and rising water levels around them. According to Stephanie Pincetl, a researcher at UCLA and the U.S. Forest Service, “integrating nature into urban fabric reduces pollution and absorbs runoff. Providing more green spaces in park-poor areas makes a real difference. ”
If a park truly goes above and beyond, it can even help fix problems that are existing on a site or in a city. Examples of this include renovating Brownfield sites into usable open space, showcasing and utilizing alternative energy principles such as hydrokinetic turbines, and renewing/regenerating creeks and rivers.
Park Design Best Management Practices
Storm Water Management
Andrew Tucker of the London Climate Change Partnership says that “Considering the importance of a holistic approach to environmental sustainability planning in which green spaces are integral to the sustainable infrastructure of the whole city” is the only way to create “green” cities. If we are going to fight global warming and make our cities sustainable, it is imperative that we include new ideas about parks in our solutions.
Parks also encourage people to walk and exercise, attract and retain residents, and promote community pride. According to Pincetl, there is also a disparity between rich and poor neighborhoods and different races. In areas of LA that are mostly white, there is 31.8 acres of park space for every 1,00 people, compared to only 1.7 acres in predominately African American neighborhoods and only 0.6 acres in Latino neighborhoods. LA has actually started offering competitive grants for park space based on neighborhoods having less than 3 acres of park space per 1,000 residents as well as less than 80% of the average household income for the city. Pincetl also states that communities lacking parks also suffer for high crime, unemployment, poverty, obesity, and asthma.
One of the things that is most evident in today’s society is that sustainable design is good for business. Businesses everywhere are trying to market themselves as “green” companies. Even the catch phrase “eco” can mean both economic and ecological. City parks also increase the economy based on increased property values and thus generate more property taxes, frequently increase tourism, stimulate the economy due to extra events that occur in the spaces, such and concerts and festivals. The most successful sustainable parks that have been developed encourage and have resulted in social and economic gain, increased jobs, provide an oasis from the hot urban built context, enhance permeability of the city, and provide an opportunity for key ideas of that city to be communicated.
Chicago Park District
The Chicago Park District consists of over 500 parks stretching over 7500 acres throughout the city and is committed to sustainability (http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com). The district is also committed to education and outreach for the community. One of the programs that it is promoting is community gardens within their parks as an attempt to create community interaction. LEED certification is also required for all new facilities within parks. The city has also established a Planning and Development Department to be in charge of incorporating Green design in their urban design schemes.
Seattle‘s Parks and Recreation Department
This organization has attempted to incorporate sustainable building practices for buildings into landscape focused activities. In 2000, Seattle authorized $198 million in park development and acquisition as part of the “ProParks” levy. Since there is no LEED applicable to parks, the Seattle Parks and Recreation developed is own system to sustainability goals. The organization has designed a checklist scorecard of ten sustainable project goals that is reviewed at the completion of each project. Seattle Parks has developed a department-wide Environmental Management System (EMS) that set division-level goals for rainwater harvest, impervious surface reduction, and engagement of underserved communities in project design decisions. Parks have been designed with variety encouraged as well as differing levels of irrigation depending on the usage of the site. Park features are also designed to include rainwater harvesting techniques, revenue generating potential, and features for racial/ethnic minorities. (http://www.pwmag.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=770&articleID=265478).
Po Kong Village
Hong Kong’s first low carbon urban park, covering over 94,000 square meters, is going to be full of various activities and features. The sustainable features will be utilized throughout the buildings and the entire site. The park is integrating wind turbines, solar power for electricity and hot water, as well as natural lighting and ventilation. The park is also optimizing water reuse, ground water recharge, storm water runoff, and reducing energy use.
In November 2007, the Thames Gateway Delivery Plan announced a plan to create 225,000 new jobs, improve the quality of life for residents of the Gateway, provide 160,000 good quality homes at all levels of affordability for existing and new communities, reviving town centers, improving public services and “providing a better environment through the Thames Gateway Parklands program, and establish the Gateway as an eco-region, ensuring that development is in keeping with our ambition for carbon reduction and sustainable regeneration” (http://www.communities.gov.uk/thamesgateway/). The plan is proposing the creation of about 222,000 square meters, stretching over 40 miles, of community, cultural and leisure space and was granted 35 million pounds to do so. One of the major issues predicted to happen in the estuary area is flooding. Extensive green spaces and other permeable surfaces will provide sufficient protection from flooding. The Thames Gateway eco-region will confront the national challenges posed by climate change by implementing a strategy that integrates innovative approaches in energy use and production, transport, landscape management, and community action. The proposed eco-region will support the national and global response to climate change by becoming a leader in environmental research, innovation, investments, and skill development. The eco-region is going to be in an urban area, include new green technology, showcase sustainable development, include community education, provide eco-assessments, and utilize the 2012 Olympics as a showcase for sustainable design.
The Parklands Vision of the Gateway was launched by Sir Terry Farrell, award winning architect, urban designer and the Government’s Parklands Design Champion at the Thames Gateway Green Forum. The Parklands Vision includes eight different elements:
One of the unifying elements in all successful sustainable park developments is the element of flexibility. The spaces are either multipurpose or are subdivided into different functions. The key to creating environmentally friendly cities does not just involve sustainability, but also involves creating a friendly and involved city. All of the example developments also have had community input and involvement from concept development through follow up organizations and management. In order to create a cleaner and more sustainable environment for the world’s cities, parks must be utilized as the natural solution to environmentally friendly cities.
Posted on May 10th, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
Brownfields are abandoned, idle, or underused industrial or commercial properties where there is either a real or perceived contamination. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 Brownfields in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been key in allocating funds and organizing agencies for Brownfield redevelopment. The EPA’s investment in the Brownfields Program has resulted in many accomplishments, including leveraging more than $6.5 billion in Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment funding from the private and public sectors and creating approximately 25,000 new jobs. Brownfield cleanup not only helps our environment, but is also helps to reconnect communities with new space, new jobs, and increased community tax bases.
The Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) is a grant program that is intended to stimulate and promote community development dealing with the redevelopment of “abandoned, idled and underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion and redevelopment is burdened by real or potential environmental contamination” (http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/). They are especially geared towards projects with an emphasis on economic opportunities for low and moderate income people and the creation of business, jobs, and increase in local tax bases. There are numerous programs similar to this throughout the United States.
In May 1997, Vice President Gore announced a Brownfields National Partnership to bring together the resources of more than 15 federal agencies to address local cleanup and reuse issues in a more coordinated manner. This partnership has designated a number of Brownfield Showcase Communities as models of the benefits of Brownfield activity. These communities ranged from parts of cities, to rural communities, and tribes. These communities are intended to promote environmental protection and restoration, economic redevelopment, job creation, community revitalization, and public health protection, in addition to linking federal, state, local, and non-governmental action to demonstrate positive results of collaboration in Brownfield revitalization. A federal employee is assigned to each Showcase Community to assist with coordination of technical and financial support. Financial assistance, technical support, and grants from participating agency programs are subject to the requirements of those programs. BEDI is one organization that helps extensively in these programs.
Salt Lake City, Utah’s Union Pacific Depot site is a great example of Brownfield Redevelopment. The 650 acre Gateway District was initially a thriving neighborhood due to the presence of the railroad. The railroad eventually became an accessibility issue that was only furthered by the construction of an interstate overpass with four on ramps. One of the interesting things is that the perceived contamination from the 100 years of rail and industrial use was generally much worse than the actual contamination present. If the 2002 Olympic Winter Games had not been held in Salt Lake City, the redevelopment might not have ever have occurred. The Union Pacific Railroad also agreed to have their station moved to a new location that would become a new Intermodal Transit Hub.
A private development group purchased the largest rail yard, and in November 2001 began a $375 million mixed-use, mixed-income development effort. Eventually, the development will contain 2.5 million square feet for retail, entertainment, office, and cultural facilities, including a children’s museum; a public plaza; a 300-room hotel; and 500 residential units. Currently, more than 80 percent of the units have since been leased by tenants. (http://www.epa.gov/swerosps/bf/pdf/ss_salt.pdf)
Other examples of successful Brownfield Showcase Communities are:
One of the biggest issues with Browfield redevelopment is the cleaning process. It is hard to be sure what you will uncover on a Brownfield site prior to starting the cleaning process, which can be timely and expensive. The only way for most people to be able to afford this costly procedure is by taking advantage of government programs, which are becoming more accessible every day, thanks largely to more public awareness for Brownfields and a more progressive political administration.
Posted on May 2nd, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
Posted on April 30th, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
Buildings will provide 50% of their own energy by reusing the heat from the purified waste water, using solar energy for large scale residential applications, and by utilising the energy from the combustible household waste which has been separated at source http://www.hammarbysjostad.se/. About 1,000 apartments use biogas cookers, which comes from the residents themselves. “It is formed when sludge from the waste water treatment is digested. Amazingly, the biogas “produced” by the average family is close to equal to the amount of biogas they use for cooking. By replacing the electricity for the cookers with biogas, the electricity consumption has been lowered by 20% in the buildings in question (http://www.hammarbysjostad.se/).” The city has some truly interesting aspects with regard to waste and has two underground systems for its collection. The mobile system collects waste in different underground containers which are emptied by a vehicle that has a vacuum suction system. The stationary system has refuse chutes that are linked by underground pipes to a central collection station on the outskirts of the living area via vacuum suction.
Water use has been reduced by half since the 1990s, with 95% of the phosphorus in wastewater is reused on agricultural land.When the heat has been extracted from the warm, purified waste water, the remaining cold water can be used for district cooling. Before the purified waste water is released into the Baltic Sea, it is pumped to Hammarby District Heating plant. There it is lead through heat pumps, that extract the heat from the water, to use for district heating. In this process cold water, which is used for district cooling, is also produced. http://www.hammarbysjostad.se/inenglish/pdf/HS_miljo_bok_eng_ny.pdf
Huangbaiyu is a village lactated in China that was designed by William McDonough and Partners. This is an example of a project with good intentions that has gone awry. The 12 acre rural village was intended to be built in stages, the main principal being to eliminate waste through technological or biological nutrition. “The purpose of the project was to address China’s need to reclaim farmland, house its population, and promote sustainable growth that is economically, socially, and environmentally positive ( http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/huangbaiyu/default.asp?ProjID=huangbaiyu).” The homes were to be built from hay and pressed-earth bricks, fully insulated, solar powered and cost around $4600. The homes were to be moved to the center of the village to make as much use of the surrounding farmland as possible.
After the master plan and a prototype house were built in 2006, the local government took over the rest of construction, but not according to the concept plan or the design work. As of July 2007, only two of the homes were occupied and only tree had solar panels. They have now been modified to use gas from a biogassification plant that was built next door, are using pressed-earth bricks in a combination with coal dust, none are facing south as planned, and somehow, the new houses also have garages although no villager can afford a car. In July 2008, the local district government replaced the original developer with a different firm to manage the project, which currently has 42 dwellings, only five of which are occupied. This project illustrates that when dealing on an urban scale, the participation and cooperation of government are crucial in accomplishing a plan. http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/fellows/green_dreams/. This project also points out that the locals of an area to be developed need to be involved in the design process, especially if they are the intended residents. The chief and main developer of this village is actually proposing that the empty homes be turned into a tourist attraction if they cannot be sold.
Of these two projects, I feel that Hammarby is most successful. This project deals with actively participating residents, transportation, natural resources, waste control, and numerous other sustainable aspects. This project also had active participation from the local government, which although tedious and sometimes painful, is necessary when designing at such a large scale. I think that Huangbaiyu is an example of why government and local participation is necessary in the development of new sustainable cities.
Posted on April 21st, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
Geothermal energy is power derived from heat stored in the earth. The heat content of the earth is 1031Joules, enough to theoretically satisfy global energy demand for 10 billion years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy. One of the benefits of this type of geothermal power stations, is that they are not relying on transient sources of energy, and can have up to 90% capacity. In addition to heat emanating from deep within the Earth, the top 10 m of the ground accumulates solar energy during the summer, and releases that energy during the winter. About 10GW of geothermal electric capacity was installed around the world as of 2007, which generated 0.3% of our global electricity demand. This number is growing by 3% annually.
Common Geothermal Applications:
There are four basic applications for ground loop systems. Horizontal, vertical, and pond/lake are closed-loop systems. The fourth type of system is the open-loop option.
Horizontal installation is generally most cost-effective for residential installations, and requires trenches at least four feet deep. The most common layouts either use two pipes, one buried at six feet, and the other at four feet, or two pipes placed side-by-side at five feet in the ground in a two-foot wide trench. The SlinkyTM method of looping pipe allows more pipe in a shorter trench, which cuts down on installation costs and makes horizontal installation possible in areas it would not be with conventional horizontal applications.
Large commercial buildings and schools often use vertical systems because the land area required for horizontal loops would be prohibitive. Vertical loops are also used where the soil is too shallow for trenching, and they minimize the disturbance to existing landscaping. For a vertical system, 4 inch holes are drilled about 20 feet apart and 100-400 feet deep with two pipes inserted, that are connected at the bottom with a U-bend to form a loop. The vertical loops are connected with horizontal pipe, placed in trenches, and connected to the heat pump in the building.
If the site has an adequate water body, a pond/lake system may be the lowest cost option. A supply line pipe is run underground from the building to the water and coiled into circles at least eight feet under the surface.
An Open-Loop system uses well or surface body water as the heat exchange fluid that circulates directly through the GHP system. Once it has circulated through the system, the water returns to the ground through the well, a recharge well, or surface discharge.
The SAP Americas Headquarters Expansion in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania was designed by FXFOWLE ARCHITECTS, LLP after a design competition. The design was chosen because it opted to respond to the existing building, topography, vegetation and views. The curve of the new building fits within the existing building and a courtyard was created between the two in an attempt to preserve as many trees as possible. A circulation spine covered in brise-soleil is on the south facing side of the building and helps to shade the office spaces.
The complex, measuring 425,000 square feet has won a LEED platinum rating and was completed in 2009. Green measures like photovoltaic panels, carefully guided natural ventilation, ice storage tanks to provide chilled water, under-floor air distribution and geothermal radiant floor heating/cooling are integrated holistically into the building. http://www.fxfowle.com/. The geothermal system has 10 400-ft-deep wells that heat and cool the building.
Geos, the first fossil free community in the US, is under construction and located in Arvada, Colorado, just South of Boulder. The community is situated on 25 acres, bordered by a canal and a creek. It will comprise 250 planned homes ranging from 850 to 3500+ square feet, and four distinct neighborhoods. The community will be interlaced with a network of plazas, parks, and trails, and will connect a diverse community of people and lifestyles. http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/08/07/geos-the-us-first-fossil-fuel-free-community/. The project was designed by Michael Tavel Architects and David Kahn Studio, the community has won the 2006 Colorado AIA Citation Award, the 2006 Denver AIA Honor Award, and the 2006 Denver AIA Sustainability Award. http://www.michaeltavelarchitects.com/GEOS%20Presentation.pdf
The community plans to employ both active and passive solar energy collection measures to meet daytime heating and electrical energy needs. Rooftops will be outfitted with photovoltaic solar panels that will send their excess power to the grid for storage. For days when the sun doesn’t shine, geothermal energy will be used to meet the energy needs of the community. An underground geothermal exchange system will utilize the Earth’s energy to provide hot water and heating during Winters, while helping to cool buildings during the Summer. There will be 5 or 6 shared ground source heat pump systems for the entire project, with each heat pump servicing about 50 homes. One kilowatt of the power from the solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) system will run the heat pumps. Geothermal systems for individual homes are expensive, but Norbert projects that the economies of scale at Geos will bring the cost per GSHP unit to $4,500, with an additional $3,000 for the 1 kW of solar PV dedicated to the GSHPs. The estimated annual savings per unit is $600/year, which is greater than the estimated additional mortgage cost for the system. An energy monitoring system will inform Geos homeowners of their energy usage. Geo-Thermal and Solar Thermal Reduces Natural Gas Use by 20%. These Green technologies add $285 to monthly mortgage and provide energy savings of $200/month and tax savings on mortgage interest of $85/month.
These two projects illustrate how geothermal power can be utilized both at a small scale by architects and at a large scale by community planners and urban designers. I hope that more of the new suburbs that are continuously being developed can learn from the Geos project how to implement good passive sustainable design along with active sustainable design, such as geothermal systems.
Posted on April 16th, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
There are many different approaches to evaluating what a green building truly is. Here in the U.S. one of the main measuring tools is the LEED system. The two buildings that I have researched have not been measured using this system, but still have performed exceptionally and are loved by their users. This shows that there are many different approaches and methods of evaluating green design.
The XYZ, Incorporated building is a 300,000 square foot building that houses the company’s headquarters. More than 98% of deconstruction materials were reused, down-cycled or donated. This included 6119 tons of concrete that was diverted from landfills, 140 tons of wood diverted from landfills, 432 tons of steel diverted from landfills, 1340 tons of aluminum diverted from landfills, and 3395 tons of other materials diverted from landfills. Overall, the building has reduced 3304 tons of green house gases according to http://www.schemataworkshop.com/site/content/media/08_10%20Jetson%20Green.htm.
Modular building materials replaced conventional construction materials and movable walls, raised access flooring and modular systems of office furniture combine to reconfigure and adapt as necessary, minimizing future waste and extending the building through multiple lifecycles. The building is divided into open public spaces, work stations, and collaborative areas that can be reconfigured as quickly as in one evening. The more permanent spaces include meeting rooms and “touchdown spaces”. Inside the building, more than 90% of occupants have daylight views, and more direct control of heating and cooling in their work areas.
One of the most interesting facts is that through these simple solutions, the building’s energy usage will decrease 15% even through the overall square footage has increased by that same amount. One of the primary goals of the entire building is to function as a living learning laboratory to share modular, integrated, organic interior design principles as well as to inspire designers and guests visiting the facility. There are several AIA sanctioned CEU courses that utilize the building to teach sustainable design and construction. The inspirational and thoughtful implementation of the teaching aspect of the building convinced a third-party independent material research company to locate a satellite space within the atrium to display various materials, processes, and research findings which further inspire visitors to think outside the box and to reach further.
The C.K. Choi Building is great example of green design. The building functions as the University of B.C.’s Institute of Asian Research, and was completed in 1996 and has over 34,000 square feet of space. The building consumes 23% less energy that ASHRAI standards, and 40% less than average building standards. Over 50% of materials are reused or recycled. Builders salvaged and reused the main stair handrail, atrium guardrails, all doors, sinks, toilet accessories and some electrical conduits. The majority of non-structural steel used in construction was reused from previous buildings. 90% of the primary wood structure is reused 75-year-old heavy timbers that were salvaged from a building across the street, slated for demolition, 100% of exterior cladding is reused red brick from the streets of Vancouver, and recycled aggregate was used in the concrete. This project changed the university’s attitude toward buildings and their impact on the campus. The notion of a building “off the grid” was spawned due to the need for a costly reinvestment in existing site infrastructure of the campus to supply the new building. The arced roofs were built to accommodate photovoltaic arrays and to reflect the architectural heritage of the Asian culture, which is the focus of the research (http://www.usgbc.org/chapters/cascadia/choi.pdf).
The Choi building isn’t connected to Vancouver’s sewer grid. The toilets require no water for flushing and compost all waste, sending it to a system of chutes and trays, and eventually a “gray-water trench.” The system is maintained and emptied by the Clivus Multrum company. Every day the university maintenance staff wipes down the toilets and adds a can of wood chips or bark mulch to each toilet. Every six months, the compost (which no longer resembles feces) is removed from the system and used as a fertilizer. Composting toilets reduce water use by 264 gallons per day and the building uses fourteen times less water than traditional systems. Waste heat from the campus underground steam infrastructure is captured and used to heat domestic hot water for the building.
Operable windows, cross and stack ventilation, and even the very shape of the building give occupants total control over their comfort level during all other times of the year. One interesting fact is that The C.K. Choi building was constructed with the same dollars-persquare-foot budget as any other building on the UBC campus. This building has won numerous awards, including the Earth Day Top Ten Award from the AIA and the Award for Innovation Excellence from the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. The building was one of the first buildings in Canada to be totally conceptualized, designed, constructed, and operated following the concepts of green engineering and sustainable design.
Both of these buildings illustrate how we can reuse and readapt buildings and their components in order to promote a more responsible construction method. The difference between these two buildings is that the XYZ building is a renovation and the Choi building is a brand new design. Both buildings were able to incorporate reused materials and greatly lessen our impact on the earth.
Posted on April 8th, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
North America has a huge dependence on using home vehicles to get anywhere and everywhere. For my research on alternative transportation, I looked at two forms of citywide transportation sharing in North America, Bixi, a bike sharing program in Montreal, and Zipcar, a worldwide car sharing program with a hybrid fleet in San Fransisco. These are two initiatives to help lessen our dependency on fossil fuels.
Bixi (a combination of Bicycle and Taxi) was officially launched this year in Montreal. Over 3,000 bikes and 300 pay stations are located across the city, as an effort to complement the existing public transportation system. Bixi has been largely influenced by European bike sharing counterparts. Users simply go to a station, pick up a bike, ride it to their destination, and drop it off at a station nearest to their final destination. Users can take bikes out using a subscriber key, credit card, or an access code provided by the pay station. Users can consult http://www.bixisystem.com to find the stations nearest them and their destination, find out the number of bikes and parking spots currently available at any station, and notify system of any damage and trade for another bike quickly. What’s more, bike docks are equipped with a button that immediately signals that a bike is defective. The BIXI bikes are guaranteed for five years and designed to last at least 60,000 miles.
Innovations in the design of Bixi include solar power operated wireless communication and stations. The system is also quick and efficient to set up. Entire bike stations can be created, expanded, configured and removed as needed in less than half an hour, all monitored by a real-time management system. No excavation or preparatory work is required http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIXI. This is an improvement over “third generation” systems, such as the Velib program in Paris. The location of BIXI bike station is determined by several parameters, including population density, points of interest and activities (universities, bike paths, other transportation networks, and data on travel patterns of the general public. BIXI was ranked in 19th in Time magazines 50 Best Inventions of 2008. It has also won the Eco-Design award from INTÉRIEURS FERDIE. And the 2009 Gold Edison for Energy and Sustainability.
Zipcar is a private carsharing company that was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999, that serves 52 cities throughout the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Members (“zipsters”) are able to view vehicle availability and reserve a self-service car online or by telephone, in increments as short as one hour. 180 miles are provided for each 24 hour time period. Members are given a “Zipcard” that opens the vehicle they reserves only at the time they have reserved it for and can either sign up for the “Occasional Driving Plan” or the “Extra Value Plan”. They have also partnered with over 30 colleges and universities to provide students with access to their car sharing service on or near campus. According to http://www.zipcar.com/is-it/greenbenefits “Each and every Zipcar takes 15-20 personally-owned vehicles off the road. Multiply that by the more than 5,000 cars in our fleet and you’ve got a really big number. After joining Zipcar, 90% of our members drove 5,500 miles or less per year. That adds up to more than 32 million gallons of crude oil left in the ground—or 219 gallons saved per Zipster.”
Each vehicle has a home location with a reserved parking space located on a street, driveway, or neighborhood parking lot in the member’s area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipcar. Each vehicle records the hours of usage and mileage that is uploaded to a central computer via a wireless data link. The reservation includes drivers insurance, a gas card for the car, and reimbursements for typical car maintenance items like car washes and window wiper fluid refills.
While Zipcar has had Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles in its fleet for a year, it recently announced that it has launched a pilot program for an entire fleet of hybrid vehicles in its Bay Area through a partnership with the city of San Fransisco. The addition of a Hymotion battery provides the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic with up to 30-40 miles of electrically assisted driving on a single charge. When the battery is depleted, the vehicle automatically reverts to standard hybrid operation, so driving range isn’t a concern http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/17703. The City also announced the installation of three charging stations at City Hall.
I think that both of these projects incorporate good ways to help the environment. Zipcar’s facts about the amount of oil saved every year are very impressive. I think it would be great if they could use only hybrid cars in all of their fleets. Bixi’s bike program is also unique in the fact that they have improved their bikes over previous models and now use no electrical energy and do not require infrastructure.
Posted on March 30th, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
With 60% of the human population now living vertically in cities, it is more important than ever to utilize urban farming as a tool to feed those people. More and more people are looking at innovative ways to include farming within city limits, ranging from large scale farming skyscrapers (http://www.verticalfarm.com/) to simply reusing wasted space. I looked into two approaches that have actually been implemented in California.
A Half-way house in Los Angeles is one inner city building that recently covered its walls with an edible garden. Residents have succeeded in creating a 34-foot-long plot of strawberries, tomatoes, basil and other herbs and vegetables, which grow vertically against their cinder block building (www.worldchanging.com/archives/008375.html).The garden has proved not only to help feed the Rainbow Apartment residents, but it has also become a meeting place for interaction in the normally unfriendly area of Skid Row. The group has teamed up with a U.S. nonprofit group called Urban Farming to help them continue their efforts through their Food Chain project. Green Living Technologies donated the vertical garden. There is detailed information (PDF) on their website explaining how to irrigate vertical garden plants.
Another way to utilize farming in an urban context is to find unwanted space. These spaces usually occur near infrastructure, such as bridges, utilities, transportation systems, and interstates. The site of the Alemany Farm in San Fransisco, California has been a series of trials and errors since its formation, cycling through different ownership, and at one point being a dumping spot for unwanted appliances and household furniture. The site is located between an interstate and a lower income residential development. The goal of the farm is to provide jobs for local residents, provide local organic food for residents, introduce others to local food production, and to encourage community involvement (http://www.alemanyfarm.org/who-we-are/). The site is home to hundreds of trees as well as extensive and diverse crops. They are also borrowing bee hives from a local organization until they can establish their own. Volunteers are allowed to take as much produce as they want. The only way the farm makes any money is by having a produce stand. Even this makes very little money, since everything is for sale for $1.00 (A FARM GROWS BY THE FREEWAY).
One of the reasons that I chose these two examples of urban farming in California is that they have both actually been implemented. They both deal with improving communities, especially less economically fortunate ones, both went through periods of trials and errors, and both are taking place in normally unused space. Both spaces are used to help feed the people that volunteer to take care of the site, in addition to helping educate about agriculture. Both projects could be utilized in almost any city that I can think of.
The Alemany Farm has a much larger scale than the Rainbow Apartments Garden does, and also has a much larger variety of produce grown. The two sites are also different in that the farm is spread out in a horizontal plane whereas the garden is utilizing the vertical axis in a more dense area of the city. The vertical garden project has many implications on an architectural level, if designers were willing to incorporate the gardens into their designs.
These projects seem like great ways to help get people thinking about urban farming on a smaller scale than the large mega-structure vertical farms that are being proposed currently. If cities were to utilize these modes of production of agriculture, many residents could be educated about agriculture and help participate in the fight for locally grown food.