What up world!!
Posted on May 28th, 2009 by njohns26.
Climate change is disturbing the delicate balancing act that people have with water. Water is critical to our everyday lives, in fact the human body is composed of over 70% of water. But in addition, we need water to live—for drinking and irrigation, and as a source of food, transportation and recreation. But this delicate balance is shattered whenever there is too much water, particularly at an unexpected time with no time to predict or prepare, this can lead to big problems. As our Earth’s temperature rises, more and more places are under threat of flooding. As many scientists study these changes, it is predicted that nearly every coastal city and many very, if not over-populated, cities in Asia are under immense risk of being hit hard by these foreseen floods. Some might ask how global warming is even related to the changing of the water that leads to flooding, and the answer is this: whenever water is warmed or heated it causes rises in sea levels and strong storms, this gives this same water potential for a dangerous impact on people around the globe. Every day the global temperature is rising and the ocean is getting warmer, therefore someone most either be done to complete stop global temperature rise or a simple response to the problem. A solution that has been presented more and more in recent years has been the idea of ‘Floating Cities,” rather than fight the problem of rising water they respond to it.
With constant fear being set into people about the horrible effects and outcomes of climate change, being threatened by everything from arctic melting that results in immense flooding to the actual loss of giant pieces of land including existing populated countries and states, people are beginning to consider the future. A very simple idea, that in many ways has been around for a long time, is beginning to be morphed into a global solution to the ever rising tides, Floating Houses. Though Floating Houses have been around for years and years, the technology needed to float whole city blocks is just recently being developed. The French and Dutch are the forerunners in this research and development and used their analysis of water plants to create what they dubbed “The Lilypad.” The idea is that if rivers rise and oceans rise, why can’t houses simply rise up as well? This very same type of innovation could be good news for those survivors living in hurricane and flood-ravaged America. Though the question inside everyone’s head is, will people actually want to live in these floating islands? But whenever you begin to observe the prototype presented for Vincent Callebaut’s “Lilypad,” life there looks pretty inviting. (See pictures below)
Rounding the corner right on the heels of Frenchman Vincent Callebaut, are the Dutch with their “amphibious house” in Maasbommel, an area near the Maas River (a river known for flooding). Much like “The Lilypad” the “amphibious house” goes along with the same premise to simply respond to the water around it rather than trying to contain it. When interviewing the woman that actually lives in the floating house, Anne van der Molen, she seems very unphased about the very same rising of the river that could destroy the houses of her neighbor’s not-so-amphibious houses, “The elements don’t bother me.” Because for Anne the Maas’s water levels can continue rising for all see cares, her house can swim. 37 “amphibious houses” are strung in a row, just like Anne’s, all looking less remarkable than the next with no inclination that these are the Netherland’s first “flood responsive housing units.” (See below)
In these houses, rather than the celler being built into the earth, it is put onto a platform. The hollow foundation of each house works in much of the same way as the hull of a ship, using buoyancy to push the house and its foundation up above the surface of the water. In order to anchor the houses and keep them from floating away, they are on a sliding steel post system: when the water rises they slide up the two broad posts and when it sinks the posts sink back down again. “The columns have been driven deep into solid ground,” explains Dick van Gooswilligen from the Dura Vermeer construction company. “They are even strong enough to withstand currents you would find on the open seas.” All eyes are on the Dutch as climate changes becomes an ever more critical issue, this is proven by the dozens of American journalists that Gooswilligen claims to have guided through the Maasbommel district so they could possibly steal a glance at the not so distant future. “As global warming causes the sea level to rise, this is the solution,” he explains into a microphone. “Housing of this type is the future for the delta regions of the world, the ones which face the greatest danger.” It is words like these that spike the attention of Americans who have, especially in recent years after the wreckage of Katrina and Rita, grasping for a solution to our flood plains. Inversely, these very same occurrences are what piqued the interest of Dutch designers to begin advancing forward with research for this project. Upon this research and these discoveries by the architects of the low lying Netherlands, hordes of engineers, architects, and designers from both Lousianna and Texas have made the trip to the North Sea coastline to examine these exemplary models of a global solution. But the Dutch are not just solving the problems for other countries that have experienced peril due to flooding, the Netherlands actually sink a little lower every year and also find themselves needing a solution to the inevitable future of their nation, despite their airtight river dyke construction. Architects in Holland are showing the rest of the world a way of turning adversity into opportunity. The inevitable rise in sea level that comes with climate change is going to make it increasingly difficult to control flooding in low-lying Holland. But instead of cursing their fate, architects are designing a new Holland that will float on water, and the Dutch government seems willing to try out the scheme. Holland has made other countries begin to question, too. Who says you have to live on dry land?
Climate patterns show no signs of relief for the upcoming years, in fact they suggest that torrential rainfall is something that we can expect plenty more of in the future. The devastating wake left behind by Hurricane Katrina and Rita could very well be warning signs of what awaits us and our children and grandchildren. The “Catch 22,’ that comes with these increasing warning signs and risks is especially common in overpopulated and dense cities. While rainfall is increasing by more than 25 percent in some places, the dense population in many urban coastline cities creates a pressure to build in areas prone to flooding. What we do have on our side is that the simple fact that the country exists is defying the laws of physics: more than a quarter of the United States lies below sea level and year by year has always sank a little lower, creating an eery inevitable future lurking in the background. But again, Americans can learn much from the Dutch, given that it was the Dutch that perfected the dam in the first place and became somewhat masters of retaining and controlling water. What the Dutch do differently than the United States is they protect themselves by going through a network of canals and pumps, to avoid the incredibly wide reach of the Maas River due to the branching connection to the Rhine River as well. To prevent such huge amount of land from flooding during the rainy seasons in the summer and winter months, the Dutch designate more and more land each year to land along the rivers as flood zones. It is estimated that this ever-growing flood zone will grow to nearly twice the size of the German state of Saarland in the next few decades. The problem with this solution in the United States is that it requires full compliance from all of the people, industry, and agriculture of the surrounding area to successfully relocate to a safe territory, something that was one of the main causes of so many stranded and forgotten after Katrina. The immense attachment and resistance of people to leave their homes and essentially “evacuate” the area, contributes to large amount of people that were either killed or stranded after Rita and Katrina, many of the stranded still stuck in unimaginable living conditions. For this reason, officials demonstrated that it is actually possible to live in so-called flood zones, though it is incredibly dangerous with the continuously rising waterways that surround us. Though the ban on construction in flood zones in the Netherlands was lifted, the Dutch made sure that their reputation for maintaining their flood plains was kept by enforcing that every structure that is built in this area must be amphibious houses and nothing else. This providing a worst case scenario, that excess water from flooded rivers can still be diverted away from populated areas. “You cannot fight water, you have to learn how to live with it”, states Sybilla Dekker, the woman in charge. Her department has arranged a competition for engineers, urban planners and architects to design living accommodation, greenhouses, parking lots and factories which would float and could grow into “waterproof” towns.
One of the leading architects in the brand new discipline of maritime architecture is Koen Olthuis. He and his Waterstudio.nl office had already designed a number of floating structures, and now his firm if coming up with plans for office buildings one hundred meters tall that “swim.” The key to making this idea a reality is a patented technique in which the foundation of the construction can be transformed into a float. A foam core is encased in concrete, with steel cables securing it against the pull of potential currents. As a result, a maritime settlement is born. “This construction model is built to last at least one hundred years,” Olthuis says. (An example of one Koen Olthuis’s Floating Stuctures is shown below) The best part about this structure is that there is no need to call a construction company for repairs if anything should happen, but rather it can be taken to your nearest dockyard. Olthuis dubs this form of maritime architecture, “Family arks of the future.”
In my research I have found that the underlying theme of all of these proposals and projects is that rather than try to restrain nature and control it, why not just respond to it and use it in your design? In a response to the ever-rising bodies of water around the world due to climate change, these floating structures seem to be the wave of the future. From a floating island shaped like a lilypad to a string of houses that gradually rise and fall with the movement of the river on which they are docked, it is clear that the versatility and simplicity of this design will surely be the wave of the future. With over ¾’s of the world covered in water and our land area quickly dimensioning, floating architecture seems to be the most attractive solution. While the Dutch are constructing floating communities throughout the Netherlands, the United States finds themselves behind, still at the drawing board, as flood after flood ravages our delta areas every year. Many of the “solutions” that you see to climate change and global warming are attempts to bring them to a stop or restrain some sort of human action that is fueling global warming to get worse, but I believe that we can all learn from a method such as this one, in which it responds and “rolls with the punches” of what is already damaged and tries to prepare for the worst case scenario. As the Dutch think, rather than try to plug a dyke or dam that has 100 holes in it that will only put off the problem to another date, why not get started building the new dam for whenever the old one gives out, why not prepare for the worst case scenario. So while the Dutch are enjoying their floating houses with no awareness to the weather and elements around them, Americans will continue on piling up sandbags every time it rains until they learn to respond to our changing climate as well.
Posted on May 14th, 2009 by njohns26.
“A world where one tenth of the population gets to be extremely wealthy, and six tenths very poor, is not, in the long run, a stable place.” – Bill McKibben
“It is clear that we need to build a new foundation—a stronger foundation—for our economy and our prosperity, rethinking how we educate our children, and care for our sick, and treat our environment.
Many of our current challenges are unprecedented. There are no standard remedies, or go-to fixes this time around. ” Barack Obama
Barack Obama’s presidency may signal good times for the sustainability industry. Gregory Wetstone of the American Wind Energy Association told the New York Times that he was eager to work with a president whose policies “for the first time will reflect a national commitment to renewable energy” like wind and solar. Some environmentalists were also optimistic about an Obama administration. Seth Kaplan of the Conservation Law Foundation told the New York Times that in addition to renewables development, he hoped Obama would implement a “tremendous ramp-up in energy efficiency,” as well as national regulation of greenhouse gases. However, other environmentalists were not as pleased with Obama’s support for coal. Although the president-elect supports clean coal technology, some environmentalists say the technology may take years or decades to garner widespread use. During Obama’s campaign, he made renewable energy a focus of his energy policy . These include: aiming to generate 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025; setting cap-and-trade programs to reduce the nation’s GHG emissions 80 percent by 2050; investing $150 billion over the next ten years in cleantech; and putting 1 million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015. The ethanol industry may also see a boost from an Obama administration, which has been more supportive than Senator John McCain of ethanol subsidies and expanded use of higher blends of ethanol (some blame McCain losing Iowa to his stance on ethanol subsidies).
“We need to stop seeing our cities as the problem and start seeing them as the solution,” said Obama. “Because strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America. That is the new metropolitan reality and we need a new strategy that reflects it. As president, I’ll work with you to develop this kind of strategy and I’ll appoint the first White House Director of Urban Policy to help make it a reality.”
Obama articulated an equally impressive vision on climate protection and clean energy.
“To completely revamp how we use energy in a way that deals with climate change, deals with national security, and drives our economy, that’s going to be my number-one priority when I get into office,” said Obama in a recent Time interview. A few of the major goals of the energy plan he outlined during the campaign:
President Obama’s first priority, however, will be to address the ailing U.S. economy. It is widely predicted that he will work with Congress to implement an additional stimulus package that features mostly infrastructure spending. The plan is to inject existing federal programs with money to repair or build new infrastructure and quickly create jobs. But smart spending can accomplish two more goals: By funding local governments to implement energy efficiency programs or public transit expansions, an economic stimulus package can help to revitalize urban centers with green jobs, and jumpstart the coming clean-energy economy.
The Blueprint calls for the following plans, some of which could be included in such a stimulus package: Enact a national climate policy that:
Implement clean energy policies that:
Invest in local climate capacity through annual federal appropriations that
The task before President Obama is enormous. Leadership on climate change has been absent on the national and international level for nearly a decade, and there is much to accomplish if the United States hopes to make deep reductions in greenhouse gases.
What gives us hope is the momentum and the groundswell of support that President-elect Obama carries into the White House. A Zogby post-election survey of 3,357 voters nationwide found that 78% believed investing in clean energy is important to revitalizing America’s economy. In July, a nationwide poll conducted by the nonpartisan Presidential Climate Action Project found that 62% of respondents believe it is important that the next U.S. president initiates strong action to address climate change soon after taking office.
Posted on April 30th, 2009 by njohns26.
A typical car-dominated city downtown with larger box-like buildings and “ample parking,” with its associated congestion, smog and paving of surrounding land for sprawl.
The downtown in transition: restructuring while recycling building materials, digging up once-buried natural waterways, adding pedestrian infrastructure and building upon a transition to “mixed uses” and “balanced development” in which the important activities are provided for within a short distance.
An ecocity downtown with waterways restored, bridges between buildings, pedestrian streets, solar active and passive energy technology and design, rooftop access to elevated “streets” and bridges between buildings. Slowly, people are moving in from the suburbs toward city and town centers using development profits to help pay for buying and removing buildings in automobile dependent areas. Now the city center runs on a fraction of the energy as before, has streets filled with fruit trees, is extremely friendly to the pedestrian and the whole city takes up much less room, making room for more agriculture and natural land.
An Eco-City is an ecologically healthy city. Eco-Cities are places where people can live healthier and economically productive lives while reducing their impact on the environment. They work to harmonize existing policies, regional realities, and economic and business markets with their natural resources and environmental assets. Eco-Cities strive to engage all citizens in collaborative and transparent decision making, while being mindful of social equity concerns.
Eco-city development integrates vision, citizen initiative, public administration, ecologically efficient industry, people’s needs and aspirations, harmonious culture, and landscapes where nature, agriculture and the built environment are functionally integrated in a healthy way.
The Eco-City concept is rooted in the West. In 1991 several hundred innovators came together for the First Los Angeles Ecological Cities Conference (Walter, Bob, Lois Arkin and Richard Crenshaw, Sustainable Cities—Concepts and Strategies for Eco-city Development, Los Angeles: Eco City Media, 1994). Sustainability pioneer Richard Register, founder of Urban Ecology in the San Francisco Bay Area, was one of the early advocates for linking ecological principles to the redesign of cities.
With a focus on urban green space and biodiversity, planning Professor Rutherford B. Platt, with assistance from U.S. Man and Biosphere Program, the Chicago Academy of Sciences, US EPA, US Forest Service and National Park Service convened a sustainable cities symposium that was later compiled and edited into a book, The Ecological City (1994).
Posted on April 23rd, 2009 by njohns26.
Dubai’s Rotating Wind Tower
Dubai has well earned its reputation for architectural extravagance and excess. Not a cent has been spared as various developers vie to produce the biggest, the most stunning, the most luxurious and the most outrageous projects ever undertaken. And while this next project is right up there in terms of luxury, exclusivity and head-spinning architectural genius, it adds a fascinating extra dimension – the ability to generate ten times as much power as it will use. Each floor of Dynamic Architecture’s wind-powered rotating skyscraper is a single apartment with the ability to rotate independently, giving residents the ability to choose a new view at the touch of a button – quite a party trick. Wind turbines between each floor will generate a vast surplus of electricity capable of powering the whole surrounding neighborhood. The method of construction is also fascinating; each floor will be pre-fabricated in segments in a quality-controlled factory before being lifted and secured into place on a concrete spine, bringing costs and construction times down significantly. Construction is set to begin soon in Dubai, with a second tower to follow in Moscow and numerous other sites around the world being considered.
The genius in Dr. David Fisher’s design of the Dynamic Architecture wind-powered rotating skyscraper is its powerful and unique appeal to so many stakeholders. With luxury and jaw-dropping architecture becoming so common in Dubai, and so many wealthy and impressionable people wishing for their homes to stand out from the crowd, the tower’s unique ability for each floor to rotate independently will surely place it in high demand. It will also be a stunning landmark for the city, catching the sun as it quietly twists like a monolithic Rubik’s cube.
The wind turbines between each floor make the tower an environmentally positive construction, generating a large excess of power to put back into the energy grid. Each turbine has the peak ability to produce around 0.2 megawatt hours of electricity. Given Dubai has an average of 4000 hours of wind annually, with an average wind speed of 16 km/h, the turbines are estimated to produce around 1,200,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. Four of the 48 turbines in the building will be enough to power the entire tower, leaving the other 44 to provide surplus energy back into Dubai’s power grid.
The tower’s unique properties allow for an equally innovative construction process. Instead of building the tower from the ground up, floor by floor as most skyscrapers are built, the rotating tower will be built in parallel stages. As a team on site builds the enormous concrete core, or spine of the building, complete with the elevators, a separate team will be working in a dedicated factory, prefabricating each floor in segments. Once the core is complete, the segments will be lifted up the side of the building and each floor will be assembled and attached, from the top floor down, around the central spine.
This method holds a number of advantages over traditional construction schedules. Firstly, since the core and floor segments are being built in parallel, the construction can be much quicker, resulting in a time saving of around 30% for a similarly sized regular tower. Secondly, vastly fewer workers need to be on site at the tower, meaning only around 90 specialist workers will need to work in difficult and dangerous conditions at the tower itself, the remainder being in an optimal, safe and comfortable factory setting.
Thirdly, each modular apartment can be easily customized to the buyer’s desires, and every small component can be finished and quality assessed much more easily than an on-site construction, leading to higher standards of quality control. Architect David Fisher sees the construction method as the equivalent of an industrial revolution in construction, bringing large-scale building practices into line with industrial practices in other areas. The first industrial prefabrication factory will be located in Italy.
The rotating tower is slated to begin construction soon in Dubai according to Dynamic Architecture – and the 420-meter, 80-floor Dubai tower will be followed by a 70-floor, 400-meter tower in Moscow which is currently in advanced design phase. The company is in preliminary talks with the cities of Milan, London, New York, Hamburg and Sao Paolo for further implementations.
Bahrain World Trade Center
The three 29m-diameter turbine blades on Bahrain’s iconic landmark are the first in the world to be integrated on such a scale into a commercial development and are forecast to provide the equivalent of 11-15% of the power for the two towers when fully operational. The successful rotation of the blades involved collaboration between Atkins architects and engineers and turbine specialists Norwin, who were in Bahrain for the milestone event. “Having all three turbines spinning simultaneously represents an historic achievement for this landmark project and Atkins is excited to have been a major player in turning the original idea into reality” says Simha LytheRao Senior Project Manager for Atkins in Bahrain.” The use of established technologies, including type-tested turbines with minimal modifications, ensured that the additional cost incurred by incorporating turbines into the project was reduced to around 3.5% of the overall project value, making it not only an environmentally responsible but also a financially viable venture.” The BWTC design blends maritime aesthetics with the functionality of traditional wind-towers. The visually striking sail-shaped towers form a commanding silhouette on the skyline of Manama, and serve to channel the strong on-shore winds directly onto the three spinning blades.
Atkins’ holistic expertise extended from concept design to through life of the project, with a diverse team of engineers playing a significant role in achieving this remarkable feat. Incorporating large-scale turbines onto a building is a world first and during the upcoming months the turbines will undergo detailed analysis and optimisation by turbine specialists Norwin to determine their actual generating potential. The turbines are expected to operate approximately 50% of the time.
The BWTC project establishes a technological precedent which is set to raise the awareness of environmental design and its importance in the built environment and pave the way for designers and clients to incorporate renewable and energy efficient measures into their future developments to reduce carbon emissions.
The BWTC project has received international acclaim for its commitment to sustainable development, being awarded LEAF Awards 2006 for ‘Best Use of Technology within a Large Scheme’ and recently the Arab Construction World ‘Sustainable Design Award’. These accolades recognise the achievements of developments whose raison d’être is environmental protection and improvement, and provide public recognition for the individuals and companies who have attained the highest standards within the design and construction industry.
Posted on April 16th, 2009 by njohns26.
Humans today find themselves at a crossroads. At the rate we are burning through our natural resources, humans are having to make an international decision: either use alternative renewable materials and in turn conserve energy and fossil fuels or like the Easter Islanders, the next generations to come will find themselves unable to meet their needs or have the ability to undo the consequences of the actions of prior generations. Rather than wait for the rest of the world to change their ways, many architects have already begun the process of spreading awareness of sustainability through their buildings. Currently there have been case studies on what have been dubbed by green website founder Jetson Green “the top five American green buildings,” these structures range from residential to commercial and show how green buildings aren’t a thing of the future anymore. On the very top of Mr. Green’s list is a structure that is often called “The Greenest Building on the Planet,” also known as the Aldo Leopold Legacy Centre in Wisconsin.
(The site of the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center)
The endearing nickname was given to the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center when the building was formally awarded its LEED Platinum Certification, the highest of all sustainable honors. As he was handing over the award council president Rick Fedrizzi gloated, “This building does things that people are dreaming about. There are people out there saying, ‘Somehow, somewhere a building will be able to do that.’ This building is doing it today.” The Aldo Leopold Legacy Centre tops the charts of LEED Platinum certified architecture with an amazing 70% more efficient rating than a comparable building, in addition, LEED awarded the building 61 out of 69 possible points in their assessment, making the Center the highest rated green building in the world. Though this incredibly impressive score did not come without much thought and consideration from the design team, who thought of every minute detail before even breaking ground on the project. In every possible nook-and-cranny the Center sheds light on the idea that virtually completely sustainable buildings are indeed possible. LEED’s president Fedrizzi observed the process of the building from start to finish and admired the amount of attention that was paid to achieving the most exemplary structure possible, “The design team thought carefully about the Legacy Center. They considered not only its energy efficient features and green design aspects, but worked meticulously through how the building would fit into the larger context of its local environment, the people who use it, and the landscape of rural Wisconsin: in short, the way the Legacy Center would inhabit its world.”
It was important to all who were involved in the design and building process of the Center that the entirety of the project reflects the views and life’s work of Mr. Aldo Leopold. The highest level of sustainability was at the utter most importance, because of Leopold’s love of nature and especially that of Wisconsin. The inter-workings of the building had to be on the forefront of environmental technology, much like Aldo Leopold was himself. The building is not quite considered a memorial, but rather a celebration of a man who was considered by many as “the father of wildlife management and of the United States’ wilderness system.” As an American ecologist and environmentalists Leopold literally gave his life for the well-being of our planet as well as other people, Leopold’s death was actually a trauma-induced heart attack that he had while fighting off a brush fire on a neighbor’s farm. Many of the features were intentionally meant to go above and beyond the expectations of guests, much like Leopold himself did for the wildlife of Wisconsin. For instance, almost every bit of wood used in the building even has an underlying importance, ”The pine trees Aldo Leopold and his family planted in 1935-1948 are a major building component in the Legacy Center. In the form of structural columns, beams, and trusses, as well as interior paneling and finish work, Leopold lumber is featured in all three of the Legacy Center buildings.” Actually thinning the surrounding forests improved “forest health” while providing 90,000 board feet of wood for the project on top of the other 60% of materials that were manufactured within 500 miles of the site. A few other features of the building include: underground “earth tubes” that supply fresh, already tempered air to the entire facility, eliminating the dependence on a HVAC system, in addition to generating well over 50,000 kWh of electricity annually. But what makes this structure so unique is that is the closest thing to a truly ideal “zero energy building,” producing more than enough energy for the buildings needs, a whopping projected 110 percent, through the center’s “roof-mounted solar array.” One of the largest obstacles in an energy-efficient building is overcoming the heating, cooling, but mostly the plumbing and water usage. But the architects of the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center fixed the problem through waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and efficient water faucets and, in turn, reducing the total water consumption by 65%. The Legacy Center is also the first carbon neutral building ever certified by LEED (“meaning annual operations account for no net gain in carbon dioxide emissions”). In addition to all of the eco-friendly features of the actually structure, before breaking ground on the project the design team set out to fix the actual site that the project now stands on as well. The Aldo Leopold Foundation actually sought out the location seeing that it was on a previously disturbed site where the native ecosystems were in desperate need of restoration. To begin in these efforts the project team replaced the usual concrete paving method with crushed gravel so as “to increase rainwater infiltration” and to blend the new building into the surrounding landscape, thus giving it a smaller footprint.
(Part of the Legacy Center’s “roof-mounted solar array” )
The Center has gone above and beyond any other green building today, and not only are they helping the environment and creating an example but they are also making it into a lucrative business. “By focusing on energy conservation from the beginning of the design process, we are able to meet the bulk of our energy needs during the winter—and generate income during the summer by selling surplus electricity to the local utility.” By actually generating more energy than the building needs to function not only does the building not put a notch in the Wisconsin power grid, but the structure also literally gives back to its community. The idea behind the structure is that it only takes very simple things to conserve energy, the Center, for instance, simply minimizes the amount of time artificial lighting and the HVAC systems are running during occupancy, the amount of pumping power of drains and pipes, and designing all occupied spaces into the perimeter zones so as to increase the amount of usable natural lighting. Through these simple changes in people’s everyday lives they can learn how to live like an environmentalist, using nature to your advantage by utilizing the natural resources we already have on the planet rather than manmade technologies that ruin these natural resources. Aldo Leopold served as an example during his time for those around him to observe, teaching about preservation and, some say, starting the modern wilderness-conservation movement throughout the United States. In one of his writings Leopold defined conservation saying, “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land,” and believed that people should be educated about the various ways to conserve and protect our environment. By combining the words of Leopold himself and observing Leopold’s life’s work, the design team constructed a building that is the physical embodiment of Aldo Leopold’s message.
The Aldo Leopold Legacy building is living proof that sustainability is possible today, and not to be left to generations of the future. Unlike previous notions that in order to conserve one must sacrifice cutting edge design, this green structure shows that that simply isn’t true. Aldo Leopold was preaching about conservation and the preservation of our environment long ago, but now with other architects and designers like him carrying on his message people are beginning to pay long overdue attention. If more and more architects would check up and realize, like the design team of the Legacy Center, that their mark on our planet is one that will last for generations to come, and take the time to strategically plan their structures to give back to our environment more than we are taking. Though it is a slow process to get people to change their energy guzzling ways, we can see that architects are beginning to step up to the challenge and be an example for the rest of the world to follow.
Aldo Leopold Legacy Center: the “Greenest Building on the Planet”
Posted on April 9th, 2009 by njohns26.
With all of the talk about harmful emissions and chemicals being pumped into our environment and ozone layer daily, in turn having a heavy hand in Global Warming, people began turning to their main source of transportation and saying, “I think it’s time for a change.” Rather than gas-guzzling SUV’s, the new “hot item” on the car lot is fuel-efficient vehicles or at least those with low-emission. Though this isn’t by any means a 100% fix to the problem of Climate Change, it is in fact a step in the right direction. In order to get people onto the “Green Bandwagon” Auto industries have been really pushing the advertisement of Hybrids, Low-Emission, and Fuel-Efficient Vehicles with incentives such as extremely lower prices or small perks in order to get the buyer’s attention. Large commercial Shopping areas or even Assembly spaces have been pushing and aiding in the movement as well, sometimes allotting up to 30 premium parking spaces for those in an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Recently Schools, such as Harvard University, and Businesses have even hopped on as well, pushing their students and employees towards an environmentally friendly way of getting to work or school. In 1994, whenever the very first compact natural gas-powered vehicles made its premiere in Washington, D.C. it was a statement to the entire Auto Industry, clearly stating that there is in fact another way and it doesn’t have to be a choice between doing what is good for our environment and convenience and efficiency.
“The successful development of the ANGV should send a strong signal to U.S. automakers that natural-gas vehicles can and are being built that satisfy consumers’ as well as fleet operators’ needs for range, fuel economy and performance,” said Warren I. Mitchell, chairman of the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition and president of Southern California Gas Co., a sponsor of the project. And not only was it a wake-up call for the Auto-Industries but also to the consumer, that this product can be as efficient as a regular vehicle, and may one day take of the auto-industry entirely. “This Advanced Natural Gas Vehicle has proven the concept that a dedicated natural-gas vehicle can be built that is virtually indistinguishable from its gasoline-powered counterpart in terms of range, performance and safety, but with significantly lower exhaust emissions,” said John Wozniak, APL project manager for the ANGV. For example, the ultra-low-emission Geo Prism, designed to travel twice as far between fill-ups as current-day natural-gas vehicles, has a fuel economy of 32 miles per gallon and trunk space that is 75 percent of the original capacity, as compared with other NGVs that use the trunk as a fuel-tank storage area.
Especially with the economy taking what seems to be a turn for the worst, and Auto-makers now being forced by the hand of the government to change their ways, the market for alternative vehicles is flourishing and spreading like wildfire. Companies are beginning to have to make decisions about what is essential and efficient for the market right now, not only for the Auto Industries to save a buck, but also because that is all that people can afford and the only thing that the consumer is going to pay attention to with our economy in this recession and no room for luxury or inessentials. In the past car companies might have put the green car technologies on the shelf as nice-to-have but too expensive and not really critical, but this time around, the world’s major automakers are being held to a strict ultimatum and are holding firm to plans for hybrids, pure electric vehicles, and other fuel-saving programs.
Posted on April 2nd, 2009 by njohns26.
“Vertical Farming” is basically new sustainable technology that allows for sustainable farming practices to take place is a structure that could be the solution to both food shortage and possibly the negative affect that modern agricultural practices have had on our environment, all while covering a minimal footprint. These buildings have been lovingly dubbed “Farmscrapers” and contain multiple levels of controlled farming environments. Many, who contributed to the evolution of this and other sustainable ideas, believe that this very concept could be the ultimate solution to the world’s food, water, and energy crises. Though the technology does exist to realize Vertical Farming, it remains in concept, despite the overwhelming list of sustainable possibilities this innovation could provide. This list of possibilities begins with the benefit of space economy, unlike sprawling farmland, Vertical Farming doesn’t require clearing forests to make way for food production, opening doors to the possibility of urban locations. By making these facilities incredibly space efficient, centers like these could be placed directly into a dense city, reducing the miles, pollution, and energy that it would usually require to ship food into the city. Another benefit of this technique is the extremely controlled environment in which food is produced. By completely eliminating the need for farmland, and in turn that for harmful pesticides and chemicals to ensure crop production, this building minimalizes its negative impact on the environment and saves the need for massive amounts of water use. Not only does this method lend itself to being easier to maintain and control crops, not subject to the inclement weather that is a major factor in outdoor farming, but also it has no affect on the outside environment. Little to no harmful chemicals are needed for this method, and if so they are contained and not leached into the surrounding ecosystem. All in all Vertical Farming is a method that, though has not yet been actualized in reality, will hopefully one day aid in repairing the damages that have been done to our food, water, and energy supplies.
“Living Machines” share similar goals of Vertical Farming, as far as cleansing the ecosystem that surrounds them, but goes about this goal in a different manner. Rather than being a simple housing or shelter for a technology that encourages and promotes sustainability, the building actually is the technology. This “Living Machine” serves as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to costly and harmful traditional water treatment plants. This technology is a concept that not only incorporates plants, but also helpful bacteria, fungi, snails, clams and fish that thrive by breaking down and digesting pollutants, in order to clean up the water in a given area. The way it works is all of these organisms that live inside the structure soak up the nutrients that they need, in turn helping them grow and thrive, while providing us with clean water. Traditional treatment plants consume massive amounts of money, energy, and resources to take on the difficult job of converting sewer sludge to fresh water, whereas Living Machines take on the endeavor in a brand new eco-conscious light that both conserves water and reduces costs.
This technology is a symbiosis of natural and man-made resources in order to transform water from dirty to clean through a series of, at minimum, 3 different ecological systems, each isolated from the others so that it can treat waste-water based on its own unique needs, after which sending it through to the next community. These systems not only serve as a great educational tool, but also its application is beginning to be seen all over the country as an alternative to traditional water treatment facilities.
Posted on October 29th, 2008 by njohns26.
Well, I am from Memphis, TN and an Architecture major pursuing a minor degree in Urban Design. I’m also on the SCAD cross-country team after I decided to try-out and walk onto the team last year. I spend the majority of my time running or working out with the team, hanging out with my friends, and riding my bike around Savannah (and im sure living in Montgomery’s studio will be a soon addition to this list). This is only my 2nd URBA class ever, but my last one was URBA 210 with Judith Reno, that I actually had with only one other person ~ Malorie (who is in this class too!). I’m looking forward to this class and getting to know all of you as well as expanding my knowledge about my minor!