Alex Steffen of WorldChanging on why developing low-emissions vehicles is nowhere near as important as developing more compact, efficient and livable cities. Focus on new automotive technologies can distract us from the much more effective strategy of building in less-consumptive ways.
This beautiful book is an excellent reference for coming to grips with that slippery but important issue, density. Density can have both positive and negative connotations -- and effects -- depending on its context and execution. The photos in Visualizing Density illustrate this wonderfully, and can help us get a better mental grasp on the variety of ways people can live at a variety of different density levels.
The Southern California Association of Governments has released their Draft Regional Comprehensive Plan (RCP) for public review and comment. The Draft RCP includes a chapter on energy uncertainty and peak oil, which sets forth an ambitious performance outcome to decrease the region's consumption of fossil fuels 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.The RCP also includes guidance for local governments to address peak oil and become more sustainable. A series of public workshops will be announced soon and approval will be requested in June 2008.
As part of the Focus the Nation teach-in, the nonprofit group Architecture 2030 will be hosting a half-hour webcast about the role of design education in global warming. Part of their Reverberate campaign, Architecture 2030 aims to draw attention to the environmental impact of the built environment, and create greater awareness in the design community.
If our civilization is in trouble, how can planning codes help? In this article from Planning, Chris Duerksen of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institutedescribes ways in which development codes can be potent tools for dealing with major issues: energy, environment, health and social justice.
From the first International Conference on Urban Sustainability (ICONUS) in Hong Kong, a report on some of the ideas that were shared. Two important threads: building social capital and public involvement can be critical to the success of a project, and renovation of existing stock has the potential to be much more sustainable than new building.
The impressively green plans for San Francisco's planned new Public Utilities Commission building aren't just an example of the city showing the way and showcasing environmentally responsible technologies and techniques. They're also a sign of a building trend that's not just a fad; green building will remain an important theme in today's architecture because it's a response to a changing world.
University of Alberta's Robert Cheng is working on technologies that will allow structures to communicate otherwise invisible information about the stresses they are subjected to, allowing engineers greater ability to build and repair appropriately. "My goals include extending the useful life of structures, greatly reducing maintenance costs, and cutting the need to regularly replace or refurbish infrastructure projects," Dr. Cheng says. "The simple fact is that going forward, we will not have the resources to continue doing things the way we have for the past 50 years."
Haringey Council, in London, is using high-tech thermal imagery, a spyplane, and the Internet to inform its residents about which buildings are losing heat. The color-coded maps generated by the flyover can be a useful tool in visualizing energy inefficiencies: nearly 60% of a household's heat can be lost through uninsulated roofs and attics.