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Per this article in The Gazette: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Montreal+picked+five+hubs+Future+Earth+project/10008798/story.html Montreal has been selected as one of five global hubs for a United Nations project called Future Earth, an ambitious 10-year initiative to build and connect international research on the environment and sustainable development — and to find ways to intensify and accelerate the impact of that research. It is a united, international effort to create sustainability and advance scientific study on questions of environmental impact, to merge science and public policy — and to address urgent environmental challenges. Future Earth’s globally distributed secretariat will also have hubs in Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm and Boulder, Colo. Those involved in petitioning to get the hub here — there were at least 20 competing bids — believe that Montreal’s star will definitely shine brighter on the international stage now. While the project will involve all of Montreal’s universities, Concordia University will house the local hub that will bring together Quebec researchers to contribute to this major scientific initiative. It is news that has Concordia president Alan Shepard smiling these days, although he is primarily focused on what a coup this is for Montreal and the opportunities he believes will emerge from it. “This is great for Montreal and very good for Concordia,” Shepard said in an interview on Monday. “We’ll be the host but it’s collaborative, an intersection for all the universities in Montreal to work together on climate change and the health of the Earth.” The universities came together to work on a joint proposal to lobby for the hub at the urging of Montréal International, which acts as an economic driver for Greater Montreal. Montréal International vice-president Stéphanie Allard is also convinced that Montreal’s involvement in the project can only be a boon to its universities and to the city itself. “It’s a very big opportunity for all the universities and for Montreal,” said Allard, who oversees international organizations. “It will increase our visibility in the world, it will establish us as an international city and it will certainly make us more attractive to researchers.” Future Earth is the result of a commitment made in 2012, at the United Nations conference Rio+20, to develop a new international network to advance sustainability. It is being overseen by the International Council of Science, a non-governmental association with a goal to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. The project is committed to developing the knowledge for responding effectively to the risks and opportunities of global environmental change and for supporting transformation towards global sustainability in the coming decades. It will mobilize tens of thousands of scientists while strengthening partnerships with policy-makers and other stakeholders in the quest for a sustainable planet. “Solutions to the major sustainability challenges facing humanity require integrated science and a closer relationship with policy-makers and stakeholders than we have seen to date,” said Yuan-Tseh Lee, president of the ICSU. “Future Earth has been designed to respond to these urgent needs, and I am impressed by the innovative consortium that has come together to drive the program forward.” In making its pitch, Montréal International cited that Montreal has a rich, diverse and high quality research network already in place, that it is multicultural and multilinguistic, that it is very well-positioned to be a hub and that office space is cheaper here than in many cities. Shepard said it’s hard to say what financial benefits there could be for the city, but he said having the secretariat will certainly bring UN resources, international visitors, research opportunities, graduate students and lots of attention. “Montreal becomes a neuronetwork and it’s glowing really bright,” he said, adding that the project meshed well with Concordia’s “intellectual values” of integrating different academic disciplines. An added bonus is that it also fits well with a preoccupation of the university’s students, namely sustainability and environmental science. “Future Earth clearly recognizes Montreal’s research capacity and the valuable contribution we will make in developing solutions to global environmental challenges,” said Shepard. “It’s a beautiful thing to have in your city; it will bring great intellectual leadership and passion and opportunity.” [email protected] Twitter: KSeidman
Changing the plans America’s oil capital is throwing up a few environmental surprises Jul 14th 2012 | HOUSTON | from the print edition STEVE KLINEBERG, a sociologist at Rice University, mentions a couple of events that made Houston’s leaders take notice of a looming problem. One was the day, in 1999, when their city overtook Los Angeles as America’s most polluted—evidence that the rise in asthma attacks among the city’s children, and the students passing out on football pitches, were no coincidence. Another was when Houston came up short in its bid to compete to host the 2012 Olympics. No one on the United States Olympics Committee voted for it, despite the fact that Houston had a brand-new stadium and had promised to turn an old sports field into the world’s largest air-conditioned track-and-field arena. At a casual glance, Houston looks much as it ever did: a tangle of freeways running through a hodgepodge of skyscrapers, strip malls and mixed districts. A closer inspection, though, shows signs of change. The transport authority, which branched into light rail in 2004, is now planning three new lines, adding more than 20 miles of track. Most of the traffic lights now boast LED bulbs, rather than the incandescent sort. More than half the cars in the official city fleet are hybrid or electric, and in May a bike-sharing programme began. Every Wednesday a farmers’ market takes place by the steps of city hall. Other changes are harder to see. The energy codes for buildings have been overhauled and the city is, astonishingly, America’s biggest municipal buyer of renewable energy; about a third of its power comes from Texan wind farms. Houston, in other words, is going green. Laura Spanjian, the city’s director of sustainability, says that businesses are increasingly likely to get on board if they can see the long-term savings or the competitive advantages that flow from creating a more attractive city. She adds an important clarification: “We’re not mandating that they have to do this.” That would not go down well. Houston is the capital of America’s energy industry, and its leaders have traditionally been wary of environmental regulation, both at home and abroad. In fact the city has been sceptical of regulations in general, and even more of central planning. Houston famously has no zoning, which helps explain why the city covers some 600 square miles. It is America’s fourth-largest city by population, but less than half as densely populated as sprawling Los Angeles. People are heavily dependent on cars, the air quality is poor and access to green space is haphazard. At the same time, Houston has jobs, a low cost of living and cheap property. Many people have accepted that trade-off. Between 2000 and 2010 the greater metropolitan area added more than 1.2m people, making it America’s fastest-growing city. Still, the public is taking more interest in sustainability, and for a number of reasons. As the city’s population has swelled, the suburbs have become more crowded. Some of the growth has come from the domestic migration of young professionals with a taste for city life. And despite living in an oil-industry hub, the people of Houston are still aware of the cost of energy; during the summer of 2008, when petrol prices hovered around $4 a gallon, the papers reported a surge of people riding their bicycles to bus stops so that they could take public transport to work. The annual Houston Area Survey from Rice’s Kinder Institute also shows a change. This year’s survey found that 56% think a much better public transport system is “very important” for the city’s future. A similarly solid majority said the Metro system should use all its revenue for improvements to public transport, rather than diverting funds to mend potholes. In the 1990s, most respondents were more concerned about the roads. People’s views about houses have changed, too. In 2008 59% said they would prefer a big house with a big garden, even if that meant they had to use their car to go everywhere. Just 36% preferred a smaller house within walking distance of shops and workplaces. By 2012, preferences were running the other way: 51% liked the idea of a smaller house in a more interesting district, and only 47% said they wanted the lavish McMansion. http://www.economist.com/node/21558632
http://inhabitat.com/ https://www.facebook.com/Inhabitat About Inhabitat.com is a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future. Inhabitat was started by NYC designer Jill Fehrenbacher as a forum for investigating emerging trends in product, interior, and architectural design. Managing Editor Mike Chino leads the editorial team, while Alyssa Alimurung assists with daily business operations. The rest of the team is made up of the best design editors and writers from all over the world: Yuka Yoneda (New York Editor), Lana Winter-Hébert (Design Editor), Lucy Wang (Features Editor), Bridgette Meinhold(Architecture Editor), Jasmin Malik Chua (Copy Editor and Fashion Editor at Ecouterre) and Beth Shea(Kids and Wellness Editor). Mission GREEN DESIGN IS GOOD DESIGN GOOD DESIGN IS GREEN DESIGN Inhabitat.com is a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future. With an interest in design innovations that enhance sustainability, efficiency, and interactivity in the home, Inhabitat’s attention is focused on objects and spaces that are eco-friendly, multi-purpose, modular, and/or interactive. We believe that good design balances substance with style. We are frustrated by the fact that a lot of what we see being touted as “good design” in magazines and at stores is all style and no substance. A lot of contemporary design merely imitates the classic Modernist aesthetic without any of the idealistic social agenda that made Modernism such a groundbreaking movement back in the early 20th Century. The flip side to this is that oftentimes real technological innovations – the ones which will eventually change the way we live our lives – are often not packaged into enough of a stylish aesthetic to move beyond niche circles and crossover into mainstream popular taste. Likewise, we are frustrated at seeing an emerging category called “Green Design” – as if sustainability is somehow separate from good design in general. We believe that all design should be inherently “Green”. Good design is not about color, style or trends – but instead about thoughtfully considering the user, the experience, the social context and the impact of an object on the surrounding environment. No design can be considered good design unless it at least attempts to address some of these concerns. We believe in the original modernist ideology that form and function are intertwined in design. Style and substance are not mutually exclusive, and Inhabitat is here to prove it! Read more:Mission | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/08/21/sudan.animal.shaped.cities/index.html?hpt=C2 C'est franchement ridicule. Un des pays les plus pauvres du monde se permet de créer des villes en forme d'animaux car c'est "cute" au lieu d'investir son argent pour construire des villes qui fonctionnent. À Dubai ou en Californie je comprendrais... mais dans un des pays les plus pauvres du monde?!? Voici ce que j'ai posté dans les commentaires de l'article: "Hi, i'm an urban planner and these "animal cities" are absolutely terrible. These designs sacrifice efficiency and sustainability in favor of a "cute gimmick". You might be able to pull this off in a wealthy country like the USA, but in Sudan? Really? What an absolutely asinine idea."