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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet

Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet | green streets | Scoop.it
According to a new report on the public benefits of commuter biking, the practice can generate massive savings in health care.

The U.S. spends around $2 trillion a year on health care, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to cut back on those costs, while simultaneously improving public health and lowering carbon emissions?

Copenhagen recently published its 2012 Bicycle Account, which enumerates the considerable public benefits of commuter biking. One-third of the city’s population bikes to work, and this has benefited everything from transportation costs to security, tourism, traffic infrastructure, and public health...

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Sustainable cities of the future

Sustainable cities of the future | green streets | Scoop.it
Here are six areas where cities will likely adapt for a more sustainable future.

Most of the cities that we live and work in today are unplanned or only semi-planned. They got the way they are due to a combination of what locals wanted (housing, shops and parks), what businesses needed (factories, shipping channels) and what government interests deemed necessary (water treatment plants, incinerators). Because of the lack of plans, you see western American cities built around the car, which has exacerbated sprawl, and eastern American cities that have developed more eco-friendly public transit systems – but only because they had to.

Cities of the future likely will be much more planned, organized places. With the human population set to hit nine billion by 2050, they will require planning. At the moment, more than 50 percent of us live in cities, and that number is expected to top 70 percent by the century’s end. In high-growth places, like China and India, entire cities are being constructed from the ground up. Find below just six of the new ideas we will likely see in sustainable cities of the future.

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New Urbanism Now

New Urbanism Now | green streets | Scoop.it
In terms of ecological and cultural sustainability, only a rarified echelon matches the spectrum of excellence in a recent mixed-use redevelopment project in downtown Berkeley, California.

The project replaced a surface parking lot in a core urban area with two buildings: a 97-unit affordable-apartment building and a LEED Platinum office facility for environmental and social-justice organizations, with retail shops at street level and parking underground — sited together across the street from the University of California, Berkeley campus and within walking distance of numerous transit connections...

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Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood'

Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood' | green streets | Scoop.it
Energy efficient, pedestrian friendly, conveniently located, and full of green innovations, the eco-city Arkadien Winnenden makes a pretty good case for the title.

Economically depressed and the site of a tragic school shooting in 2009, the small German suburb of Winnenden didn't have much appeal despite its low home prices and proximity to Stuttgart. But an award-winning eco-friendly development is turning the town in a new direction.

The architecture firm Atelier Dreiseitl, which also recently transformed Singapore's Bishan Park, calls its new Arkadien Winnenden development "the world’s most sustainable neighborhood."

Formerly home to an abandoned factory, the site's contaminated soil was remediated and recycled, as was existing concrete. Each house in the neighborhood has a high energy-efficiency rating and priority was given to non-toxic, locally sourced materials during construction. The competitively priced homes are connected by pedestrian-friendly streets and shared public spaces, though they also have private gardens, terraces, and roof gardens...

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Urban Green Streets: City Gardens and Greenspace

Urban Green Streets: City Gardens and Greenspace | green streets | Scoop.it

City green space and city gardens are a way to create integration with nature in urban settings.

All cities were once expanses of trees and wildlife, and, sadly, they have been paved over with concrete. Joni Mitchell said it best – ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’ City residents are making a big effort to turn that around and bring nature back to the city and maybe slow down the hustle and bustle.
City street landscaping has generally been a line of trees along the curb, if there were any at all. Now, flower, herb and vegetable gardens are popping up along sidewalks to beautify neighborhoods...

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Remember the Edges! Placemaking for Communities

Remember the Edges!  Placemaking for Communities | green streets | Scoop.it

One of the key principles to remember when trying to create a great public square is that the inner square and outer square must work together. Active edges (sidewalk cafes, museums, shops) feed into the center; in turn, a lively scene at the heart of a square creates a buzz that draws more people to the area, generating more activity for edge uses. It’s symbiotic!

The video above illustrates this principle using imagery from our study of Alamo Plaza in San Antonio, Texas. Home to one of the most iconic buildings in America, the plaza itself is more of a place to stand for a photo op than a place where people linger and enjoy. As you can see, creating a sense of connection and flow between the inner and outer square is key to success.

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The Glorious Return of the World's Smallest Street-Legal Car

The Glorious Return of the World's Smallest Street-Legal Car | green streets | Scoop.it
How would you like to own a car so compact that you could pick it up and carry it into your apartment at night?

 

That's not an exaggeration. The Peel P50 is buglike enough that you can practically juggle three of them. And about that owning part: Although the only automobile ever manufactured on the Isle of Man fell out of production in 1965, the company that now manages the Peel line is sending the microcars buzzing back to the streets of England, where we can only hope they will seek out their natural mate, the Roomba, and breed to create a race of trash-eating vehicles...

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The Streetcar As a City's Moving Symbol

The Streetcar As a City's Moving Symbol | green streets | Scoop.it
A survey of light rail aesthetics from around the world.

With shrinking government budgets and transit usage on the rise, the above-ground streetcar (or tram) is making a comeback. Beyond their efficiency (not to mention their affordability compared to subway expansions), streetcars add a visual charm to any city, no matter the make or model or even the location it serves.

Still, in many ways, the type of rail car a city employs can say a lot about the place. Some of the older ones can suggest a city's affinity for it's history (Milan) or perhaps its lower budget (Poznan). New ones can suggest a city's growing density levels (Seattle and San Diego) or just its attempts to modernize (Athens and Lisbon).

The diversity of cityscapes as well as an equally diverse set of streetcar designs ended up making for a more interesting tour than expected...

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Toward an Architecture of Place: Moving Beyond Iconic to Extraordinary

Toward an Architecture of Place: Moving Beyond Iconic to Extraordinary | green streets | Scoop.it

We all realize that a “sense of place” is of fundamental value to people everywhere — in every city, every town, every neighborhood, and every culture, for all ages.

At least, that is what the average person recognizes instinctively. It is a fundamental reality that all too often is missing from the discussion when it comes to architecture and design.

We want to steer the discussion about architecture and design toward the idea of place, and how it can contribute to healthy, comfortable, engaging public spaces and destinations. We will do that by examining both positive and negative examples. Our idea of an “Architecture of Place” is about creating design that ennobles people — that makes them feel empowered, important, and excited to be in the places they inhabit in their daily lives.

Whether we like the buildings as pure formal objects is another matter, and not of primary significance. What is truly significant is whether architecture creates a place. When we discuss a building, that criterion should be as important as whether it is “green” or “sustainable” or “iconic.”

 

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New York City Commits to Green Solution for Harnessing Water

New York City Commits to Green Solution for Harnessing Water | green streets | Scoop.it
With a landmark announcement this week, New York City has officially joined a growing number of cities around the country in embracing a smarter--and paradigm-shifting--approach to reducing water pollution. Using a suite of techniques like strategically located street plantings, porous pavements, and green roofs, collectively known as green infrastructure, New York is turning the problem of excess stormwater into a solution that will improve the health and livability of its neighborhoods, while cleaning up the waterways that course through and around the city.

It's hard to overstate what a dramatic shift in thinking this represents. Instead of viewing stormwater as waste, New York is turning it into a resource. With this move, New York is showing the rest of the country that if the largest city in the U.S. can finally tackle its chronic water pollution problems with green infrastructure--they can, too.

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The Future of the City: Density, Sustainability, and Citizen ...

The Future of the City: Density, Sustainability, and Citizen ... | green streets | Scoop.it
Many young Americans are seeking out denser areas, and it’s not difficult to understand why. In the 1960s, about half of households in the U.S. consisted of nuclear families; in 2011, that group only makes up a fifth of the population, noticeably less than the number of single adults living by themselves. The demand for density, then, is tied back into the need for social contact, which is no longer satisfied entirely by home life (if it ever really was.) As planners move forward, the importance of a city that facilitates not just the economic development but the emotional health of its communities cannot be overstated.
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A 'Vertical Greenhouse' Could Make a Swedish City Self-Sufficient

A 'Vertical Greenhouse' Could Make a Swedish City Self-Sufficient | green streets | Scoop.it
Growing these plants in the city will make food production less costly both for the environment and for consumers.

The future of urban farming is under construction in Sweden as agricultural design firm Plantagon works to bring a 12-year-old vision to life: The city of Linköping will soon be home to a 17-story "vertical greenhouse."

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Explaining Transit's Secret Language

Explaining Transit's Secret Language | green streets | Scoop.it
In his new book, blogger-turned-author Jarrett Walker shows how transportation really works.

 

Walker, a consultant known for his Human Transit blog, sees his audience as "a curious and thoughtful person who cares about whether we find our way to more rational forms of urban mobility." To that end he clarifies many misguided perceptions held by those concerned with better transit development.

Instead of focusing on speed, we should elevate frequency; instead of debating technology (e.g. light rail v. bus) we should consider geometry; instead of glorifying direct service we should build more connections; instead of linking transit with restraint we should associate it with the "freedom to move."

Walker recently offered a few more transit insights to the humans who read Atlantic Cities...

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No vacancy: Unleashing the potential of empty urban land

No vacancy: Unleashing the potential of empty urban land | green streets | Scoop.it

A group of volunteers in Brooklyn mapped all the vacant city-owned properties in the borough, and discovered a remarkable amount of unused real estate...

Less than a year old, 596 Acres is the work of a small core of volunteers, including Paula Z. Segal, a lawyer and lead facilitator for the group. Segal first got interested in the city-owned vacant lots because of a site known as Myrtle Village Green, near where she lived at the time.

Researching the site, Segal learned how much data was available on vacant city land that had not yet been locked down by developers — and she got excited about the potential uses for that space. She presented some of her findings at the Festival of Ideas for the New City last year, and that’s where she met Eric Breisford, a programmer who, like her, is involved in a variety of other projects having to do with access to public space, public data, and decent food. The duo quickly got to work on making the data more accessible in both digital and paper formats.

Together they worked to get a map printed that showed the data they had gathered, and an online version as well. They researched a few lots in greater detail, then wheatpasted the printed maps to foam core boards along with explanations of “what’s going on here,” and posted those at a few lots around Brooklyn...

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Scaling the Urban Future by Blending the Urban Past | Sustainable Cities Collective

Scaling the Urban Future by Blending the Urban Past | Sustainable Cities Collective | green streets | Scoop.it

Recently, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Seattle-based Preservation Green Lab made urbanist media headlines (including Emily Badger’s January 25 Atlantic Cities story) with a report stating the environmental benefits of green retrofits of historic buildings, as compared to new, state-of-the-art, energy-efficient construction. In addition, a local church restored as townhouses joined the list of intriguing Seattle adaptive reuse projects typical of national trends.

 

As our surroundings evolve, can we create incentives and inspiration for transformational places that are sustainable in form, function and attention to the past? I have touched on these questions before, when highlighting hill towns as placemaking icons and profiling Italy’s re-emerging Matera, the UNESCO World Heritage site also termed “the sustainable city of stone” (in The Atlantic last year)...

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Freeways Without Futures | Congress for the New Urbanism

Freeways Without Futures | Congress for the New Urbanism | green streets | Scoop.it
The “Freeways Without Futures” list recognizes the top-ten locations in North America where the opportunity is greatest to stimulate valuable revitalization by replacing aging urban highways with boulevards and other cost-saving urban alternatives. The list was generated from an open call for nominations and prioritized based on factors including the age of the structure, redevelopment potential, potential cost savings, ability to improve both overall mobility and local access, existence of pending infrastructure decisions, and local support.

Cities around the world are replacing urban highways with surface streets, saving billions of dollars on transportation infrastructure and revitalizing adjacent land with walkable, compact development. Transportation models that support connected street grids, improved transit, and revitalized urbanism will make reducing gasoline dependency and greenhouse gas emissions that much more convenient. It pays to consider them as cities evaluate their renewal strategies — and as the U.S. evaluates its federal transportation and climate policy...

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praud: urban intervention for seattle center

praud: urban intervention for seattle center | green streets | Scoop.it
floating above the parkscape, this large balloon serves as a screen to announce events while interacting with visitors, altering states with the continuously changing atmospheric conditions.

Boston-based practice praud has proposed the 'seattle jelly bean' as an urban intervention for seattle center in washington, USA. Hearkening back to the old days, a large balloon hovers above the parkscape to serve as a beacon to announce events to the public. Doubling as a projection screen, the element interacts with visitors by altering states with the continuously changing atmospheric conditions or by demand of visitors. the floating object produces a microclimate ranging from fog, sunshine, clouds and rain. The paths of the park below are generated from entry points which address the general city grid, creating a topography of solids and voids. Varied heights allow for different types of functions and fields generating different experiences

for pedestrians and joggers...

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What Communities Should Do To Protect Against Climate Change

What Communities Should Do To Protect Against Climate Change | green streets | Scoop.it
Nine low-tech steps we can take to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Over the past 50 years, our average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in history. That is fact; this is not abstract, nor are the effects limited to the developing world.

 

These changes will have - indeed, are already having - major effects on our cities, suburbs, and towns.

 There are many things we can and must do to reduce the warming trajectory. First among these is reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common and potent greenhouse gas, particularly by transitioning to a clean energy economy. But turning this ship around is going to take time, even under the best scenarios.

Meanwhile, there are also measures we need to take right now inside our communities so that we are as prepared as possible for the warmer climate ahead. Some of them are related to technology, of course, perhaps including personal technology.

This article focuses on a few things that we can and should do for our cities, suburbs and towns that are low-tech. What’s below is by no means a definitive or complete list, but it’s a start...

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EU Summit maps out the future for cities

EU Summit maps out the future for cities | green streets | Scoop.it
What is a sustainable city? What kind of pressure do our urban spaces have to face? What examples can small and medium cities set and how can their successes be reproduced around Europe? Some of the lessons are being learned at the 5th European Summit of Regions and Cities, in Copenhagen.

Approximately half of the world’s total population lives in urban areas. By 2030 80% of Europeans are expected to live in cities. This is why sustainable urban development is acquiring a crucial dimension in the debate over future European policies. Often local and regional areas manage to stand out for their eco-friendly practices, becoming open laboratories of sustainability, as the title of the summit suggests, “The European urban fabric in the 21st century”.

“Historically cities have always been innovation centres, but it is especially from the typical medium-sized European city that innovation starts. Now even the Chinese have discovered that small is beautiful, or better, middle-sized is beautiful. They have found that cities of 500,000 to 600,000 residents are much more sustainable, and they are building medium-sized urban areas to avoid their cities turning into megalopoli,” says President of the Committee of Regions Mercedes Bresso...

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Photo Tour: What Will It Take To Make Our Cities 100% Green?

Photo Tour: What Will It Take To Make Our Cities 100% Green? | green streets | Scoop.it

The last fifty years have witnessed a steep worldwide increase in percentages of population living in cities. Home to over half of the world’s population on only two percent of the earth, cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70 percent of global CO2 emissions.

A recent UN report warns that urban areas are set to become the battleground in the effort to curb climate change. Cities and human settlements, if done right, are the places that offer the greatest opportunities not only in reducing greenhouse gases but in creating the kind of infrastructures that enable large numbers of people to live in balance with the earth's ecosystem...

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Planning for Art - The Architect's Newspaper

Planning for Art - The Architect's Newspaper | green streets | Scoop.it

Chicago revising cultural and economic development strategy.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long been a vocal supporter of the arts. Now City Hall is coordinating an extensive outreach effort to check Chicago’s creative pulse, seeking comment on the city’s first new cultural plan in more than 25 years.

After his election in February 2011, Emanuel directed the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) to revamp the Chicago Cultural Plan, which was created in 1986 under Mayor Harold Washington. DCASE launched a website in January to coordinate its efforts. They are expected to produce a draft plan by early summer.

“The arts are political,” said attorney Michael Dorf, who directed the process that created Mayor Washington’s plan. “They enrich us, they enrage us, they move us to action. And anything that does that is political.”

Formerly special counsel to Sidney R. Yates, chairman of the congressional appropriations committee, Dorf wanted to democratize cultural planning with the 1986 planning process. Instead of press conferences and backrooms, he said, the city should borrow from the basics of grassroots organizing.

It’s an approach Chicago’s current cultural commissioner, Michelle Boone, has revived for the 2012 plan. With the help of social media, Boone said her department is taking stock of the city’s existing cultural assets, identifying opportunities for “cultural hubs.”

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Earth-Shaped City Adapts To Nature's Smart Design - EarthTechling

Earth-Shaped City Adapts To Nature's Smart Design - EarthTechling | green streets | Scoop.it
The year 2008 marked the first time in history that more than half of the world’s human population live in towns and cities rather than rural areas. The UN predicts that by 2030, this number will swell to almost 5 billion, with urban growth concentrated in African and Asian mega-cities. As cities get bigger, larger, and higher, it will become increasingly hard to maintain any sort of connection with wild, untouched nature. Although urban designers attempt to recreate it, no landscaped park will ever be able to match the feeling of standing in a field untouched by human hands.

Fear of losing our connection with nature compelled Swiss designer Charly Duchosal to imagine a city designed to adapt to nature, rather than forcing things to be the other way around. The result, which envisions life lived inside the Earth, rather than on its surface, recently won an honorable mention in eVolo’s 2012 Skyscraper competition...

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NYC's High Line: round 3

NYC's High Line: round 3 | green streets | Scoop.it

As one of the most well-known and popular urban revitalization projects in recent memory, New York's High Line has proven the effectiveness and impact of adaptive reuse and urban green space.

The completed High Line will integrate into its surroundings as it wraps around the proposed Hudson Yards development, a commercial and residential district west of Eighth Ave, the 'once-desolate area of factories, lofts and parking lots' (NY Times) that was the designated site proposed for New York's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

Features of the latest design include a passageway to this future complex, as well as the largest open gathering space along the High Line, currently designed with amphitheater-type seating, and an extensive children's play area...

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Are Satellite Cities the Key to the Future? - The Atlantic Cities

Are Satellite Cities the Key to the Future? - The Atlantic Cities | green streets | Scoop.it

The car-free solar city model was influenced by the work of Ebenezer Howard and Paolo Soleri, and more recently by the principles of new urbanism.

From a land use perspective, satellite cities and urban infill de­­vel­­opment are the best ways to accommodate population growth while preserving open space and farmland. The alternative is urban sprawl.

Satellite cities, like those that circle Stockholm, Singapore, and Tokyo, typically have a population ranging from 30,000 to 250,000. These planned cities are surrounded by greenbelt areas and are connected to the greater metropolitan area by an efficient rail system.

Satellite cities differ from suburbs, subdivisions, and bedroom communities in that they have municipal governments distinct from that of the core metropolis and employment bases sufficient to support their resident populations.

Theoretically, a satellite city could be self-sufficient, but what occurs in the satellite city/metropolis constellation is a pattern of cross-commuting, driven by housing costs and urban economics. The jobs/housing balance rarely yields a 50/50 directional split in travel flows; however, establishing mixed-use satellite nodes, similar to a necklace of pearls, with good land use management and rail transit services can go a long way toward achieving such balance...

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Urban Identity: Citizens and their Cities | This Big City | Sustainable Thinking

Urban Identity: Citizens and their Cities | This Big City | Sustainable Thinking | green streets | Scoop.it
Are you your city? Not the usual question one might ask, but in a way, we are all part of our cities, for without citizens they would not be what they are. But what role does the citizen play in shaping a city’s identity, and vice versa?
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