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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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Can US communities learn from this European suburban retrofit?

Can US communities learn from this European suburban retrofit? | green streets | Scoop.it
In 2008, the substantially updated town center of Plessis-Robinson, a suburb of Paris, was named “the best urban neighborhood built in the last 25 years” by the European Architecture Foundation. A composite of six connected districts ranging in size from 5.6 to 59 acres, the revitalization comprises public buildings, retail, market-rate and subsidized affordable housing, parks, schools, gardens, sports facilities, and a hospital. Construction was begun in 1990 and took a decade to complete.

From the beginning, the concept was to develop a highly walkable environment, while using locally sourced materials as much as possible, and preserving wetland habitat. The town as a whole now contains seven parks and gardens amounting to over 120 acres of protected green space. (There are also three industrial and technology zones housing many of the town’s 240 companies and 11,000 employees.) Architecturally grounded in traditional French forms, the rebuilt sections look much as if they have been there for years...

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What Would It Take? The Carbon Neutral City

What Would It Take? The Carbon Neutral City | green streets | Scoop.it
What would it take to shape a planet on which people, other living things, and the systems that support us can sustainably coexist? For a special issue, Momentum magazine invited experts from around the world to share their thoughts on how we might craft solutions to some of earth’s toughest challenges. Jeremy Faludi spoke with optimist Alex Steffen about what it would take to make a city carbon neutral.

 

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New Urbanism Feature: Narrower Roads

New Urbanism Feature: Narrower Roads | green streets | Scoop.it

Walkability is one of the main features of new urbanism, and narrower streets are a part of this. (This article talks about how narrower roads often work better than wide ones.) For one, narrower roads force cars to drive slower, which makes walking safer. Other things that contribute to a community’s walkability are having buildings close to the street, having tree-lined streets, on-street parking, hidden parking lots, and rear lane garages.

By promoting walkability and building narrower streets, among other things, we build communities that are family-friendly and that encourage families to stroll through their community without worry or to let their kids go biking unsupervised. Just one of the ways we strive to make your life better and greener!

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Farm City - Huffington Post

Farm City - Huffington Post | green streets | Scoop.it

As the world's population expands and we expect to see 9 billion people on the planet by 2050 we are already thinking about the limitations and design of our spaces and our places. Already, 70 percent of fruits and vegetables grown in the United States are grown in urban edged areas with growing pressure for development. New York is also the home to 1.5 million food insecure residents people and many kids growing up in urban areas, sadly, believe that their food, literally, comes from the grocery store aisles. Instead, as volunteers and consumers flock to urban agricultural spaces there is an opportunity to learn more about food production. Community members become excited about their own role in transforming the communities in which they live, and a connection is formed between farmers and consumers, which also serves to deepen the connection between urban dwellers and the earth...

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Three Ideas for Creating Livable Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective

Three Ideas for Creating Livable Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective | green streets | Scoop.it
Image What makes a city ‘livable’? The answer depends, at least in part, on the location of the city in question.

In Sana’a, Yemen, water shortages are a frustratingly frequent occurrence, with seasonal rainfall causing major problems for the city’s residents. Yet one resident has seen an opportunity to address this challenge through the modification of existing buildings...

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The American Dream, Revised

The American Dream, Revised | green streets | Scoop.it
A new exhibit explores radical solutions for the nation's housing woes.

Saving the suburbs might mean starting essentially from scratch.

An exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art, "Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream," presents five architectural solutions to renew a depleted American suburbia. At its heart, the show is not just about architecture and design, but about blurring the traditional lines that separate public space from private space, owning from sharing, residential structures from business structures, and suburbs from cities.

“Change the dream,” reads a sign at the entrance of the show, “and you change the city.”

“Foreclosed” is the result of a months-long process in which teams made up of architects, designers, community activists, economists and others looked at creating innovative solutions to development in five disparate suburbs around the country. The sites have in common “a significant rate of foreclosure, and a considerable amount of publicly held land available for development.”

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How Green Roofs can Improve our Cities

How Green Roofs can Improve our Cities | green streets | Scoop.it

We all love a room with a view, but when it comes to planning for the future of a building we tend to forget about the world beyond its walls. We home in on the structure itself – its foundations and floors, cavities and cracks – isolating it from its natural surroundings. But the performance of a building depends very much on conditions outside.

The smartest designs are an active part of local ecosystems: they harness heat from the sun, facilitate the flow of fresh air, or take advantage of trees and hillsides for shelter. And they give back, too: habitats for wildlife, drainage for stormwater, greenery to keep a dense city block cool.

The value that local ecosystems offer urban areas is just beginning to be recognised. A recent study in New York City found its trees to be worth $122 million thanks to their part in reducing pollution, improving aesthetics, and keeping inner city temperatures comfortable...

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To stay relevant, conservationists embrace cities

To stay relevant, conservationists embrace cities | green streets | Scoop.it

Environmentalists have not always embraced cities as sustainable enclaves.

It’s easy to see why. An idyllic natural setting isn’t exactly the first thing you think of when you walk through a city. And to build modern day Manhattan, for example, a forest was essentially clear-cut.

But environmentalists are beginning to warm to the idea of the city. The notion that many people can live more efficiently on a relatively small tract of land is appealing. But even if environmentalists are hesitant to declare cities as bastions of sustainability, our world is rapidly urbanizing with or without their support...

So to stay relevant to the realities of most people in the world, the Nature Conservancy, one of the largest conservation organizations in the world, is shifting from looking just at preserving large swaths of open space — the idyllic forms of nature — to also focusing more on natural habitats in cities.

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What does the new economy mean for the shape of communities

What does the new economy mean for the shape of communities | green streets | Scoop.it

Thomas Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, believes that we are undergoing an enormous change in “how people will live and work, in how businesses will operate, and in what services and support we will need from government.” Writing in The Huffington Post, Fisher contends that the 20th-century model of large-scale, heavy industry is largely over and that the new workforce is much more independent and nimble...

So, in the end, our coalition speaker who was making the "business case for smart growth" was right that business needs urban densities, but perhaps not much longer for the traditional reasons he was citing. If the reasons matter - and Fisher, Florida, and the Dublin experience all suggest that they do - both city planners and companies will need to take note in order to ensure that they are prepared for them. Cities will still be cities, but education, retail, and workplaces may all need to change, along with government services and regulation. The companies and communities that figure this out first are likely to be the ones to succeed in the next economy. Likewise for urban advocates...

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Rooftop Farms

Rooftop Farms | green streets | Scoop.it
Brooklyn Grange, believed to be the world's largest rooftop farm, is expanding to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

 

Brooklyn Grange Farm is Expanding to a 45K Square Foot Rooftop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  This is a stunning example of urban agriculture designed to produce local food, even with limited spatial resources.


Via Seth Dixon
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Steve Westgate's comment, February 8, 2012 8:51 AM
Urban agriculture has been an excellent project to form community bonding in all the United States cities that participate. Production of the foods that are provided by urban agriculture could not feed the local population as a hole, but part of the harvests are usually donated to the local food banks for the needy. So many roof tops in our cities could be used for farming. Most of our abandoned properties could also be used for agriculture. My community has had and will have local growers, who will sell their produce rather cheap and give a portion to local shelters, food banks, and state run faculties.
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If You Want Nice People, Make Nice Places

If You Want Nice People, Make Nice Places | green streets | Scoop.it
"The biggest single obstacle to the provision of better public space is the undesirables problem," wrote William H. Whyte in his 1980 book The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. "They are themselves not too much of a problem. It is the actions taken to combat them that is the problem."

Whyte’s book has been a bible of sorts for urban planners since its release. But the municipal officials who have been running the public spaces of San Francisco have, in their zeal to keep the city’s large homeless population out of sight, ignored or forgotten Whyte’s core principle that "the best way to handle the problem of undesirables is to make a place attractive to everyone else."

Now that might be changing. A recent New York Times article says that the city is rethinking its policy of removing seating and generally making its downtown plazas as uncomfortable as possible...

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Sustainable Mobility in Future Cities

Sustainable Mobility in Future Cities | green streets | Scoop.it
The exhibition Our Cities, Ourselves commissioned 10 architects to imagine how a specific area of their cities could be transformed, with the prioritisation of pedestrians emerging as a key concept.

Towards 2030, the global urban population is expected to be 60 percent. All of the renovation projects explore how cities would be if they were redesigned for people, not cars, and follow principles for sustainable mobility drafted by Jan Gehl and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Most projects seek to create more public space and introduce alternative transportation to solve pressing issues in the selected cities...

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How to start transforming sprawl with shared personal vehicles

How to start transforming sprawl with shared personal vehicles | green streets | Scoop.it

WheelChange, an advocate for new, smart multi-modal transportation systems, asserts that a more sustainable future of personal transportation could be based on communications technology, smaller vehicles, and sharing: “By enabling a diverse set of existing and new transportation options to work together to allow an individual access to their city, one could think of this smart multimobility future as being a set of stepping stones across a river, while the conventional car ownership model is more like the large and heavy bridge.” It is the brainchild of Dan Sturges, a Colorado-based transportation designer and entrepreneur.


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Urban agriculture: Growing food in our cities

Urban agriculture: Growing food in our cities | green streets | Scoop.it

City dwellers have been growing their food for millennia, but the concept of urban agriculture been formally recognized in research and public policy since the mid 90s. The International Development Research Centre played a leading role in forging this new discipline and raising awareness of it...

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Transforming a derelict city building into vertical gardens for nearby residents | Switchboard, from NRDC

Transforming a derelict city building into vertical gardens for nearby residents | Switchboard, from NRDC | green streets | Scoop.it
Aspiring interior designer Lucie Sadakova has come up with a striking concept to bring more green space and nourishment into a scruffy part of London. And, despite being in a sense all about an outdoor activity, it is in fact an interior transformation, a proposed adaptive reuse of an old building way past its prime.

For her final degree project at university, Sadakova designed a concept she calls Multileveled Vertical Urban Allotments, which in plain English means hollowing out the guts of an old warehouse, opening up its roof and (enlarged) windows to the elements, and filling the space with a sort of stacked series of green plots that could be gardened by nearby residents...


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Good Clean Fun: Interactive Games Tidy Urban Spaces | WebUrbanist

Good Clean Fun: Interactive Games Tidy Urban Spaces | WebUrbanist | green streets | Scoop.it

It doesn’t matter where you go in the world: it seems like litter is always an unwelcome part of the scenery. The Swiss city of Lucerne decided to do something about their litter problem by enticing residents and visitors to have fun while throwing their rubbish away. The initiative is called “Lucerne Shines,” and in the many years since it was implemented the city has seen an exceptional response.

The project saw 16 public trash bins converted to public game stations. You won’t find any fancy touch-screen games, though – these games are all about cleaning up your mess and leaving the city a little prettier than you found it. From short mazes to free-throw lines to hopscotch, the initiative appeals to everyone who likes to have a little unexpected fun in the middle of an otherwise-ordinary day...

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LA Parking Lot becomes Urban Oasis

LA Parking Lot becomes Urban Oasis | green streets | Scoop.it

What’s the best place to build a wetland? How about at the site of an old MTA bus lot in South Los Angeles? It took more than $26 million and nearly three years to complete the transformation from parking lot to urban wetland. Open to the public as of February 9, the new South Los Angeles Wetland Park that doesn’t only efficiently process storm water runoff–it also provides crucial community green space.

As with many industrial environments, polluted storm water runs nearly unchecked to local water bodies, damaging habitats and freshwater supplies with the incursion of urban toxins. Before it was settled, South Los Angeles teemed with wildlife, oak forests, and dendritic streams feeding the Los Angeles River, but now that land has evolved into an impenetrable concrete cap. The new park will reactivate the area’s natural functions with storm water pools, deep cleaning retention basins, and banks of native plants chosen for their ability to clean water. The nine-acre site will also provide meandering boardwalks and promenades that traverse the wetland and create an urban oasis for an area of Los Angeles that sorely lacks green space.

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Five Approaches to Reviving Chicago’s Navy Pier

Five Approaches to Reviving Chicago’s Navy Pier | green streets | Scoop.it

Five proposals to rethink the public spaces at Navy Pier have gone on view at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The finalist teams–AECOM/BIG, Aedas/Davis Brody Bond/Martha Schwartz Partners, James Corner Field Operations, !melk/HOK/UrbanLab, and Xavier Vendrell Studio/Grimshaw Architects–use variety of approaches to revitalize the historic pier, which has long been a favored destination for tourists. Organizers hope revitalizing the pier’s public spaces will make it a world-class destination for residents as well as visitors, much like Millennium Park and the rest of the lakefront. AECOM/BIG’s proposal calls for a series of undulating ramp/bleachers that form a new landscape over much of the pier’s midsection, culminating in a new park at the tip.

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Demonizing Smart Growth - The Architect's Newspaper

Demonizing Smart Growth - The Architect's Newspaper | green streets | Scoop.it

Julie Iovine considers how urban planning got pushed into a political hot button.

Here’s a trip: Go to Google and search the words “smart growth” and “transit-oriented design.” There, on website after site, numerous thoughtful expressions describe the goals and values of planning for density that are now current in today’s urban planning and design circles. And it’s all positive stuff about how each effort creates “vibrant livable cities,” “enhances neighborhoods and involves local residents,” “protects farmland,” “provides affordable housing” and “creates spaces with a rich variety of options for living and working.” Promises of the American Dream, right?

Now step through the funhouse mirror, search for “Agenda 21” and smart growth or transit-oriented design, and fasten your seat belt. It’s rough out there. At a community meeting, an elderly lady in Maine is told that urban planners want to take her home away; the American Thinker website warns against smart-code zoning and states flatly: “Smart growth plans usurp property rights and constitutional rights.” The Heritage Foundation rails against “land use regulations that would force Americans into denser living arrangements, curtail freedom of choice in housing, discriminate against lower-income Americans”; use of bicycles, subways, and trolleys is deemed especially subversive...

Somehow, the language needs to be inverted so that the public understands that planning is not about taking away rights and spaces from individuals but rather about empowering them to set a pace and order of change that works. The anti-intellectual streak now coursing through much political discourse is dangerous not only for the future of intelligent planning but for the future, period. In any case, whether accommodated intelligently or fueled indiscriminately, growth isn’t going to stop.

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Helen Davis Johnson on Placemaking | Economics of Place

Helen Davis Johnson on Placemaking | Economics of Place | green streets | Scoop.it
Interesting places attract interesting people.

Cities that develop an increasingly large talent pool will be successful 21st century cities. Great places boast a strong identity; offering good food, and stimulating entertainment. In a strong city, there is access to successful educational systems, real opportunities to earn a respectable wage, to make valued connections and to be safe. These amenities are not accidental; they are the result of good planning and creative placemaking.

Without relevant options such as these, cities today lose credibility with bright, talented people. In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, one in which cities are competing to develop and attract talented citizens, engagement in creative placemaking activities is no longer optional...

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Don't Reinvent The Wheel, Steal It: An Urban Planning Award for Cities That Copy

Don't Reinvent The Wheel, Steal It: An Urban Planning Award for Cities That Copy | green streets | Scoop.it
The world's 567,000 mayors should be poaching each other's good ideas, not reinventing the wheel.

Cities around the world may all be struggling with the same problems, from building affordable housing to boosting internet access, but a lack of dialogue means that local governments rarely copy each other’s successful ideas. The world’s “567,000 mayors are reinventing the wheel, every single one of them with everything” they do, says Sascha Havemeyer, general director of Living Labs Global, a Copenhagen-based non-profit that encourages collaboration among the world’s cities.

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City Touch | Livable Cities

City Touch | Livable Cities | green streets | Scoop.it
By 2030 over 5 billion people will live in urban areas, resulting in larger, busier cities. City planners and architects around the world are working hard to produce innovative solutions to meet the future demands of city living.

Drawing on more than 100 years of experience in lighting, Philips has created CityTouch: an online outdoor lighting management system that enables dynamic, intelligent and flexible control on a city-wide scale. It provides light precisely when, where and in the right amount needed. When combined with LED lighting, City Touch can achieve up to 70% savings in energy and up to 70% in maintenance costs compared to conventional lighting...

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Most Americans Want a Walkable Neighborhood, Not a Big House

Most Americans Want a Walkable Neighborhood, Not a Big House | green streets | Scoop.it
It turns out most of us value nearby stores and parks rather than McMansions. Luckily, that's probably where we're headed.

The symbol of American success often involves having the biggest house possible, but our outsized fantasies seem to be shifting. According to a new survey, more than three quarters of us consider having sidewalks and places to take a walk one of our top priorities when deciding where to live. Six in 10 people also said they would sacrifice a bigger house to live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk.

For once, our preferences align with our impending reality; in the future, we may not have a choice whether or not to downsize our lifestyles. The housing bust exposed that the McMansion phenomenon is unsustainable, which has forced us to re-examine our priorities. In another study in 2010, the ideal number of square footage people desired for their houses dropped dramatically. It's becoming increasingly clear that the American dream of buying a big old house will need to be revised for the youngest generation.

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Sustainable is not enough: a call for regenerative cities

Sustainable is not enough: a call for regenerative cities | green streets | Scoop.it
Urban resource consumption and waste disposal is widely seen as the root cause of many of the world’s environmental problems.

Because so much damage has already been done to the world’s ecosystems, and solutions need to be found to reverse it, we need to start thinking of regenerative rather than just sustainable urban development.

Since the industrial revolution the process of urbanisation has become ever more resource-intensive, significantly contributing to climate change and to the loss of soil carbon, the natural fertility of farmland, and the world's biodiversity. Our ravenous appetite for resources from the world's ecosystems has severe consequences for all life on Earth, including human life. Cities have developed resource consumption and waste disposal habits that show little concern for the environmental consequences.

Fortunately in some places this seems to be changing. In the past decade concepts that capture the idea of how to future-proof our cities have arisen worldwide: smart cities, liveable cities, sustainable cities, intelligent cities, resilient cities...

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London’s First Zero-Emission Electric Taxis Hit the Streets

London’s First Zero-Emission Electric Taxis Hit the Streets | green streets | Scoop.it
ClimateCars in London have unveiled the first zero emission electric taxi - the Renault Fluence Z.E.

When it comes to clean transportation, London is charging ahead at maximum speed – not only is the city’s mayor a cycling enthusiast, but he helped to push the introduction of London’s first hydrogen fuel cell taxis just in time for the 2012 Olympics! This week The Big Smoke rolled out their first fleet of zero emission taxis, which are now making their way across the city’s busy streets...

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