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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
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Heat from North American cities causing warmer winters, study finds

Heat from North American cities causing warmer winters, study finds | green streets | Scoop.it

Researchers say extra heat generated by huge cities explains additional warming not explained by existing climate models.


Those who wonder why large parts of North America seem to be skipping winter have a new answer in addition to climate change: big city life.

A study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that the heat thrown off by major metropolitan areas on America's east coast caused winter warming across large areas of North America, thousands of miles away from those cities.


Scientists have for years been trying to untangle how big cities – with the sprawl of buildings and cars – affect climate. The study suggests cities themselves have far-reaching effects on climate, in addition to the climate pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels.


Via SustainOurEarth, Digital Sustainability
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Brittany Ortiz's curator insight, September 29, 5:15 PM

Very interesting reading this. It seems quite true since the past winter didn't seem as cold as most winters here in Rhode Island. If the big cities cause the winter to be less cool then in the future, would winter even be cold? Lets hope and say this problem will never happen.

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Top 10 best and worst cities to live | SmartPlanet

Top 10 best and worst cities to live | SmartPlanet | green streets | Scoop.it
A new ranking measures city characteristics like sprawl, green space, and pollution to determine livability.

The Economist Intelligence Unit — the city rankings specialists — has a new list claiming the best cities to live. And they have an interesting new livability metrics to judge the world’s cities.

The rankings combined EIU’s popular “Liveability Index” with a new measure that focuses on spatial characteristics. The “Spatially Adjusted Livability Index” takes into account seven characteristics:

 

-Sprawl: using the ”estimated relation between the metropolitan region’s surface and its total population, the overall coherence of the metropolitan form and an estimate of the extent of low density urban fabric.”

-Green space: based on ”the distribution of green spaces within the metropolitan region, the number of local green spaces and the number of metropolitan scale green spaces.”

-Natural assets: using “Google Earth satellite imagery and information from Open Street Map to assign points to cities based on the natural features” and the number of protected areas around a city center.

-Cultural assets: counting the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the vicinity of the cities.

-Connectivity: calculating how many cities can be reached by plane from a city and the average number of flights from that city.

-Isolation: based on the number of large cities near a city.

-Pollution: using World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Air Pollution in Cities database to calculate air quality with a concentration of particulate matter of over 10 micrometres...

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Megacities: Three Ways to Fix US Suburbs from the Inside Out

Megacities: Three Ways to Fix US Suburbs from the Inside Out | green streets | Scoop.it
The US suburbs might be unsustainable, but changing the living arrangements of tens of millions of Americans isn’t as easy as simply changing their tastes in geography. Here’s three problems and three potential fixes for our neighbours in the sprawl.

 

Changing the living arrangements of tens of millions of Americans isn’t as easy as simply changing their tastes in geography. Sure, cities are getting more desirable for young, creative Americans, but how many can afford to stay in the city when they start a family and need to move out of their closet-sized studio? And can you blame the couple that wants their own patch of green without having to wake up the sound of garbage trucks and revelers at 4 AM?

The suburbs resemble that escape hatch from the pressures of city life. It’s the easy way out. Walking 5 blocks to the dirty, either freezing or boiling subway to wait for a train and get to the crowded and overpriced grocery store, or hop in your car, drive five minutes, and not have to carry your groceries more than 60 collective feet.

 

But the suburbs are far from perfection, breeding inefficiencies and inequalities of the economic, environmental and demographic form. They can’t be unbuilt though, so here’s a list of current problems and potential fixes for our neighbours in the sprawl...

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Charlotte's Evolution from Sprawling Metropolis to City of Sidewalks

Charlotte's Evolution from Sprawling Metropolis to City of Sidewalks | green streets | Scoop.it
How the city conquered its sprawl to create a bustling downtown.

Not too long ago, Charlotte, North Carolina, was an emerging metropolis attempting to solve its explosive population growth issues through sprawling development. However, over the past 20 years, it has consciously reinvented itself as a city of sidewalks.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Charlotte had fewer than 20,000 residents. By 2000, the city had a population of 540,800. In fact, from 2000 to 2010, no American city with one million or more people grew faster than Charlotte. Over that 20-year period, Charlotte shifted from a largely agricultural and manufacturing region into the region’s urban center with a financial stronghold.

Initially, the city dealt with the onslaught of residents by building more roads and developing office space in the suburbs. Growth was accompanied by the familiar issues of sprawl, congestion, and urban decay.

But Charlotte's top-tier workforce rebelled. 

The regional economic development partnership brought in an Urban Land Institute advisory services panel of real estate and land use planning experts to study the city's downtown...

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Are Urban Microcenters the Solution to Urban Sprawl?

Are Urban Microcenters the Solution to Urban Sprawl? | green streets | Scoop.it
During the last decades, the conurbation problem in large cities has increased, reaching alarming levels.

At present, the average time a person needs to travel from home to a workplace is around 4 hours, which represents a total loss of 20 hours every week, that is, 80 hours per month, 960 hours yearly, which translates into a total of 40 days in traffic a year.

This is reflected in time loss, otherwise destined for leisure, quality of life, time spent with family, in addition to the obvious heavy traffic, which results in enormous energy costs for moving this population, and this translates in huge CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, in other words, “pollution”.

Hence, the need to create urban microcenters, that are located in central areas in the city, where the necessary infrastructure for transportation, subway systems, metro buses, buses, etc., as well as water supply, sewage, energy power, is already present. Moreover, they integrate elements in the design of their façades and facilities that allow reductions of resources and generated waste; also, they are mostly vertical urban groups that merge different activities on one place, integrating housing, offices, commerce, hotels, fun, and mostly, public spaces in squares, gardens on the ground floor or even on higher levels. The objective is to reduce the need to travel around the city, which at the same time has a direct bearing on traffic density. This allows the quality of life of users, to improve, which makes the city more efficient...

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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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The new economy: work closer, live smaller, connect better

The new economy: work closer, live smaller, connect better | green streets | Scoop.it

The Urban Land Institute’s latest forward-looking report for the real estate industry has lots of hopeful news for the environment, if perhaps also some sobering news for the economy. Titled What’s Next? Real Estate in the New Economy (print edition here, download here), the core of the 116-page analysis is divided into chapters titled Work, Live, Connect, Renew, Move, and Invest. It is the latest in an excellent series of trend-watching reports from the industry association and think tank, and was unveiled in late October at the Institute’s annual conference.

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Will downtown comebacks, entrepreneurs reverse commercial sprawl?

Will downtown comebacks, entrepreneurs reverse commercial sprawl? | green streets | Scoop.it

Given the decline in demand for sprawl housing, it is inevitable that demand for commercial sprawl will decline as well. There is little question that for an abundance of reasons future development in America – both commercial and residential – is going to be more urban, more walkable, and less sprawling. The communities that prosper most as the 21st century matures will be the ones that recognize these shifts and welcome them with the right kind of planning, development, and amenities.

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Maryland's Governor Explains his War on Sprawl

Maryland's Governor Explains his War on Sprawl | green streets | Scoop.it

Maryland is running out of space. For decades now, a trend toward low-density development - in a word, sprawl - has created a lifestyle threatens the state's farmland, cities, and the Chesapeake Bay. An antidote has arrived in the form of PlanMaryland, a statewide smart growth plan that encourages the development of high-density residential pockets along established lines of infrastructure. The hope is that this effort will produce a stronger Baltimore-Washington mega-region, and a more sustainable quality of life.

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City growth worldwide intensifies sprawl concerns, study finds

City growth worldwide intensifies sprawl concerns, study finds | green streets | Scoop.it

A new study, co-authored by Yale urban environment professor Karen C. Seto, predicts a major global expansion of urban land over the next two decades. The study, which was published in the Aug. 18 issue of the journal PLosOne, projects that by 2030, cities will gain an amount of land roughly equal to that of Mongolia. This extensive and rapid growth will pose significant challenges to urban environments, the researchers said.

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Sprawl Repair: From Auto-Scale to Human-Scale :: DesignIntelligence

Sprawl Repair: From Auto-Scale to Human-Scale :: DesignIntelligence | green streets | Scoop.it
Leveraging design, policy, and incentives, sprawl can be transformed into complete communities with balanced uses and transportation options.
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How sprawl worsens the impacts of drought & how smart growth can help...

How sprawl worsens the impacts of drought & how smart growth can help... | green streets | Scoop.it
Our country is experiencing its worst drought in over half a century. Sprawling land use is not the cause of drought, but it can exacerbate drought's impacts in at least two ways.

 

If you live in the US and have been outside lately, chances are you don’t need to be reminded that this is the hottest summer many of us can remember, and also one of the driest, following a relatively dry winter and spring.

As written earlier this week on CNN, our country is experiencing its worst drought in over 50 years. At least 55 % of the US was in moderate-to-severe drought last month, and things have only gotten worse, as June 2012 ranks as the third-driest month nationally in 118 years. Among consequences: 38 percent of the corn planted in the 18 leading corn-producing states is considered to be in poor or very poor condition, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

I’m not naïve enough to claim that the way we have built suburbs over the last few decades is a proximate cause of drought, but sprawling land use can exacerbate its impacts in at least a couple ways. First, the large-lot residential development characteristic of sprawl uses significantly more water than do neighborhoods built to a more walkable scale...

The second way in which sprawl exacerbates the impacts of drought is by with more pavement around watersheds, which send billions of gallons of rainwater into streams and rivers as polluted runoff, rather than into the soil to replenish groundwater...

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The Cost of Sprawl on Clean Water

The Cost of Sprawl on Clean Water | green streets | Scoop.it
The way we grow could have a major impact on water quality in the future.

Sustainable, smart growth and development is necessarily about location, form and function. Becoming greener doesn’t just mean a municipality’s adding a pleasant new park here and there, or planting more trees, although both components may be useful parts of a larger effort.

How a town is designed and developed is related to how well it functions, how well it functions is related to how sustainable it really is, and how sustainable it is, is directly related to how it affects its local waters and those who use those same waters downstream...

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The right approach to green, inclusive revitalization

The right approach to green, inclusive revitalization | green streets | Scoop.it

  When it is done well - with inclusion, affordability, environmental and cultural sensitivity, and attention to great placemaking - few things are as good for our communities as reinvestment in aging neighborhoods. 

It’s the ultimate win-win-win: improving environmental quality and people habitat while absorbing new development without sprawl. I am pleased to report that I have found another fantastic-looking example to add to my list of favorites.

I suppose I should no longer be surprised when great, environmentally sensitive community-building comes out of the Pacific Northwest, but I can still be impressed. If you’re looking for exemplary revitalization with new, first-class green infrastructure, community facilities and mixed-income housing, take a look at what’s happening in the Sunset district of Renton, Washington, a city of about 90,000 people south of Seattle...

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Regionalism Now: placemaking + emergent vernacular

Regionalism Now: placemaking + emergent vernacular | green streets | Scoop.it

Reconsidering placemaking in the age of globalization...

 

In an ever more interconnected and globalized world, the concept of regionalism seems both out of step and more relevant than ever. And the architects associated with an architecture of place are keenly aware that—whatever the wider world thinks—their work is not based on a menu of fixed typologies but on adaptive values. Regionalism today is not about quoting barns and silo-shaped houses but rather actively engaging with the deeper forces driving specifics of form—whether it’s time, culture, climate or cost.

Critic David D'Arcy reexamines Kenneth Frampton's canonical essay on Critical Regionalism with fresh eyes, while AN editors survey projects and practitioners that are carving out new principles as they engage with—or resist—the notion of regionalism...

 

Read more at the complete article.

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New urbanism: Old-fashioned design in for long run

New urbanism: Old-fashioned design in for long run | green streets | Scoop.it
Peter Calthorpe, another pioneer of new urbanism, believes the movement will continue to be a strong force. Housing developments that reduce the dependence on the automobile are gaining in acceptance, said Calthorpe, principal of Calthorpe Associates in Berkeley, Calif.

"The nation can't afford sprawl," said Calthorpe, adding that sprawl was curbed by the housing meltdown. He is a strong advocate of transit-oriented development. One of the main components of new urbanism, transit-oriented development calls for neighborhoods with a mix of moderate- to high-density housing within walking or biking distance of mass transit...

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Rust Belt Cities: to Avoid Demographic Loss, Protect & Strengthen the Core

Rust Belt Cities: to Avoid Demographic Loss, Protect & Strengthen the Core | green streets | Scoop.it
A close look at population data reveals that, while the populations within central cities’ jurisdictional boundaries have declined substantially, their suburbs have actually grown. The result is that, if one defines “city” as the contiguous urbanized area within a metro region, regardless of political boundaries – the definition that matters to the economy and the environment – the shrinkage may vanish or be shown as far less than we think.

In short, “shrinking cities” have really been hollowing out more than shrinking...

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Smaller, more sustainable living in neighborhoods that fit in

Smaller, more sustainable living in neighborhoods that fit in | green streets | Scoop.it

When talking about reducing the footprint of our living patterns on the landscape and the earth’s limited resources, I always stress that this does not necessarily mean high-rises or even multi-family living at all. Those can be perfectly accessible pathways to sustainability for people who prefer them, but one can also have sustainably designed neighborhoods of single-family homes on moderately sized lots. The lots can be even smaller without sacrificing access to the outdoors if ample shared green space is integrated into the setting. Ultimately, more sustainable living patterns need to be about a diversity of choices within a community, rather than the ghettoes of identically sized and styled housing products typically offered during the recent heyday of sprawl

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Quantified: The Price of Sprawl in Florida

Quantified: The Price of Sprawl in Florida | green streets | Scoop.it

We all know sprawl is costly to local communities. Roads, schools, sewers: It all adds up.

But the total price-tag is hard to determine, and that ambiguity undermines efforts at reform. What qualifies as sprawl? How much additional infrastructure is needed to support it?

That’s why it’s exciting that a group of concerned Florida homeowners has tackled this difficult question. Florida communities pay dearly for “growth” that is often sold as a win-win. In reality, every dollar generated by new development in Florida costs taxpayers $1.34-$2.45. The more rural the setting, the higher the cost.

This project, presented as an interactive map, allows Floridians to see how sprawling development affects their local taxes and home values. Numbers were determined using existing impact studies and local comprehensive plans.

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A Farm-Based Neighborhood Grows in Illinois

A Farm-Based Neighborhood Grows in Illinois | green streets | Scoop.it
Many communities complain about suburban sprawl, but not many really do anything about it. One developer, however, has found a way to contain sprawl and conserve working farms at the same time.

Developer John DeWald & Associates recently broke ground on Serosun Farms, an innovative conservation community situated over 400 acres of countryside.

“The vision of Serosun Farms is to protect and preserve our land from future development and suburban sprawl,” says John DeWald, one of the principals in the firm. The company hopes to blend agricultural preservation and sustainable living in one neighborhood where much of the needed energy will be produced on site and all the homes will be high-performance buildings.

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Learn from past for better urban future

Learn from past for better urban future | green streets | Scoop.it
For the past 20 years, Western countries have mistaken urban sprawls as the symbol of urban development. The car-dependent lifestyle this mistake has created is, in fact, a failure of urban development.
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