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Sustainable Futures
Things to do, consider and act on to create a sustainable future for people and planet
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How Five Cities Improved Their Water Supply at the Source

How Five Cities Improved Their Water Supply at the Source | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it
According to a new report released by The Nature Conservancy, investing in the water upstream from your city just might help secure water for urbanites. The project, titled Urban Water Blueprint, maps several city’s watersheds by combining hydrological models and data from the City Water Map, to convey where 534 large cities get their water from. The ultimate implication is that there is a more sustainable approach to engineer the water flow to our amenities and even save millions of dollars, as New York City has since adopting the Safe Drink Water Act in the nineties.

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5 Cities Revolutionizing the Role of the Urban Train Station

A recent Washington Post feature entitled “Reimagining Union Station,” discusses the proposed expansion and redevelopment of Union Station in Washington, DC, a transit hub with the daily task of servicing nearly 100,000 train, bus, and subway passengers.

Despite its vital and iconic qualities, the Station suffers from a variety of structural and programmatic inefficiencies, and reminds us of the effects transportation-oriented design has on an urban environment, and the importance of maintaining a high degree of density within our cities. In the article, several other stations around the world are highlighted — particularly Grand Central Station in New York City, as good examples of how train stations ought to be designed. Stations such as the SSB Train Station in Basel, Switzerland, the Berlin Central Station in Germany, the Salzburg Central Station in Austria and the redevelopment plans for Los Angeles's Union Station match his description, both honoring the commuter experience while enhancing their larger role within the urban environment...


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Social Physics: The city as network

Social Physics: The city as network | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

Traditionally, cities have been viewed as the sum of their locations – the buildings, monuments, squares and parks that spring to mind when we think of ‘New York’, ‘London’ or ‘Paris’.

In The new science of cities, Michael Batty argues that a more productive approach is to think of cities in terms of flows, connections and relationships – in other words, as a network. Places like Times Square or the Champs Elysée are not big, famous or busy because of their inherent qualities, but rather because they sit at the intersections of movements of people, wealth, information, or power...

 


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The Closest Look Yet at the Relative Energy Efficiency of Big Buildings

The Closest Look Yet at the Relative Energy Efficiency of Big Buildings | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

New York City's largest buildings have as outsized a place in the city's energy use profile as they do in the skyline. Just 2% of New York's properties account for 48% of the city's energy use. 

What's a city to do? The Bloomberg administration is doing what it does best: crunching massive amounts of data. On Wednesday, the mayor released the city's second annual benchmarking report, which analyzes the year-to-year energy and water use of New York's 26,680 largest buildings. 

"It's the first time we've had access to this comparative information," says Melissa Wright, an associate director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s City Energy Project who has worked in the Bloomberg administration. "For so long it was this hidden information about what the real energy performance was of a set of buildings or individual buildings."

Visit the link for more...


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Can Architects Solve Our Cities’ Pollution Problems?

Can Architects Solve Our Cities’ Pollution Problems? | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

As populations continue to move to urban areas, architects must address how their designs will impact the cities they are trying to improve— and those inhabitants whose access to clean air is determined by their proposals. How can architects best use design to repair the health of our cities?


Visit the article link for project links and an overview of some of the innovative ways architecture addresses climate change, air quality, emissions and is rethinking our cities through design, technology and new approaches to sustainable urbanism...


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The sustainable city: Public transit isn't just for tree-huggers

The sustainable city: Public transit isn't just for tree-huggers | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

The most dynamic skyline in the world won't create a sustainable city. Only a population that enjoys physical, social, political, and economic health — resources that functioning cities are uniquely positioned to deliver — can do that.

Of course, no single solution will achieve this unilaterally. A city with thriving, educated residents is produced by a combination of various civil and social services and infrastructure — including an established and expanding mass transit system.

Why is transit so important? Simply put, it provides access to the city's aforementioned resources for everyone, regardless of economic or social status. Transit helps bridge the ever-growing gap between those who can afford cars (or other private modes of transportation) and those who cannot...


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The Best Smart Growth Projects in America

The Best Smart Growth Projects in America | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it
The EPA's newly released list includes a green learning center and an innovative civic gathering space...

One of the country’s very best revitalizing neighborhoods and one of our most articulate city plans for a more sustainable future are among this year’s five national honorees for achievement in smart growth, awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The other very worthy winners include a green learning center in a small South Dakota town, a green, affordable apartment building in New Mexico and an innovative civic gathering space in Illinois...


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Making Cities Better: The Scientific American Survey

Making Cities Better: The Scientific American Survey | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

Scientific American asked opinion leaders from government, academia and the social network of our readers to answer a simple question:
What innovation (technological or otherwise) would make a city substantially more livable?

A selection of the most inspiring answers are printed in the September issue. Additional impressive replies, edited for brevity and clarity, also appear here.


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Reprogramming the City: New Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure

Reprogramming the City: New Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

Curated by urban strategist Scott Burham, the latest exhibition at theDAC explores the array of untapped potential in our urban environments. Through installations such as a light therapy bus stop and a billboard that converts humidity into drinking water, the show will consider how infrastructure can encourage human interaction, perform alternative functions or assume an entirely new role.


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Norm Miller's curator insight, December 30, 2014 3:38 PM

Design can make a huge difference in terms of livable cities.

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Infrastructure in U.S. Cities: New Urban Bikeway Design Guide

Infrastructure in U.S. Cities: New Urban Bikeway Design Guide | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

In 2000, the District of Columbia had three miles of bike lanes. Today, the district has roughly 80 miles of bike infrastructure, and many other U.S. cities have made similar investments. Bicycling Magazine’s top 50 bike friendly cities includes some unsurprising places at the top – Minneapolis, Portland, Boulder, Seattle – but also shows how cities such as Cleveland, Miami, and Baltimore have made important strides in the last several years to improve their bike systems. Several are members of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), which has put out its best-selling Urban Bikeway Design Guide, first released in 2011, now with an updated second edition this year.

NACTO’s updated second edition is part of their “sustained commitment to making city streets safer for everyone using them.” Reformatted with improved structure, it features photos, diagrams, and 3-D renderings of wide-ranging best practices in design for bike infrastructure...


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Microfinancing The Sustainable City

Microfinancing The Sustainable City | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it
Cities are experiencing rapid growth across the Global South. With this growth however, also comes economic disparity and environmental degradation. Can microfinance offer a solution to these growing concerns?

With mass urbanisation has also come significant concern with regard to economis disparity and environmental sustainability. 

From one perspective, rural to urban migration is thought to be helping to alleviate poverty by pushing more people into the middle class. Additionally, increased urban population density is seen to be ‘green’ because it lowers dependency on private vehicle use and increases resource efficiency. From another perspective however, mass urbanisation also causes a variety of problems across a range of geographic scales: socio-economic inequality, slums, sprawl, deforestation, air pollution, excessive waste and poor water management, to name a few. There is no ‘silver bullet’ for these problems...


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Kikocanas's curator insight, December 6, 2013 2:10 PM

Com a projecte per les grans ciutats pot funcionar però no mitiga les migracions massives. Faltaria una estratègia per revalorar el món rural potser.

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New designs to breathe life back into our cities

New designs to breathe life back into our cities | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it
Urban buildings use up precious materials and cause pollution. We need visionary thinking to create more sustainable designs that respond to their environment.

 

By the middle of this century, our cities are likely to be hotter, experience more dramatic changes in weather, be noisier and have an increasingly tenuous relationship with our natural world.

There’s a problem. Not only are cities responsible for 40% of our total carbon emissions, but they also deal with a limited set of physical conditions, and assume that our weather is going to be constant. Our buildings are designed for dryness and therefore deteriorate in the presence of water. Modern architecture is also designed to just house people, not other life forms, and therefore does not inherently promote biodiversity.

We therefore need to think about architecture very differently. We must search for new models for constructing buildings, as well as searching for improvements to our current industrial processes.


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A Master Plan for Cultural and Ecological Urbanism...

A Master Plan for Cultural and Ecological Urbanism... | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it

“This planning proposal seeks to determine community and bio-diversity from its historical pattern. The concept finds fundamental inspiration in the strong historical identity of the local railway line, and the historic identity of industrialization of Kaohsiung city.

Inspired by the culturally and biologically responsive between the new city urban fabric and existing old town Yen Chan district, the guiding principle of the master plan is to inspire a meaningful sense of community and a shared commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

The proposal also introduces a series of urban agriculture farming and integrated parks. The strategy is to infiltrate and to conceal the community and biological diversity from the nearby Wan Shu Mountain. It also reflects the historical transformation of Kaohsiung city from industrial city to a contemporary cityscape.”


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Sustainable cities of the future

Sustainable cities of the future | Sustainable Futures | 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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The next small thing: How sustainable neighborhoods could reshape cities

The next small thing: How sustainable neighborhoods could reshape cities | Sustainable Futures | Scoop.it
Residents and planners around the country are dreaming up innovative ways to create eco-friendly, self-reliant communities. But turning ideas into reality is a tall order.

While cities have been leaders in the effort to combat climate change, much of the action within cities occurs at the neighborhood level. "The neighborhood is a geography, a scale that resonates with people," says Rob Bennett, executive director of the nonprofit Portland Sustainability Institute. "Neighborhoods have always been a powerful and important part of how we view city-building, and how we view ourselves as citizens."


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