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what to do to improve our lives in the city where we live
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How Urban Parks Enhance Your Brain

How Urban Parks Enhance Your Brain | Urban Life | Scoop.it
A break from the bustle of the city can do your mind good, recent research shows.

A couple weeks ago the folks at Cracked told readers that "living in a city makes you dumber." There are a number of flaws here — beyond the obvious one of getting your science news from Cracked — but the research at the center of the claim has some relevance to cities worth considering nonetheless. What it tells us is not so much a story about the hazards of city living as it is about the benefits of city parks.

The original study at issue here, which I'm familiar with from earlier work, was published back in 2008 in Psychological Science [PDF]. A research team led by Marc Berman of the University of Michigan gave participants a standard memory and attention test then assigned some of them to walk through downtown Ann Arbor, and others to walk through the impressive campus arboretum. The participants were tested again upon their return, and beyond a doubt the group that took the nature walk scored significantly better...


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Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet

Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet | Urban Life | 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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Green and Healthy Buildings: monitoring consumption & ecology in the built environment

Green and Healthy Buildings: monitoring consumption & ecology in the built environment | Urban Life | Scoop.it

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for approximately 40 percent of worldwide energy use and are responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They also play an important role in the health and wellbeing of those who inhabit them each day.

The mass of information about what makes a building green tends to concentrate on new and innovative designs that create beautiful photo spreads. While such examples are inspiring, they make up a very small percentage of all buildings in operation.

Green Buildings Alive is an environmental initiative aimed at collecting and sharing data on existing buildings between 10 and 60 years old. The data is collected from office towers in Australian Central Business Districts (CBDs) and shared on a public website.

 

For more on this innovative, environmental initiative that provides interactive visualizations of building-performance data to help understand the complexities and relationships among sustainability, health, and energy, read the complete article


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A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm

A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm | Urban Life | Scoop.it
A literal food truck expands the creative arsenal of urban agriculture.

If the Lorax were to ever actually award a "Certified Truffula Tree of Approval" to a moving vehicle, it'd be a lot more likely to go to a garden-toting truck that brings farms to schools than to a Mazda SUV.

A literal "food truck," Truck Farm Chicago is a nonprofit organization that uses a 1994 Ford F-250 named Petunia to chauffeur a miniature farm. The project, which revved into gear on Earth Day, is a collaboration between sustainable development nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead and eco-friendly book-printer Green Sugar Press, a recent GOOD Maker finalist whose co-founders Shari Brown and Tim Magner were inspired by King Corn director Ian Cheney’s first truck farm in Brooklyn, NY...


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