A Sustainable City http://asustainablecity.com moving closer to an ideal living space for you and your children Tue, 08 Feb 2011 23:04:18 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.5 Project Venus and the Zeitgeist Movement http://asustainablecity.com/project-venus-and-the-zeitgeist-movement/ http://asustainablecity.com/project-venus-and-the-zeitgeist-movement/#comments Tue, 08 Feb 2011 23:04:18 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=80 With each new passing day, the people that live on this planet become more aware of their own mortality, their place in the universe, and how their actions influence their future. Looking back at recorded history shows us a long struggle with who we have been as a people. The successes we have had . . . → Read More: Project Venus and the Zeitgeist Movement]]> With each new passing day, the people that live on this planet become more aware of their own mortality, their place in the universe, and how their actions influence their future. Looking back at recorded history shows us a long struggle with who we have been as a people. The successes we have had are great and the failures epic. A new movement has come to fruition that takes a perspective of the entire world and how we may exist into the future. The dinosaurs lived for millions of years that were eventually wiped off the face of the Earth. Now humans are the dominant species and many have thoughts concerning how we will sustain that status for millennia to come. A grassroots effort called the Zeitgeist Movement takes this perspective and provides insights on who we are, what may be required to sustain our children, our children’s children and ourselves. Project Venus is a statement about what we can do for ourselves. It shows exactly how we can build a near perfect sustainable city. Project Venus is the lifework of Jacques Fresco and is gaining strong appeal worldwide (details below).

project venusThe Zeitgeist Movement is a grassroots effort that is in the early phases of its development. The underlying theory is the creation of sustainable societies through resource-based systems. There are fundamental and redundant problems with every different model of society including those that plague capitalist societies. Poverty, hunger, and economic disparity, which eventually lead to crime and societal degradation, are symptoms of inherent structural problems in capitalist societies. The Zeitgeist Movement is all about avoiding those issues with a different plan.

The resource based economy

A resource-based economy is a foundational theme of the Zeitgeist Movement and a viable solution to the problems facing capitalist societies. Many societies that are capitalist in nature, the United States included, function under a scarcity principle of economics. The prices that citizens pay for goods are not representative of that same item’s global availability or real value. The notion that everything has a cost of ownership and price causes greater supply than demand for many items because not all people can afford products or services and they are therefore not used. In fact, in a capitalist society it is acceptable to waste resources rather than let them end up in another person’s hands without generating a profit. For instance, grocery stores often throw out food that is still good but nearing its expiration date. A restaurant will throw out an order if a person cannot come up with money for their food rather than let the patron have it. At the micro level this may not make much of a difference, however at the macro level and as a collective society, resources are as valuable as money.

project venusJacque Fresco, founder of the Zeitgeist Movement, argues that the United States was pulled out of the great depression not by legislation enacted by presidents or congress but by the onset of WWII when the country pulled together, tapped into natural resources and won the war. The economy was rebuilt and a baby boom ensued.

Early days

The Zeitgeist Movement is in its early phases as an organization and movement. As mentioned before, the movement was founded by Jacques Fresco who is a futurist and social engineer. Born in 1916, Fresco is a self-educated architectural designer. He is also credited with being the creator of The Venus Project, a non-profit and research based project focused on the effects of poverty. Fresco has worked in a variety of fields concerning social systems and bioengineering. The movement is still in the phases of collecting members and forming chapters. Later phases include actions such as fundraising, social pressure, and other activist related activities.

Automation

The movement has a strong advocacy for automation in all aspects of life. It is argued that automation has been the cause of much of the world’s unemployment and economic woes. By definition, automation is the performance of tasks once reserved for humans by machines. Some of the earliest examples of automation are the cotton gin invented by Ely Whitney or the automatic pinsetter. Automation has been a huge cost saver for businesses who no longer have to pay the high costs of employee wages, benefits, insurance and retirement packages. For workers that are displaced by automation however, there is a different story to tell. Despite the obvious drawbacks for the economy and purchasing power of consumers, automation is not the largest culprit. In fact automation does more to lower prices, hold of inflation and works to create higher quality jobs.

The Zeitgeist Movement is another perspective on how we can operate as a society, perhaps on a global scale, in order to sustain ourselves for millennia. Some people have fears that revolve around the perpetual issues created by capitalist societies. Factors like poverty, crime, and other societal issues are exacerbated or that may become unmanageable as time progresses without change. A movement to a more efficient use of natural resources and steps to reduce or eliminate societal issues are the only way to achieve sustainability in the future. These are some of the guiding principles that the Zeitgeist Movement conveys.

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Solar Panels Prices Compared http://asustainablecity.com/solar-panels-prices-compared/ http://asustainablecity.com/solar-panels-prices-compared/#comments Mon, 31 Jan 2011 18:00:06 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=74 Throughout the history of mankind, we have used the sun for its light and heat. It illuminates our world in daylight hours, heats the air, and helps plants grow. Unlike fossil fuels stored in the earth, sunlight is a continuously renewable resource that is inexhaustible. Today, mankind is learning to harness solar power from the sun . . . → Read More: Solar Panels Prices Compared]]> Throughout the history of mankind, we have used the sun for its light and heat. It illuminates our world in daylight hours, heats the air, and helps plants grow. Unlike fossil fuels stored in the earth, sunlight is a continuously renewable resource that is inexhaustible. Today, mankind is learning to harness solar power from the sun effectively and for a wider range of uses than ever before. This free and constantly renewable resource is environmentally friendly because it reduces our reliance on gas, oil and coal. It also reduces the number of watts and hours taken from the community’s existing electric grid for power.

Solar Panels prices compared – small units

It may take large solar panels to power today’s modern home but panels as small as five inches square can power lights, fans, communications devices and other interesting gadgets. This innovation now makes solar power portable.

solar panels pricesVoltaic Messenger solar pack carries a 15-inch screen laptop and includes a Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery pack with three different voltage settings for storage of solar power. This item ranges in price from $199 to $279 on Amazon.com. It comes complete with a USB adapter, a car charger and nine other standard adaptor plugs in universal sizes and for common, everyday cell phones. This device is a great way to solar power all your personal electronics as it generates up to four watts of power. Imagine a Scout camping trip where kids and leaders have enough power to take their cell phones, IPods and PDAs with them.

The Voltaic Converter is a device that attaches to a larger backpack to provide power for extended outdoor use. Wire channels are placed throughout the bag for attaching headphones and other communication devices. It is available for $179 to $225 and includes all the adaptor plugs that come with the Messenger model.

The Voltaic Generator is the very first solar bag with enough power to charge a laptop. Its battery pack is custom designed to store the electricity it generates, which is enough to charge its battery within approximately five hours. The Generator then automatically delivers to the computer the voltage output needed. It will charge computers from Apple, HP, IBM, Dell and Panasonic. You may also get the available adapter for a Mac Book. Its price starts at around $500.
The Solar Panel Briefcaseis convenient to set up and position because of its pop-out leg stands. The Briefcase provides electric power for small appliances and lights and for recharging personal communication devices. Its price ranges from $400 to $800. The portable Scout 150 has 1150 watt hours of recharging power. This is a great item for a camping trip as it recharges lights, small appliances and even CPAP machines, so those with sleep apnea can go too. These types of solar panels prices range from $ 420 and up.

SOLAR PANEL LIGHTING CAN BE PRACTICAL OR WHIMSICAL

Solar landscape lighting is much easier to install than traditional wired lights. No wires have to be run into the house and each lighting unit is self-contained. You may use them to line the sidewalk or a flower bed. Solar fence lights have a poly-crystal solar panel to charge their super bright LED white lights. These can even be mounted on trees in a yard area that needs some light. Solar lights are also used as pole lights and backyard spotlights. All of the solar panel lights mentioned here cost anywhere from $12 to $70.

Solar string hand-blown glass lights have six lights on a twenty-five foot long string. They are gorgeous wrapped around an arch or arbor in the yard, around trees and on the railing of the deck. They come on at dusk and glow for about six to eight hours then shut off at dawn.

solar walkway lights pricesLED solar powered security outdoor motion detector lights turn on automatically when any motion within a 190-foot range turns them on. These helpfully light up entries, sidewalks and driveways. They turn off away after a pre-programmed amount of time. They are as bright as a 20-watt bulb.

The LED camping light with its line of ten LED bulbs bends so it can be secured anywhere it needs to be placed. The LED bulbs last over 20,000 hours and the light only uses one watt of power in an hour.

INNOVATIVE USES OF SMALL SOLAR PANELS ABOUND

There is solar owl decoy on the market with a spinning, rotating head. It is used in gardens and yards as a mechanical scarecrow to scare away predator animals. Solar rainbow wind chimes have a glass orb containing an LED light which comes on at dusk at changes it glowing color every few seconds. Solar panels are used in fountains to power their water pumps.

A portable speaker system for iPods, MP3 players and radios attaches to a bike or stroller or belt for up to fifteen hours of great sound. Solar panel car battery chargers, cell phone chargers, camera battery charges, solar camping lamps and AM/FM radios are all on the market.

Besides heating and cooling an entire house, smaller solar panels are used to power attic fans, warm the water in in-ground swimming pools, shed and barn lights and automatic gate openers and closers. Energy efficient solar attic fans even qualify for the 30% Federal Income tax credit.

Solar energy carries no risk to people or the environment. It does not deplete the earth’s natural resources. Solar panels prices are coming down drastically and for home use there are now many responsible ways to use renewable energy wisely.

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Recuperating Long Lost Plastics http://asustainablecity.com/recuperating-long-lost-plastics/ http://asustainablecity.com/recuperating-long-lost-plastics/#comments Wed, 14 Jul 2010 23:15:01 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=46 It was only a few short months ago that, while reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, I first learned about these extremely large pools of plastic bits floating around in the Pacific. I always new that plastics in the oceans were an issue, that fish and other creatures died in plastic snares and ate . . . → Read More: Recuperating Long Lost Plastics]]> Uninhabited CityIt was only a few short months ago that, while reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, I first learned about these extremely large pools of plastic bits floating around in the Pacific. I always new that plastics in the oceans were an issue, that fish and other creatures died in plastic snares and ate a little too much of the stuff. What I didn’t know was that there were pockets within the Pacific that had a a motion to them that kept the bits in a set area. That the bits, over time, became smaller and smaller and posed and constantly growing threat.

Here’s a rich and detailed description of this area by Charles Moore (please read the full article here…)

What we saw amazed us. We were looking at a rich broth of minute sea creatures mixed with hundreds of colored plastic fragments-a plastic-plankton soup. The easy pickings energized all of us, and soon we began sampling in earnest. Because plankton move up and down in the water column each day, we needed to trawl nonstop, day and night, to get representative samples. When we encountered the light winds typical of the subtropical gyre, we deployed the manta outside the port wake, along with two other kinds of nets. Each net caught plenty of debris, but far and away the most productive trawl was the manta.

There was plenty of larger debris in our path as well, which the crew members retrieved with an inflatable dingy In the end, we took about a ton of this debris on board. The items included

  • a drum of hazardous chemicals;
  • an inflated volleyball, half covered in goose-neck barnacles;
  • a plastic coat hanger with a swivel hook;
  • a cathode-ray tube for a nineteen-inch TV;
  • an inflated truck tire mounted on a steel rim;
  • numerous plastic, and some glass, fishing floats;
  • a gallon bleach bottle that was so brittle it crumbled in our hands; and
  • a menacing medusa of tangled net lines and hawsers that we hung from the A-frame of our catamaran and named Polly P, for the polypropylene lines that made up its bulk.

So there’s the bad news. Today I read some good news about the issue (the first good news I’ve come across concerning this issue). Electrolux has a plan to recoup a large amount of these plastics and make vacuum machines out of them. Now I’m never one to be applauding large corporations and I’m sure Electrolux is doing this with a keen eye on their bottom line but the idea is just terrific. Who cares if it was conceived by the marketing department – it’s still a great idea. I first learned about this from Interior Design.net, the complete story from them can be found here..

Electrolux has recently embarked on a unique challenge: through their new project, Vac from the Sea, they hope to collect the floating plastic debris from the infamous gyres and islands in the ocean (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch being the best-known), and turn the discarded flotsam and jetsom into a new line of 6 vacuum cleaners. Each vacuum will represent a body of water: the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, and the North Sea.

Of course – this doesn’t even begin to touch on the more serious issue of the vast amount of very small particles that are found in all our seas but it does shed light on the issue. Hopefully other bright folks will put some brain power into this problem and come up with an ingenious vacuum to suck up all the bits. Until then we’ll keep the issues alive and in the news.

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London Bullet Building: The Pride Of London http://asustainablecity.com/london-bullet-building-the-pride-of-london/ http://asustainablecity.com/london-bullet-building-the-pride-of-london/#comments Wed, 07 Jul 2010 23:48:15 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=42 About The Building

Opened at the end of May 2004, 30 St Mary Axe, which is more fondly and popularly called the London Bullet Building, is a 180 m or 591 ft tall structure (compare this with the 828 m tall Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world at present or the Heron Tower, which . . . → Read More: London Bullet Building: The Pride Of London]]> About The Building

london gherkinOpened at the end of May 2004, 30 St Mary Axe, which is more fondly and popularly called the London Bullet Building, is a 180 m or 591 ft tall structure (compare this with the 828 m tall Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world at present or the Heron Tower, which would become the tallest building in London at 230 m after completion) located in the City of London, London’s prime financial district.

This London skyscraper has been built on the site where the Baltic Exchange building use to stand before parts of it were severely damaged after a bomb explosion in April, 1992. Having a total of 40 floors, the building was commissioned by the global reinsurance giant Swiss Re as the headquarters for their operation in the United Kingdom. The building was resold to IVG Immobilien AG and Evans Randall in 2007 at a whopping GB£630 million.

Though the building has mainly offices of a number of national and multinational corporate giants, there are areas for interest for general public as well. While the topmost floor of this huge structure serves as a bar, the floor below it houses a restaurant. There are three shopping stores and two hotels for accommodation as well.

The building can be seen from as far as 32 km and has been represented in some movies as well. No wonder it has become a defining part of the London skyline and is loved by all the inhabitants of the city and has been re-christened the “Spirit of London”.
The Creators

The building was architectured by the UK architectural company Foster + Partners, which has completed a number of other steel-and-glass buildings successfully in the past. Norman Foster, who is the chairman of the firm, designed the structure of the 30 St Mary Axe with Ken Shuttleworth and Arup engineers. The structure was erected by the main contractors Skanska.

The Environment-Friendly Structure

The reason why this building is famous all over the world is because of its environmental-friendly design. The unique design of the building ensures that it consumes almost 50% less power than a normal office building like this would typically consume. The energy-saving features of the building have brought it a number of laurels and awards including the prestigious and much-coveted Stirling Prize.

The glass façade of the building ensures maximum exploitation of natural daylight, thus reducing the dependence of artificial lights at least during the day, which in turn helps in reducing the need of artificial cooling. The light fittings are also such that they consume less power.

The building has a ventilated double skin outer envelope that helps in ventilation. This lessens the load on the air conditioners leading to more energy conservation. The aerodynamic structure and design of this skyscraper also helps in ventilation. In addition to this, there are blinds placed in the double skin structure that intercept solar heat, which can be put to other usage.

The primary fuel that the building employs is gas, the cleanest of all fuels. Plus, the ventilation system is decentralized which helps in matching the supply with the exact requirements on a per floor basis, instead of a centralized system that would have consumed a lot more power.

The facilities in public transport around the building site discourage the usage of private vehicles for commuting. In addition, the large provision for cycles in the basement encourages the usage of this ecological means of transport. Therefore, from every aspect, the building helps to protect the environment. St Mary Axe is in fact a modern nature-friendly unique towering structure that helps in maintaining the overall ecological balance as well as making the city’s skyline look more beautiful.

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Everrich 2 Mixed Use Property http://asustainablecity.com/everrich-2-mixed-use-property/ http://asustainablecity.com/everrich-2-mixed-use-property/#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:00:58 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=21 As time moves forward we will present more and more buildings and properties that should be considered for our sustainable city. There are a lot of arguments to be made for mixed use structures. The big positive with a mixed use facility is the lack of transportation burdens. Moving people carries a great cost. Everything from . . . → Read More: Everrich 2 Mixed Use Property]]> As time moves forward we will present more and more buildings and properties that should be considered for our sustainable city. There are a lot of arguments to be made for mixed use structures. The big positive with a mixed use facility is the lack of transportation burdens. Moving people carries a great cost. Everything from the environmental costs of car manufacturing to road building adds to the impact of moving people. Mixed use buildings help alleviate this problem.

What is a mixed use facility? Simply a building or group of buildings in which you can work, shop and live. When you can take an elevator downstairs to get your groceries and walk a couple hundred yards to get to the office then owning a car becomes unnecessary. Of course you’ll still want to get away from time to time to visit friends, explore cultural venues and take vacations but for these a rental might make more sense or if your facility is very forward thinking it would provide a motor pool service. I am not currently aware of a Property that offers this but will put it on the list of topics to be covered here in the future.

The whole point of choosing a city as the ultimate place to live in the future is its overall footprint. You can have a thousand people living in a very small area quite comfortably and a mixed use property capitalizes on this concept like no other. The new Everrich 2 complex being built in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is a fantastic example of a mixed use development.

Looking like a huge white roller coaster the Everrich project encompasses over six hundred thousand square meters and houses over three thousand citizens. It will boast two levels of retail space and a huge public commons area in the oval interior. This project is not a fantasy, work has already begun (Jan. 2010) and we will update you on its progress. I can’t wait to find out more detail on this site, there is very little info on the architect’s website – http://www.dwp.com/

What we can see in the images that have been released is that the scale of the project is immense, truly spectacular. I see there will be significant use of green roof design as well as staircase planting areas and rooftop swimming spots.

Thanks to DesignBoom for showcasing this community.

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Eco Friendly Homes for Today’s City http://asustainablecity.com/eco-friendly-homes-for-todays-city/ http://asustainablecity.com/eco-friendly-homes-for-todays-city/#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 10:12:41 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=37 When you think of the phrases eco friendly and environmentally conscious, you may be tempted to think it must consist of a significant amount of hard work, and must be rather boring. Neither of these misconceptions are true. Eco friendly homes can be a part of an exciting lifestyle. You know you are . . . → Read More: Eco Friendly Homes for Today’s City]]> When you think of the phrases eco friendly and environmentally conscious, you may be tempted to think it must consist of a significant amount of hard work, and must be rather boring. Neither of these misconceptions are true. Eco friendly homes can be a part of an exciting lifestyle. You know you are doing your part to protect and preserve the environment, but have fun at the same time.

One easy principle to remember and put into practice is the less waste created, the better for everyone concerned. You can start by checking around your home and noting how much waste could be eliminated. Some good ideas include recycling glass, metals, and other products, rather than simply trying to dispose of them; and having a yard sale so others can benefit from your unwanted household goods, clothing, and electronics. Eliminating unnecessary waste can also include repairing leaky faucets, using an energy efficient toilet, and replacing all of your incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.

Considering solar energy is another great idea. Solar lighting is one example. Your patio or balcony may have electrical lights, complete with potentially dangerous cords and high energy bills. It is simple to replace them with solar lights. Solar powered lights gain all of their energy from the sun’s natural light, and produce the ideal amount of lighting for you. Instead of draining energy resources, the solar form of lighting is one hundred percent natural. Nothing is drained from the environment, and nothing is put into it.

While you might be familiar with lightning, you may not know about solar heating. Depending upon the construction of your home, solar panels may be an option. Not only is it much better for the natural environment, it also looks beautiful. Adding panels will help to keep your entire home comfortable inside, while giving it a lovelier appearance from the outside.

If you have a water heater which requires gas or electricity to operate, consider a solar heater. Operating on the same principle as lighting, it conserves energy and works in an all-natural way.

An eco friendly house or apartment includes using “green” products. When considering specific products, there are two important points to keep in mind. First, how the products will affect the home; and second, how their disposal will affect your environment. The first part of this means choosing products which do not contain harmful, toxic chemicals. Household cleaning products made of all-natural ingredients work very well. The second part means using products which are completely biodegradable. Both the product itself and its container should pose no threat to the land, air, or waterways. All you need to do to ensure your products are green is to read the labels before purchasing. This simple step can make a world of difference.

While you are thinking of an ecologically friendly lifestyle, keeping your car in the garage and opting to walk instead is good for you as well as for the world you live in. Saving money and having wonderful benefits to your health are as important as helping to keep the air fresh and clean.

It is amazing how so few changes can make a positive impact on the planet. Equally important, you will enjoy every minute of your new “green” lifestyle.

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Green Roof Design http://asustainablecity.com/green-roof-design/ http://asustainablecity.com/green-roof-design/#comments Thu, 01 Jul 2010 12:00:13 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=12 Green roofs will be a big part of our sustainable city, our city of the future. In fact just about all buildings will have some green roof design elements incorporated in them. There are many positives and no negatives. It’s like comparing a little slice of forest or meadow with a parking lot. You won’t get . . . → Read More: Green Roof Design]]> Green roofs will be a big part of our sustainable city, our city of the future. In fact just about all buildings will have some green roof design elements incorporated in them. There are many positives and no negatives. It’s like comparing a little slice of forest or meadow with a parking lot. You won’t get much of an argument for the benefits or the latter.

What exactly is a green roof?

City Hall - Chicago

The overall idea is not a complex one, a green roof is simply a rooftop that have been covered in three layers: a) a membrane to keep a separation between the moist organic material from the underlying roof, b) a soil component, typically a mixture of organic and inorganic compounds, c) vegetation and amenities including everything from a simple grass meadow to a lush forest with ponds and pathways.

There are two distinctive types of green roof design, extensive and intensive. An extensive roof is one that will lean to the lighter side and meant to be home to bugs, not people. This type of green roof would have a lower profile soil level, anywhere from eight inches to as little as an inch or two. The vegetation might resemble a mountain grassland or plateau with a mixture of shrubs and grasses. An intensive design is one that is created for human usage. The soil level will be deeper to accommodate a greater variety of vegetation. Anything from grasses and mosses up to full grown trees and hedges. The soil level in this type of green roof design will have less non-organic material, at least 50% organic and the depth will be much greater, anywhere from eight inches all the way up to fifteen feet (to accommodate trees and ponds). This type of area will often be well traffic by people and incorporate features such as gazebos, walking paths, benches and more.

The big picture benefits of a green roof include the following:

  • Reduced heating of the surrounding area
  • Improved humidity levels
  • Air Purity
  • A home to a thriving community of insects and birds
  • Economic gains
  • Psychological gains

As anybody who has walked across a hot paved surface in the summertime knows that the grass across the street feels nice and cool. Surfaces like concrete and asphalt give off a ton of heat. A typical city may run anywhere from 2 to 10 degrees hotter than a surrounding area. A nice meadow or grass rooftop helps to cool down the immediate area. A whole city of green roofs would be much more comfortable in the summer.

Airborne dust particles and toxins are absorbed by the vegetation on a green roof. It’s acts like a giant filter. Even a small patch has an effect on air quality.

There are many economic gains to be had with a green roof project. There are immediate gains in that a roof will generally last much longer due to it not being directly bombarded by the sun’s harsh rays. A heavy, moist surface will protract the lifespan, reducing the costs of roofing materials. There can be immeasurable indirect benefits as well. Everything from lower A/C costs due to the thermal mass effect (lower heating in winter as well), new jobs created to maintain and manage the areas, and a general improvement in the state of the building thus increasing its value.

By far the greatest impact to a city that incorporates green roof design is its effect on moral. Humans feel better when surrounded by life/nature. Be it an aquarium, plants in the living room or a rooftop meadow, people will be in a better mood when removed from a cold, concrete, lifeless environment. More and more modern city buildings are incorporating vivariums and green spaces; adding a green roof on an otherwise unused space takes this to the extreme. You only need to look at the joyful expression on the face of anyone that experiences a lush garden ten stories in the air for the first time. The often have an incredulous look about them and even the stoutest will have a smile on.

Is a green roof expensive?

Not terrible but it depends on a few variables, namely what type of roof and how large. A small extensive type may cost as little as $10 to $20 per square foot while an intensive roof may be closer to $20 to $40 per square foot. The price will lower (at times quite a bit) when you start talking about much larger projects.

I feel it is fitting to end with remarks from an architect that will be feature quite a bit on this site, Friedenreich Hundertwasser:

The true proportions in this world are the views to the stars and the views down to the surface of the earth. Grass and vegetation in the city should grow on all horizontal spaces – that is to say, wherever rain and snow falls vegetation should grow, on the roads and on the roofs. The horizontal is the domain of nature and wherever vegetation grows on the horizontal level man is off limits; he should not interfere. I mean taking away territories from nature, which human beings have always done.

grass covered houses

I’ll finish things off with a few more images of some spectacular green roofs and a promise that we’ll write up an article shortly about this fist image, The California Academy of Sciences by Renzo Piano, one of the coolest buildings (green-roofed or otherwise) that I’ve come across. This and the biodome in Montreal will be examples of indoor nature preserves that will be in our city.

California Academy of Sciences by Renzo Piano

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Remote Data Centers Running on Renewable Energy http://asustainablecity.com/remote-data-centers-running-on-renewable-energy/ http://asustainablecity.com/remote-data-centers-running-on-renewable-energy/#comments Sun, 27 Jun 2010 17:32:39 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=33 . . . → Read More: Remote Data Centers Running on Renewable Energy]]> A key infrastructure item in our sustainable city will of course be data centers and the movement of information. A beautiful aspect to information is that is does not need to be housed locally. In our city, space & energy will be a premium concern. If certain elements can be outsourced then thei will only work to making to city more efficient and greener.
An idea concerning a green information system is gaining traction right now and it fits in quite nicely with our overall agenda, that of a sustainable, modern, comfortable city. The idea is to outsource the storage of information to a distant data center that itself runs on renewable energy. The place I’m talking about is Iceland and they are providing this capability today.
IcelandIceland has very generous amounts of both hydro electric and geothermal energy sources, clean energy sources. Large companies, banks and in our case a whole city have tremendous power requirements for their data centers. A typical bank may require thousands of servers to store and process all of it’s data and it’s not just the processing that chews up a lot of energy it is the cooling mechanisms. Every Watt of power that is used for processing needs an additional fifty percent of energy just for cooling. When you’re talking about a typical North American data center then that converts to a heck of a lot of CO2 emissions.
Iceland is right now laying a lot of cable both to Europe and North America. Of course they still have some hurdles to cross. They need to find IT staff that won’t mind living in such a remote location. There are some fears of latency in the system but this technological hurdle should be easy enough to overcome. And finally they will need to convince enough people to invest to make the scope of the project large enough that some economies of scale present themselves.
The idea of remote, completely green energy powered data centers is one that will dicussed thoroughly. It is a sound idea one that will most likely be installed in our new city.
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The Fastest Elevators, speed and safety http://asustainablecity.com/the-fastest-elevators-speed-and-safety/ http://asustainablecity.com/the-fastest-elevators-speed-and-safety/#comments Tue, 22 Jun 2010 02:41:33 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=27 . . . → Read More: The Fastest Elevators, speed and safety]]> A key to having a large number of people living within a small footprint, which is of utmost importance in our city, is building very high density and very tall buildings. Building height simply cannot be improved upon without improvements in the field of moving people vertically – elevators.
Elevators in standard sized buildings — ten stories or less — plod along at a minuscule five to ten miles per hour, but engineers and architects are in a constant battle to improve the speeds of the top designs for a new fastest elevator, reaching traveling speeds as high as twenty two miles an hour.

Hitachi's G1 Tower

The need for faster elevators is tied to the need for greater eco-minded skyscrapers (small footprint).  While most would assume that the American cityscape is clustered full of towering buildings and that most models are efficient enough, the majority of demand actually comes from foreign markets.  The Chinese economic boom has led to staggering urban planning to accommodate millions of new citizens and thousands of new businesses; to avoid massive sized cities the skyscraper is an excellent way to keep a population in a relatively small area.  China plans to construct some fifty thousand skyscrapers over the course of the next decade alone.
Japanese industrial manufacturer Hitachi is more well known for their televisions than their heavy engineering, but they are leaders in the quest for faster and more efficient elevators.   Hitachi has invested sixty million dollars alone in constructing a facility that is used solely to test elevator speeds.  The tallest testing facility in the world, this building allows Hitachi to safety test elevators that reach upwards of forty miles per hour.
The concern for these elevators is not that the high strength rigging line will snap — these lines are formatted to withstand a weight equal to a blue whale — but that the increase and decreases in pressure will affect the human ear.  As the elevator car ascends and descends, the air pressure causes one’s ears to pop in the same manner as an airplane; while airplanes ease this sensation due to the considerable forward velocity, there is no means of reducing the pressure in a straight up and down elevator.  In the original Sears Tower elevator, an unfortunate passenger’s ear drum ruptured from the ride.  Thus, even the highest speeds have to be balanced out.
The key to these operations so far appears to be pressurizing the cabin with condensed and forced air.  By blowing air into the elevator, the ear drum is not strained, allowing for comfortable rides.  However, at higher speeds this is more difficult — akin to keeping air pressure steady in a car with windows rolled down.

Elevator ride up the Burj Al Arab

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Follow these Tweets http://asustainablecity.com/follow-these-tweets/ http://asustainablecity.com/follow-these-tweets/#comments Thu, 17 Jun 2010 03:08:27 +0000 Bruce http://asustainablecity.com/?p=9 While looking around at other environmental/sustainability sites to get some inspiration for this place I came across The Chic Ecologist. The site is wonderful and this week they share a terrific resource – Twitterers in the ecological domain.

Here’s a few, check out the Chic Ecologist for the full list…

Green Living

@inhabitat – Green design in your . . . → Read More: Follow these Tweets]]>
While looking around at other environmental/sustainability sites to get some inspiration for this place I came across The Chic Ecologist. The site is wonderful and this week they share a terrific resource – Twitterers in the ecological domain.

Here’s a few, check out the Chic Ecologist for the full list…

Green Living

  • @inhabitat – Green design in your habitat
  • @the_daily_green – Great daily green tips
  • @dwell – Modern & green home design
  • @renest – Home style and design features
  • @jetsongreen – Green Building News and Features
  • @OrganicLife – Organic Lifestyle Magazine
  • @dannyjseo – Great DIY home decorating ideas
  • @AltCon – Green living for the Alternative Consumer

We’ll be joining them on Twitter in the weeks to come.

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