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Tag: sustainable design

Here's an aerial view of the Burwood Brickworks Shopping Center in Melbourne Australia

A sustainability ethos

The Artdog Images of Interest

I have a thing for “green” architecture. I think the potential to build things that actually improve the environment is amazing. Much better than conventional projects that blight or destroy it. All over the world, I’m delighted to see a sustainability ethos begin to rise up. We all need a sense that we have a moral obligation to do better.

All over the world, but not as much in the USA. That’s not to say we have nothing of the sort hereSeveral local projects in the Kansas City metro have included a sustainability ethos in their planning. But other countries are building most of the cutting-edge projects.

The quote from "Light of Mine" says: "Sustainable development is the masterful balance of meeting our own needs without jeopardizing future generations' ability to do the same."

I recently learned about three different sustainable projects that could guide part of a solution to our climate crisis. I’ve posted about them on social media. But I also wanted to collect some thoughts about them here. Each one demonstrates a great sustainability ethos.

Humanscapes of Auroville, India

This sustainable housing complex has already been built (from locally-sourced materials). Auroville has a rather extraordinary visionary origin, itself. Humanscapes fits right in. It’s a net-positive energy project, which generates more energy than it uses. 

It’s also part of a long-term study of how built spaces can foster community among those who live or work there. Designed for young adults, students and faculty, it features beautiful and flexible common areas among its innovations.

The complex was designed by the local firm Auroville Design ConsultantsRead more about it on Inhabitat and Arch Daily.

Net-positive housing in Auroville, India, with common space at left.
Humanscapes of Auroville, India, is part of an experiment in sustainable living and community-building. (Akshay Arora/Auroville Design Consultants)
This illustrated quote from Phil Harding says, "Without environmental sustainability, economic stability and social cohesion cannot be achieved."

Planners and designers overlook the sustainability element in the economic and social picture far too often. But when you fail to evaluate the complete “footprint” of a project, you can get into trouble fast.

Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre of Melbourne, Australia

Trumpeted as the “World’s most sustainable Shopping Centre,” this is another interesting project. According to The Sydney Herald the Burwood Brickworks shopping center won’t quite be a net-positive energy project like Humanscapes. But it will “produce a large chunk of its energy needs.”

But according to Broadsheet Media of Melbourne, it will meet the Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification standards. LBC-certified buildings have zero carbon footprint. They produce zero waste. They provide more electricity and water than they use. And they grow agriculture on 20 per cent of the site. On top of all that, builders use non-toxic and recycled materials

That sounds net-positive to me, but I’ll let them sort it out. It’ll be considerably more eco-friendly than conventional shopping centers, either way. And definitely informed by a sustainability ethos.

Here's an aerial view of the Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre with its garden-intensive green roof.
Designers built the Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre in Melbourne, Australia with a “rooftop farm.” It reminds me of the ubiquitous rooftop farming I imagine for the habitat wheels of my fictional Rana Station.

Smart Forest City of Cancun, Mexico

Anyone who follows green innovations knows the architectural firm behind the Smart Forest CityStefano Boeri Architetti is based in Milan, Italy. One of its earlier projects there, the groundbreaking Bosco Verticale, looks a whole lot like the “White Space Tree” I blogged about last May (note Bosco Verticale came first). 

Here's an architect's conception of a canal in Smart Forest City with boats on the clear water and both trees and buildings lining the ban
Canals will run through much of Smart Forest City. They’ll bring water to the agriculture that’ll make the place food-self-sufficient. This picture reminds me of a Solarpunk city design like those of Tyler Edlin or MissOliviaLouise.

Stefano Boeri intends his latest project, the still-in-the-process Smart Forest City, to be “a model for resilient and sustainable urban planning.” The firm is designing it to be “completely food and energy self-sufficient.” Not only net-positive (or at least net-neutral) energy, but able to produce its own food.

I’m flashing on my fictional Rana Station again. Rana is an island in space that is 23 hours away from the nearest planet. Its very survival depends on its self-sufficiency. Therefore, every available space is used for agriculture.

The illustrated quote from William McDonough says, "Sustainability takes forever. And that's the point.

 Smart Forest City takes kind of the same approach. It’ll have green roofs, vertical gardens, and an agricultural belt that surrounds its perimeter. The Mexican project should be able to feed all 130,000 projected residents from its own agriculture. Talk about building with a sustainability ethos!

For Food Security

Day Five: For Food Security

I feel more conflicted about this one than I have about my previous gratitude topics. Not that food security is not a marvelous blessing–it truly is, in every sense of the word. 

But I’m aware that all around me–in my community, across my nation, and around the world, there are many, many people who do not share this blessing.

To express public gratitude for it, in the knowledge of such widespread lack, almost feels like gloating. That’s not my intention at all. If I could, I’d extend this blessing to everyone in the world, so that no one anywhere has to go to bed hungry, or wonder where their next meal will come from.

Here in the USA, today is Thanksgiving. Everyone in the country is presumed to be eating their fill, then waddling into the next room to zone out in a “food coma” while watching American football games. However, despite the best efforts of community charities, not everyone will be able to do that. Statesman Jacques Diouf put it well:

Everyone alive should be acknowledged to have a basic human right to adequate, nutritious food. That this is ignored, pushed aside as inconvenient, left to the vaguaries of climate change, governmental style or unregulated capitalism, or even actively subverted so hunger can be used as a weapon is inexcusable. Yes, people have been doing it for millennia; it’s a crime against humanity every single time, in my opinion.

How can persons of conscience work to fight food insecurity? Acknowledging that we who can eat well are blessed, we can make charitable donations on both the local (link to find US agencies) and international (this link: UN) level to help fill immediate shortfalls.

But we also must advocate for longer-range goals: 

Creating systemic improvement is a large, difficult goal, fraught with practical difficulties, cultural pitfalls, and unintended results. It also is desperately necessary, as long as people anywhere are hungry.

Creating changes in public opinion is a way to begin. Funding empirical studies by unbiased researchers is a reasonable step forward. Involving all involved parties in design of solutions is a reasonable, respectful necessity that is likeliest to result in the best solutions. Many initiatives have already begun. We all must work together to bring the best ones to fruition.

IMAGES: The “Seven Days of Gratitude” design is my own creation, for well or ill. If for some reason You’d like to use it, please feel free to do so, but I request attribution and a link back to this post. The “Food security definition” quote by Pattie Baker is from Quozio, via Pinterest; her book Food for My Daughters is available from Amazon Smile and other fine booksellers. The Jacques Diouf quote is identified as sourced from Live58, though I couldn’t find it on their site; I did find it on the website for GRIID (the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy). The quote from Ray Offenheiser of Oxfam America is courtesy of The Huffington Post, via Pinterest. Many thanks to all!

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