Big Ass Fans!

In any big space that is heated or air conditioned, the hot air will rise and it will tend to stratify, with hot air stuck at the ceiling, wasting a lot of energy. There are lots of high-tech things you can do, but the dumb simple thing is to simply put a big-ass fan up there to stir things up and that's where the Big Ass Fans® Company comes in. The concept is simple and it works, I guess you don't always need high tech gadgetry to be efficient.

BigAssFans.com TreeHugger.com

- Jassa
Anna Toumai spoke today about Urban Roof Garden Designs. The majority of her ideas came from her studies within Germany. The first idea that she brought up for urban roof garden designs was that of a beer garden located on the roof of different buildings. I think this is relevant considering the idea of beer gardens originated in Bavaria Germany. Having beer gardens on the roofs of workplaces would be a good idea in my opinion as long as they were only open after a certain time. By having the beer garden located on the roof of the workplace would allow for coworkers to congregate and have a place to socialize and become friends. This would allow for coworkers to become friends and therefore the work that is being within the workplace would become more efficiently finished, as all of the staff would be comfortable with each other. However if the beer garden was open during the day I do not think that the efficiency of the work would be very great because the staff would probably be spending a lot of time in the beer garden or else they would be drunk and unable to do any work. Locating a beer garden on the roof of their building would benefit the company financially as well. Instead of paying the staff their wage and allowing it to be spent on drinks at a bar, they are creating a space right on their roof and therefore they are paying the staff their wage and are getting paid a portion of that back at the end of the day. People would want to congregate at the beer garden instead of a lounge or bar for the most part because it is more live and a lot less dingy. I believe a lot of people would benefit from a beer garden on the roof of their place of work.

Rooftop Beer Garden at Otani Hotel in LA


Technology for Water

It seems as if we are taking away from our planets resources more and more as we see our lives getting easier through the constantly developing technology, so its always nice to know that there is technology out there working for the environment rather than against it. "ECONA", as its called, is a water-saving device that is said to "change the way you view your water consumption at home". Designed by Clara Descals (Valencia) and Emma Laurin (Sweden), the touch panel receives, stores and manages information about household water consumption. It then displays the info about the house, via the water-droplet shaped units, that warn you if you are using too much of that clear gold and how much you should be using.

The objective of this bluetooth-information-transferring device is to make we consumers more conscious of our water use at home. Its visual and graphic design is intended for ease of understanding by our little water consumers. The main control unit also has programmable software and a USB port that allows you to upload the information to your computer.

Living Deco via TreeHugger.com

- Jassa


Floatable Homes

The Netherlands is a very small country and yet it is very densely populated. It is also a country, which is at a high risk from climate change and rising sea levels. One Dutch construction company, Dura Vermeer, has developed homes that can float on top of rising waters. The Maasbommel waterfront is lined with thirty-seven of these homes. Their foundation is built on a large hollow concrete cube, which gives the entire home its buoyancy. These concrete cubes are connected to the land by a single vertical pillar. The structure rests on the ground and is fastened to a 15-foot-long mooring post with sliding rings. These rings allow the home to float in times of flood. The next time that the Meuse River floods due to the “bursting of its banks” the homes will rise with it. Electricity water and sewage are pumped in through flexible pipes that bend depending on the movement of the house. These homes are able to withstand a change in the water table of up to 13ft. Unfortunately not everyone who lives in this area will be able to afford one of these homes as they retail at base of 260000 Euros or $310,000. Although they are pricey, the demand is still high. I believe the price is due mainly to the concept. I would like to see these homes become more of a mainstream; This idea should be implemented along all major rivers and any other large body of water which floods.

Rebecca Davis’ Tour of these floatable homes in Maasbommel along the river:

On a grey day in November, we head to a town called Maasbommel on the Maas River. We're going to see a lady who owns a floating house. Well, it's not really a floating house. It's a house that can float because it has a unique foundation. We eventually find the driveway that takes us down to a cluster of cool-looking houses along the river. They have a nautical feel, with curved lines and colored wooden planking. We’re supposed to be visiting the house of Anne van der Molen, but we can't seem to find hers. So we start knocking on doors. We want to see the inside of one of these houses. Finally, we find someone who is home: Mariana Smits. She is a delightful, energetic woman. If I had to pick one adjective, I'd pick perky. She invites us in for a tour. It has the look of a typical split-level house. A living room faces the river; stairs lead to a bedroom in back and to a master bedroom above the living room. "We are two of us, me and my husband," Smits says. "So it's big enough for us.” But then I make an odd tour request. I ask her if I can see her home's foundation. Luckily, she's happy to oblige. She leads us downstairs.” This is underwater," she says when we get there. We are in an enclosed basement with a low ceiling, and the Maas River is all around us. I mean, you poke a hole, and you're going to have water come in. You see, Smits' foundation actually sits on the river bottom. If the river level rises to flood stage, the house and the foundation float up with the water level. Flexible pipes keep the house connected to electrical and sewer lines. The house hasn't floated yet, but the prediction is that with global warming, the river will flood about once every 12 years. This ability to cope with floodwater rather than be devastated is why Smits moved here.” In the other village we have lived, there was always the water. I was very scared," Smits says. "Two times, we have evacuated to leave our old house. This was very scary for us. And we got the opportunity to buy this house. It's a safe place.” In fact, global warming, with the increased risk of flooding it brings, is causing some architects in Holland to change their philosophy. Chris Zevenbergen is with Dura Vermeer, the company that designed and built Smits' house.” The whole idea is, in our designs, we should always take into account what will happen when there's an extreme event," Zevenbergen says. In the past, the Dutch only built homes in places where dikes made flooding unlikely.” The concept that in fact you build in an area where a flood may occur is completely new," Zevenbergen says. New, and attracting attention. Go ahead and build houses in areas that might flood — just build them on floating foundations. At his office in The Hague, Koen Olthuis drums his fingers on his desk while he is fielding calls from people all over the world interested in water architecture. Olthuis is bursting with energy. He's the co-founder of a firm called Waterstudio, a small office with a dozen or so youngish employees. Olthuis' projects go beyond the idea of simply keeping the house and its contents dry.” The next step: we not only make the house floating, but we make the complete garden floating," Olthuis says. Why not? Why lose all those pretty Dutch tulips just because it floods? After all, Olthuis says, building floating foundations is a snap. Just fill a concrete box with some kind of plastic foam, flip it over, and you've got a stable platform that's ready to float. And the more of these platforms you join together, the more stable they are. So Olthuis doesn't plan to stop at single family homes.” You see a floating foundation, with a garden on top of it, a swimming pool on top of it, and a house on top of it. And you can fix those floating gardens to each other, and make a floating village of it," he says.

Tour of Home


Architecture is Frozen Music

According to Dr. Shaunna Mallory Hill there is no sound in space because there is no medium to travel through and yet apparently “Architecture is frozen music.” It seems as though frozen music would have no sound, does that mean then that architecture is not considered a medium? If one is left with this thought, one is then left to question what they are living within. If architecture is not a medium, does it exist or is it just figurative? Do we as a species exist? These thoughts lead one to ponder whether or not they are a portion of reality or merely someone or something’s imagination.



Music and Architecture

Music and architecture, not something we are so used to putting together but apparently they are very much related to one another. So much that music,as Dr. Shaunna Mallory Hill emphasized, is believed to have changed with architecture. I came across an interesting article by a man named Allan Cohen who had a few things to say about this relationship that I found fascinating. Music he states, "is an interesting entity. It makes you feel happy, sad, relaxed, tense and so on. It recalls memories. For example, a specific song reminds you of a loved one, or a special moment in your life. It can also be boring. Elevator music is often bland. Music is also cultural. Every country has its unique instruments and its unique rhythms and harmonies. Sound and music are related. Music is organized or improvised sound played over a period of time. Everyday sounds may be considered music.The jingle of trains, trucks, and the random tempo of car horns provide a modern percussion soundtrack. The hum of a fan or an air conditioner can be a relaxing drone. The sounds of an old boiler or a radiator can act as an asymmetrical counterpoint to the everyday sounds of the people in that building. The author then talks about a record which contained recordings of musical sculptures. Many of these sculptures produced music using a wind chime analogy. They produced music when various parts of the sculpture moved and interacted with each other. He found the music to be interesting but it was the concept that he found fascinating. The idea behind these sculptures was simple. Random interactions, a breeze, people walking by and touching the sculptures, etc. produced random music. Random interactions with random sculptures produced a random symphony. The idea of music sculptures or musical architecture is an interesting concept. When houses and buildings are designed, space and lighting are considered. Why not sound? Why not create homes and buildings that take advantage of the surrounding sonic environment? Use architecture to enhance appealing sounds and use architecture to block unwanted sounds. Music plays an integral part of our lives. MP3s are everywhere. Many people have fancy stereo systems in their cars because they live a good portion of their lives in their cars. Music relieves the stress and tedium of the day-to-day commute. We also live a good portion of our lives in our homes. Why not use music or sound to make this portion of our lives more relaxing and comfortable. When it is hot outside play a recording of a snowstorm. Some psychologists believe that this may make you feel cooler. If it is cold, play a recording of a fireplace. Studies have shown that people find the sound of water to be more relaxing than any other sound. Play a recording of a gentle rainstorm, a country brook, or the sound of the surf when you are tense. Chimes are an easy musical sculpture to incorporate into your living space. The randomness of this instrument may contribute to a relaxing environment. Architecture defines our living and working space." Light and space, Cohen states, are important and I agree with him in that acoustics considerations should also be an important aspect when defining and designing architecture.

See Buzzle.com

- Jassa

Ed Epp- Flood Architecture

Looking at these past few years it seems as if floods are becoming more and more reoccurring. It seems that the only sensible thing to do, when considering architecture susceptible to flooding, is to design accordingly. Ed Epp's lecture inspired me to look more into this, that is how I came across Inhabitat.com, "a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future."

One of the most interesting design solutions for dealing with rising water levels has to be the amphibious architecture of Dutch firm Waterstudio. Architect Koen Olthius specializes in a unique technology that allows land-based buildings to detach from the ground and float under rising water conditions. Olthius’ claim to fame is that he focuses exclusively on aqueous design - design for building in, on and at the water - in a country where water dominates the landscape.

The Dutch have fought their marshy surroundings with clever engineering since the country’s inception, and we’ve seen some impressive “floating architecture” from DuraVermeer and WaterStudio. Now that global warming is fanning the flame: melting ice-caps and raising sea levels, more and more Dutch designers are getting into amphibious architecture. Builder Hans van de Beek’s amphibious houses are an obvious yet genius solution to rising water levels. He explains; “They are pretty much just regular houses, the only difference is that when the water rises, they rise.”

DuraVermeer, Dutch Floating Homes, Dutch Amphibious Architecture, Dutch floating architecture, floating homes, Massbommel, Netherlands

Unlike the houseboats that line many Dutch canals or the floating villages of Asia, these homes are being built on solid ground — but they also are designed to float on flood water. Each house is made of lightweight wood, and the concrete base is hollow, giving it ship-like buoyancy. With no foundations anchored in the earth, the structure rests on the ground and is fastened to 15-foot-long mooring posts with sliding rings, allowing it to float upwards in times of flood. All the electrical cables, water and sewage flow through flexible pipes inside the mooring piles.

See Inhabitat.com

- Jassa




The industrial city and how it chooses to deal with flood architecture is hardly thoughtful. China as a quick growing country seems to be building with less thought and more speed. Although I can understand the need to build infrastructure asap because of the displacement of people and their need for new homes. But the design of compact building and concrete jungles seem outdated and create more problem in the long run, no sustainable systems in place. Ed mentioned that some places are abandoned entirely and surely paved over with concrete with a single purpose to stabilize the land. Instead of using the lay of the land or engineer with a purpose to work with the river should be priority over blow up, pave and cover with concrete. China has an opportunity to become a world leader and from what I've seen is unfortunate. I am sure that there are wonderfully built areas but the destruction of rural China is terrible. With a growing population and increase in industrial activity surely the long run should also be a priority in terms of sustainability.

On the other hand the architecture of the post industrial city seems very well designed with purposeful intentions. A clear intent to use the river in a less intrusive fashion is interesting.



The presentation this week was on acoustics. I was interested the most in knowing that the way a surface is designed has a dual purpose in the fact that it can refract sound or absorb it as well as being aesthetically pleasing. Depending on certain designs it can become a major problem especially in spaces that require a certain level of quietness like a library. An echo can become an annoyance, yet an echo could be wanted to create a certain level of reverb. I wish Shauna spoke more about technological advancements in the field like her presentation on lights. The talk about sound and the human psyche was also interesting in the fact that on a primitive level we are connected to living beings and the level of sophistication our hearing ability has. Our brain reacts and fires in very complex ways and regulates how our mood is and our ability to differentiate cultural nuances in how we perceive sound.



Water: how are we using it?

Ted McGlaukin also spoke of the water process and how right now we are wasting water in North America while people in underdeveloped countries haven’t even seen clean water in their lives. To us seeing how the rest of the world lives is an incredibly saddening sight and yet most of us do not get up off our seats to do anything. We continue to sit in awkward silence and stare in disbelief, unable to comprehend just how these people remain; how can they continue to function? They are able to function because unlike the developed worlds people, the underdeveloped worlds people do not know any different, they believe that their lives is how people were meant to live; in anguish and despair.
A very simple way to help these people is by conserving the fresh water on the earth’s surface. We would be able to do this in relatively simple ways, which is what McGlaukin was speaking of. The way our toilets have worked in the past is that for every flush 16 gallons is of water – fresh water at that – is wasted. McGlaukin suggests that not only do we convert all of our toilets to the 1 gallon flush or the dual flush system but that we change the way we use all of the water within our homes and work places. Why are we using drinking water to flush our toilets? That is a very interesting question. Why is it that we use our drinking water to flush our toilets? Apparently the reason is because in North America, any water that a child is able to touch has to be clean in order to prevent disease. There are other ways your may be able to go about using the water before it is thrown into the sewers. McGlaukin believes that you should be able to use water at least three times over before it is thrown into the sewer system. He suggests one way we do this is after we run our sink water and wash our hands; this water is filtered and then reused as our shower water. The grey water from the shower could be able to be filtered and then used as our toilet water. Nobody is drinking out of the toilet; children aren’t playing in the toilet, so why wouldn’t it be able to be grey water? Another way he suggests you may conserve water and at the same time reduce the run off of your property into the sewer system is by creating a water circuit in your back yard. Start the circuit by having the water run off from your roof fall into a small pond, which incorporates fish and other small pond creatures. This water will also be able to move from the pond into a marsh-like area, which would incorporate certain plants that remove the bad chemicals from the water. This water is then sent to your garden to water your vegetables and only after the water is used for all of these things is it able to move to the sewer system and by that time the water is almost drinking water again because it has been filtered by the different natural processes.


Scales of ten

Dr. Ted McGlaukin, the head of the Landscape Architecture program brought up the idea of looking at everything in different scales of ten in latitude with each other or at the same time. An example he gave was looking at a tree from as close up to see a knat on the bark to looking at that same tree and being able to see the moose, which is standing in front. I guess this idea would be able to work for everything from the project you do in your practicum to the way you live your everyday life. It could be very useful in some ways and yet get very irritating in others. By using this idea for specific projects, one would be able to look at each aspect in more than one ideal way and in doing so they would be able to gather a lot more information. If this idea was used to live everyday life, one would always be thinking instead of actually living.



Garbage Nation

It has been recently noted that the recycling business is in the toilet in the US; its been also noted that the same thing is happening in Britain; now they are drowning in paper that used to be shipped to China but that nobody wants now. The Confederation of Paper industries says in the Guardian:

"With no obvious signs of Far East buyers returning to the market soon there is a serious possibility that storage of recyclables may end up being a high-risk strategy with huge costs to those requiring storage, including the taxpayers through local authorities. The worst-case scenario is that some material collected for recycling could go to incineration or landfill."

According to Western Morning News,

At a time when levels of recyclable waste are increasing, councils are struggling to sell on the waste owing to a dramatic drop in prices of steel, aluminium, cardboard and plastics.

Mike Trim, head of cleansing services at Exeter City Council, said they had had to start stockpiling steel, since its value dropped "almost overnight" three weeks ago from £150 per tonne to zero.

Councils may have to start giving recyclables away free if the market does not improve, relying only on the £45 recycling credit per tonne contributed by the Government.

"We are still encouraging people to recycle. But the problem is that it is a world market – even China is closing its doors. Sadly, it is totally out of our hands," Mr Trim said.

He said cardboard has dropped from £60 per tonne to zero, aluminium has dropped from £900 to £400 and HDPE plastic (used to make milk containers) is down from £350 to £150.

Only high-quality paper and glass are holding their value.

So not only is recycling seemingly bullshit, it doesn't even work anymore when considering pileups all over the world. Soon the Linens 'n Things and Circuit City big boxes will be filled to the rafters with the stuff.

All the more reason why we have to immediately encourage reuseable containers and discourage disposables, and stop pretending that recycling solves the problem.

The Article



Light-greywater typically consists of drainage from bathroom sinks, tubs, showers, and often laundry. All three wastewater categories contain a wide range of organic and inorganic contaminants as well as disease-causing micro-organisms; with the type of contaminants and concentrations in light-greywater depending on the specific drainage source (i.e. bathtubs versus laundry). Although light-greywater may have lower concentrations of contaminants than mixed wastewater, research shows that the concentrations can be comparable to, and at times even greater than, mixed wastewater. Most lightgreywater is expected to have a low enough concentration of contaminants and disease causing microorganisms that reuse applications can be considered without the need for biological treatment or disinfection as long as the application has a is low risk of direct public contact (e.g. subsurface irrigation, and toilet or urinal flushing), and when storage is not required. The only form of greywater treatment typically provided in these cases is sedimentation to remove coarse solids and grit, and coarse filtration to remove hair and lint.

Collection of the greywater is simple in concept, but is one of the more practically difficult aspects of reusing greywater. In the simplest case, greywater can be collected simply by placing a bucket below an open sink drain, and manually transported to the point of use. However, a piped system requires less user intervention and is more ideal from a public health perspective since it eliminates contact between greywater and user. In this case, a plumbing network simply takes the greywater, keeping it separate from the non-greywater, and directs the greywater to a point where it can be stored, treated, or reused.




“Wind farms” bring together groups of wind turbines to produce enough electricity to power thousands of homes. The world's largest wind farm, located in Texas, consists of 421 turbines producing 735 Megawatts of electricity. The turbines cover nearly 47,000 acres (190 km²) of land.

There is a big difference between a wind farm (known as “large wind”) and “small wind”. “Small wind” usually involves either a small turbine powering a house or a medium-sized turbine powering a farm, business or a small community. Large wind provides electricity to the electric grid (rather than just a home or business).

Right now, wind farms in Canada have a capacity of 1,876 MW – enough to power 569,000 homes or equivalent to 0.8 % of Canada’s total electricity demand. Canada’s wind resource is well distributed in rural areas throughout the country with 83 wind farms in operation, and more now under construction. In total there are 1,410 turbines now operating in Canada.

In September 2001 the City of Calgary decided to power their C-Train with electricity from commercial wind energy and named it Ride the Wind!™ because riders would actually be traveling with the help of energy captured from the wind. Before the switch, the C-Train’s energy supply accounted for about 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and other air pollution every year – still less than 1/10 of the pollution that
would have resulted if all C-Train passengers had driven in their own cars. Most of that electricity came from coal-fired generating stations. How it works: Each of the 12 turbines that power the C-Train, can produce more than 600 kW of electricity, or 1.3 million kWh of electricity annually – enough to supply nearly 250 average Alberta homes – and more than enough to meet the needs of C-Train commuters. The results: Under the Ride the Wind!™ program, the C-Train’s expected air emissions from electricity use have been reduced from 20,000 tonnes to practically zero. The resulting greenhouse gas reduction is like taking 4,000 cars off the road for a full year.

Manitoba’s first wind farm at St. Leon generates 99 megawatts (MW) of clean power. The 63 wind turbines represent a $210-million project that will result in significant employment opportunities; $20 million in municipal taxes; and approximately $10 million in local landholder payments over the 25-year lifespan of the project. In addition, having a 99-MW wind farm up and running is equivalent to reducing 260,000 tonnes of global GHG emissions and can have the same positive impact as taking 50,000 cars off the road or planting 1.2 million trees.



Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia

Thomas Jefferson had a solid grasp on many concepts that many of the architectural scholars of today are just now today pushing on people in 1819. Only now are these concepts being consistently taught that they should be integrated into all of our cityscapes. While Jefferson was conceiving his plans of the University of Virginia he was thinking about many different concepts, which he thought were essential in the “academical village”. Many of his ideas we are now incorporating into our new urbanism designs of the city. While in the last century or so the majority of our cityscape designs have a vehicle first mentality, Jefferson had already conceived the idea of having a green space in the center space of all of the surrounding buildings. This green space was created for the intent of giving the students a place to walk and mingle with each other. Jefferson had a pedestrian first mentality and presented this with this green space. The streets were kept off of the original conception plan. Thomas Jefferson had also conceived the idea of a mixed-use society. The university buildings were a space for work - for the professors who lectured, a place for study - for the students attending and a place of sleep for both the proffesors and the students. In each of the building, the living quarters were located upstairs, above the classrooms. Jefferson also had the land, which the university was built on excavated and reshaped. The land was shaped into a sort of staircase. Each “stair” had its own faculty located on that level. The staircase led up to the head of the university, which in Jefferson’s mind was the library. Most universities at the time would have a chapel at the head of the university as they were centered on religion. Jefferson had a different idea of what a university should be based on; he believed it should be based on enlightenment. The university originally offered classes in philosophy, arts, science foreign language, law and medicine.

University of Virginia


Environmental Mapping

Jean Trottier a professor lecturing in the faculty of Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba spoke on several different topics related to the design complex. One of the topics, which I found highly interesting, was the idea of Environmental Mapping. Environmental Mapping is an incorporated part of the Biophysical context of the landscape around us. This type of mapping is an informative way of looking at topology in the specific area and relating the separate parts with each other. By using a universal base map, you are able to id, map and locate where absolutely everything is. How specific your map becomes is entirely based on how detailed you make each layer. An example that Trottier gave is a map, which gives the ability to site an area of best fit. This example incorporated soil types and water usage. Each type of soil and water use was coloured in different light depths on two separate layers, where the darker areas represented areas which would not be best fit areas. By incorporating both maps together and looking at where the light areas were, the reader got a sense of where the most logical best fit location would be for the site. This type of mapping originally seemed to be confusing and yet once I thought about the concept I understood that, the information that comes from this map is relatively simple to come by and yet it creates an intriguing and useful way of finding the ideal area for a certain site.


Big Touble in Little Suburia - TEDtalks

Recently I've been obsessed with these TEDtalks videos on youtube. I came across this hilarious video presentation by James Howard Kunstler. Here is what TEDtalks had to say about him and the contents of the video.
James Howard Kunstler may be the world’s most outspoken critic of suburban sprawl. He believes the end of the fossil fuels era will soon force a return to smaller-scale, agrarian communities -- and an overhaul of the most destructive features of postwar society. In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.

What I've taken from this video is that the way things are designed especially in North America aren't as thoughtful as the designers think they are. It makes me wonder in my own mind who made the decisions to make things the way they are. All of the examples in the video really point out that some designs are like cartoons of cartoons. Facades and useless ideas that disconnect us from the environment around us. Kunstler points out that most of America is a place that's not worth caring about and I think he is very persuasive and exciting to watch and listen to. Please watch this video!!!

TEDtalks Site



Jean Trotier - Landscape Architect

Jean Trotier, our Speaker for the class on Nov 6, spoke on site planning. He mentioned the design complex, which I understood as the elements which he felt were necessary to consider when designing. The Design Complex included:

-Bio-physical Context

I agree that these factors are indeed relevant in producing an ideal design in our world today. On their own they perhaps would not be so successful but together they would result in, what I feel, could be the 'perfect design'.

Mr. Trotier later lectured on Site Planning, and how slope stability, drainage, frost action and compaction play in this process. He explained how groundwater, suitability for waste disposal and plant growth, and ground shift should also be considered. I understood through this part of the lecture that all these factors contribute to determining the difficulty when actually building.

- Jassa

Transit Irony

Public transit, which in the face of record gas prices has been looking increasingly attractive (although fuel costs have recently declined), is now being challenged by the economic downturn as certain revenue streams dry up. For example, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (NYC) "faces a $1.2 billion budget deficit in 2009 — $300 million more than it had projected in July — that will very likely require new fare and toll increases or service reductions." This deficit comes in spite of the fact that ridership is up across the country. In the case of the M.T.A., which servces New York City and surrounding areas, "the deficit was caused. . .by the collapse of revenues from real estate and corporate taxes." The irony here is that while high gas prices encouraged more people to consider public transit, and the economic downturn only strengthened the need to save money, many transit authorities will be forced to raise fares and decrease services.

The New York Times via TreeHugger.com

- Jassa



Truth be told I did initially question the motive behind the 'Jeld-Wen' trip, but I quickly realized that windows and doors were much more important to sustainability than I had given them credit for. Sustainability plays a part in both the design of structures and also the design of the windows and doors themselves. Important as it may be, 'Jeld-Wen', the company itself still struck to me as another corporate firm using sustainability as a marketing tool in order to gain sales. The Jeld-Wen presenter himself was from a sales background indicating further the company's motive for BLING $$$. Most, if not all companies sole motives are profit oriented, my personal thoughts aside, the fact that they are moving towards a sustainable future is a positive point regardless of the intention.

- Jassa

Dockside Green: Check It Out

David van Vliet, a landscape architect professor teaching at the University of Manitoba spoke briefly about a Community development project in Victoria, British Columbia which is currently being created. Although he seems to be pessimistic in the ability for the finished project to carry out the original intentions because of what he believes to be difficulties and inconsistancies within the plans, I believe the idea behind the project to be incredible and I think that it is very plausible for all of the intentions to be carried out.
Completed Dockside Green will cover 15 acres making it the largest eco-residential/eco-industrial development ever created. It will incorporate a wide range of users. Dockside Green will be a “model for holistic, closed-loop design, it will function as a total environmental system in which form, structure, materials, mechanical and electrical systems will be interrelated and interdependent - a largely self-sufficient, sustainable community where waste from one area will provide fuel for another. Here you will find a dynamic environment where residents, employees, neighbouring businesses and the broader community will interact in a healthy and safe environment, reclaimed from disuse and contamination”.
Dockside Green is targeted to be LEED platinum community, which is the highest level of design. The plan includes: New urbanism, green building, sustainable community and smart growth. The plan strongly emphasizes the Triple bottom line (Natural Ecology, Economics and Social Equity) and all of the aspects being integrated with each other, intertwined throughout the creation of the entire project. By using a closed loop design, there is essentially no waste. This is due to the fact that waste from one building is used to operate another.
The entire community is planned to be greenhouse gas neutral, which basically means that there will be no net emissions produced from the site due to the fact that the site will reuse the gases to create heat.
The site uses alternate modes of transportation. The conventional thought of every person (or family) having their own car is non-existent within the community. There is a car share program that is “in partnership with the Victoria Car Share Co-operative. Dockside Green will offer a vehicle-sharing program. Exceeding the LEED® requirement and a recent traffic reduction study recommending one shared vehicle for every 150 residences, we plan to provide a total of ten vehicles – one for every 90 residences. The fleet will include a mix of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV) that run on green electricity with recharging stations on site, and smart cars. [The plan also includes] introducing electric bicycles into the program.” There is also a harbour ferry which runs between 9am and 9pm that has a number of stops it makes throughout the day. The development is also planning on introducing minitransit (large vans with 20 seats) that will run between the site and downtown throughout the day and possibly the night. Biking will be encouraged by the community and secured bike racks will be available at all commercial, industrial and residential buildings. The racks will also double as art to add aesthetic to the streets. The entire community is designed to be pedestrian first.
Dockside Green will portray New Urbanism. “Accommodating a broad range of uses and accessible to a diverse mix of people, Dockside Green will be a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly hub of activity - a safe community where residents will enjoy an exceedingly high quality of life with incredible amenities and minimal impact on the environment”.
For more information on the site you should check out their website: Dockside Green, Victoria, BC.

~Trevor G

Ideas of Carmine Militano

Carmine Militano from Stantec had a lot of things to say about a lot of different subjects. Although he spoke way to fast to collect all of the information that he was throwing out at us I did catch a number of interesting and hopefully valuable ideas. I still need to figure out if I am able to implement them into my work or not.
One of the ideas that I thought could be extremely valuable in the near future is the idea of the “6 Step Decision Process” which Carmine believes should be used in all of your projects. According to him you need to go through the 6 steps to make sure that your project will work and be exactly what your client wants.

The 6 steps are as follows:

1. Leadership and Commitment
2. Frame the Problem (Be on the same page as the client, decide what EXACTLY the client wants and be sure to ask what they do not want)
3. Development Goals, Models and Alternatives
4. Collect Valued Information (focused material; ie: pick out 3 books that have information on the exact info you are looking for rather than 30 books on anything with the word you are looking for in the title)
5. Manage risk and Decide
6. Develop implementation plan.

Carmine also informed us of what he believes to be the 10 reasons why decisions fail. They are as follows:
1. Lack of process
2. Lack of leadership
3. Lack of commitment
4. Wrong stakeholders
5. Inadequate information
6. Wrong problem
7. Politics
8. Insufficient time
9. Company culture
10. Insufficient interest

I believe that these two ideas were the most helpful in the sense that I feel I can implement them into my personal endeavors immediately. The rest of the information I believe will have to wait until I have some weight and pull into how communities and the city are being designed and operated. This may take until I am actually working in the field.

~Trevor G

Bulb Design

The weird designs, such as the one above, are the result of the LED being lit from the back. The design around the light is actually a heatsink that's meant to dissipate the heat generated by the LED. This design gives the LED much longer life by dissipating the heat quickly. Fortunately, bulbs like this are designed for recessed lighting, meaning you won't see them at all once you have them in place. You'll just reap the benefits on your electricity bill, which is something that no weird-looking bulb can make any less awesome.

I couldn't have guessed that lightbulb design could be so interesting. Fact is we don't pay enough attention to them, most of the energy they produce is actually not even in the form of light, its heat. A majority of us are aware that regular old light bulbs are bad for the environment, but its the development like this of new designs for LED bulbs which can make a difference.

Article in the NY Times

- Jassa



I was interested in knowing about some recycling figures in Winnipeg. I had also came across an article about the difference between aluminum cans and plastic bottles in terms of production and recycling.

So last year in Winnipeg 43,857 tonnes were recycled and each year since 1997 progressively has recycled more and more material.

Ask Pablo again has answered a good question about whether aluminum or plastic bottles are better to use than the other. Aluminum cans take the most energy to produce and travel so are ultimately the poorer choice when it comes to what container to use but over 50% of it is recycled compared to only 30% of plastic bottles recycled. Unfortunately both produce are made from virgin materials and consume petroleum in the process.

Here is a snippet of the recycling psychology side of cans vs. plastic:

Since consumers are ultimately responsible for the production of a can or bottle through their purchases, the embodied energy and resulting emissions are their responsibility as well. Consumers have little control over what happens to the materials after they discard them, so we will attribute the emissions reduction from recycling to the demand side of the recycling system rather than the supply (rewarding consumers who purchase recycled-content materials or packaging). Analyzing with this method rewards consumers who buy less, rather than falsely rewarding consumers who consume a great deal but recycle. Recycling reduces environmental impact but does not eliminate it as well as does not consuming in the first place.

The article is really informative and Pablo is always able to run the numbers really well. Don't take my word for it read it yourself! here's the link: