China Building World’s Most Efficient Skyscraper

Guangzhou, China will have the world’s most efficient skyscraper when it’s completed in 2010. The country that is known for bad air quality in its cities is realizing that things need to change and they’re working on it.

The Pearl River Tower, now being erected in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong province, is being billed as the most energy efficient superskyscraper ever built.

With wind turbines, solar panels, sun-shields, smart lighting, water-cooled ceilings and state-of-the-art insulation, the 310-metre tower is designed to use half the energy of most buildings of its size and set a new global benchmark for self-sufficiency among the planet’s high rises.

Engineers say the tower could even be enhanced to create surplus electricity if the local power firm relaxes its monopoly over energy generation.

Due for completion in October 2010, the structure currently looks no different from the many other masses of steel and concrete that are reaching for the sky in Guangzhou.

People are Optimistic

Not much to add to this: study proves that people are universally optimistic.

“These results provide compelling evidence that optimism is a universal phenomenon,” said Matthew Gallagher, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas and lead researcher of the study.
At the country level, optimism is highest in Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, and New Zealand and lowest in Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti and Bulgaria. The United States ranks number 10 on the list of optimistic countries.

How to Make the Suburbs Livable

Peter Calthorpe is a man on a mission to make the suburbs of North America a place where people can live (seriously, you should see what books he’s written).
The car-dominated culture of the suburbs has produced a series of housing developments that pretends the environment and other people don’t exist, and in the 21st century this lifestyle is confronting reality. Recently, Calthrope has been asked to make a suburb of Toronto, Markham, into a modern city and Markham is moving ahead with the plan. The key component of the plan is to make a more urban setting that revolves around good transportation.

“We’ve had a 50-year experiment with sprawl,” Calthorpe argues. “Now it’s over. Everything’s changing. There’s a huge demographic shift happening. If you include externalities and eliminate subsidies, sprawl is not affordable. The key to unlocking the potential is transit.

But as Calthorpe also points out, successful transit is regional transit. That’s surely true at Langstaff. Cut off by hydro easements, highways, railway tracks and cemeteries, the missing connections to the external world can only be created through transit. Extending the Yonge subway to Hwy. 7 is critical to the project, as are the locations of the new stations.

“If you want to get people out of cars,” says Calthorpe, “you’ve got to get them close to transit. And transit must be there to support walkability, not the other way around. Destinations have to be nearby.”

Times Square Goes Car-Free

New York City is famous for grid lock and horrendous traffic – but that’s the past. New York is really trying to green itself and become friendlier to sustainable forms of transportation. They are even going so far as to make times square car-free.

Vehicles are being barred between 42nd and 47th streets at Times Square and 33rd and 35th Streets at Herald Square.
City officials say the move will reduce pollution and pedestrian accidents and ease traffic flow in the area known as “crossroads of the world”.

“It’s good for traffic, it’s good for businesses and we think it is going to be great deal of fun,” city transport commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan said last week.

The symbolism of the financial heart of the American empire discouraging the use of the automobile will hopefully be noticed.

Clean the Air While Biking – With Plants

Here’s a neat idea to clean the air while getting around town – build a bicycle with a plant box. You can follow the complete instructions at the link, but it looks like it takes a bit of work. I’m sure it’s a pleasure to ride with the smell of fresh herbs or flowers under your nose.

Plant bike

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