How Architects are Responding to the Climate Crisis

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Architecture is all around us and most of us don’t even think about it. The built environment shapes how we think and provides (or denies) us with options on how to navigate the world and engage with it. This means that if we change the built environment we can change the planet. Years of thoughtless car friendly development have contributed greatly to the climate crisis and now architects are doing what they can to mitigate harm.

The Architects Declare Movement is Founded

In May, some of the world’s leading UK-based architects joined forces to call for industry-led action on the twin issues of climate change and biodiversity loss. The “Architects Declare” group includes firms such as Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, and Zaha Hadid Architects.

Utrecht’s 300 Bee-Friendly Bus Stops

In July, we reported that the City of Utrecht Council, in collaboration with advertising agency Clear Channel, has transformed 316 bus stops across the city into “bee stops.” The adaption involved installing green roofs onto the bus stops, creating bee-friendly spaces for the endangered species.

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African Development Bank is Going Green

solar

Banks have a reputation for being too greedy for the good of anyone outside themselves; however, some banks are thinking in the long term. The African Development Bank has announced a partnership with Green Climate Fund to push renewable energy and resilient systems. They figure that Africa is the best part of the world to achieve a sustainable economy because of the increasing investment in the continent and the ability to ‘leap frog’ older energy technology.

Together with the Green Climate Fund, we can do a lot to move the continent towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development.”

Approved as a GCF Accredited Entity in March 2016, AfDB is working on a series of mitigation and adaptation initiatives at the national and regional levels designed to enhance African countries’ access to GCF resources.

GCF Executive Director, Howard Bamsey said GCF’s partnership with AfDB will be key in unlocking the potential across the African continent to pursue climate resilient and low-emission growth.

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Living Off the Grid in a Major City

Most people think living off the grid means living the countryside with your own well, reenable energy, and food source. The truth is that style of off the grid requires massive space to work (for example, a well needs a large area to collect water from), so that rural off the grid doesn’t work for everyone.

What is a person living in the city to do to get off the grid though?

Back in the 90s there was a competition throughout Canada to figure that out. One winner is still living in his house that is off the grid in Toronto.

“We promised to make the house self-sufficient and not use any non-renewable fuel,” Paloheimo said.

“Despite the home’s high-tech appearance, most of the products and systems are simple and straightforward,” said Chris Ives, CMHC project manager, said in a Toronto Healthy House report published after the house was built.

“Off-grid houses do not necessarily require hours of labour for upkeep. In fact, everything in the house is easy to maintain and available in today’s marketplace.”

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Using Giant Floating Turbines in the Future

Last year we looked at a company testing floating wind turbines in Alaska and how they want to use these turbines in remote locations. The testing seems to be going well and other companies have taken note. The amount of potential energy high in the atmosphere is massive and these floating turbines are well suited to capture that energy.

Over at Gizmodo they looked into the future of how these wind turbines can be used and their potential for transforming how we produce energy.

This is all to say that we use a lot of power, and could probably harness a lot more of it using wind turbines. Which brings us back to the question we started with: What if we changed the climate with wind turbines? I know this sounds totally crazy, but I swear to you this is something that scientists have actually looked into. So naturally, I talked to one of those scientists.

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Community Solar Garden to Open in BC

Germany, and to a lesser extent other nations, have championed community-owned sustainable energy production. In many ways it gives power to the people. Indeed, one way to encourage mass adoption of sustainable energy is to make policies which favour decentralized and community owned production. This means that big utility companies often oppose such efforts.

In British Columbia the city of Nelson may be the first city in Canada to take on this German-insipred approach. They are looking to open a solar facility which not only provides energy to the people it provides added revenue.

A community solar garden is a centralized solar panel farm that gives homeowners and businesses access to solar energy without having to install and maintain panels on their own roof.

The price of the electricity purchased from the proposed solar project in Nelson would cost residents more, but initial community feedback indicates people would be willing to pay the extra costs, said Proctor.

It’s about more than trying to save money, she said, and added costs eventually will even out.

Nelson Hydro is still working out detailed costs, but says people could end up investing something like $1,000 for a solar panel space for 25 years. They can either pay a lump sum up front or make monthly payments of about $3.47 until the solar panel space is paid off.

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