Look at This Landscaping Called Xeriscaping

California is suffering a huge drought due to horrible water use policies and climate change. For some reason people love to have lawns where they naturally shouldn’t exist, this itself leads to massive water wastage and arguably microclimate issues. Thankfully, perhaps people are beginning to understand that their landscaping is a sad attempt to modify their built environment.
A better solution than an artificial environment is a natural one. Xeriscaping may be a good solution to reduce water waste. Check out how it can replace lawns with aesthetic and naturally pleasing solutions.

Til the Well Runs Dry: How Xeriscaping Helps Conserve Water

Read More

A Billboard That Finally Has a Reason to Exist: Free Water

)

In Lima, Peru, there is a new billboard that is selling an idea by providing free water to the local population. Water access is an issue in the area for a variety of reasons which impacts poverty and other water-related issues in the area. A local engineering school wanted to show potential new students what impact they can have on their country and chose to make a billboard a functional piece of infrastructure with simple engineering.

Usually when billboards are mentioned on this site it’s because they are being banned or taxed more to fund city beautification projects. It’s nice to be able to show a billboard that does something out of the ordinary to improve people’s lives.

“We wanted future students to see how engineers can also solve social needs in daily basis kinds of situations,” said Alejandro Aponte, creative director at Mayo DraftFCB.

The city’s residents could certainly use the help. According to a 2011 The Independent piece ominously titled “The desert city in serious danger of running dry,” about 1.2 million residents of Lima lack running water entirely, depending on unregulated private-company water trucks to deliver the goods — companies that charge up to 30 soles (US $10) per cubic meter of H2O, or as The Independent notes, 20 times what more well-off residents pay for their tapwater.

Read more here.

Thanks to Kathryn!

Read More

London Starts Planting Green Walls for Flood Prevention

Earlier this year, Toronto suffered some severe flooding and city planner Jennifer Keesmat composed this great tweet:

One of those programs she is referring to is the tower renewal program which helped energy conservation, local ecologies, and improve housing conditions. Toronto’s mayor ensures these programs don’t get funding.

Here in Toronto where we have a druggy mayor who hates the environment who also sat in an idling SUV during the flooding (idling is illegal in the city). The mayor has gone out of his way to ensure that Toronto treats the local environment worse than it did the year before. I mention this as a contrast to what is happening in England’s biggest city.

In London, they have a mayor who actually knows that climate change is happening and the city is doing something about it. London is no stranger to threat of flooding, indeed the Thames barrier’s lifetime has been reduced due to the increased pace of climate change. With most usable space already consumed, what is the city to do?

London has turned to constructing green walls! The walls absorb water that would otherwise contribute to flooding within the city by soaking up rainwater.

The wall captures rainwater from the roof of the hotel in dedicated storage tanks; the rainwater is then channeled slowly through the wall to nourish plants, simultaneously reducing surface water on the streets below. “The plants themselves will take up rain too, so the rain doesn’t fall on the street below,” says Beamont.

During the design process, Grant picked out native ferns, English ivy, geraniums, strawberry and primroses for the living wall, using the Royal Horticultural Society’s pollinators list as a guide. “My approach is to use native species in natural associations, however sometimes it’s not practicable because of problems with availability or a lack of visual interest or late flowering,” he says. “It’s still necessary to choose plants that are known to thrive in living walls, or are likely to thrive in living walls, and are suited to the aspect and microclimate.”

Read more at Co.Exist.

Read More

Green Roofs Assist in Flood Prevention

Yesterday Toronto got more rain in two hours than it normally does in a month which meant some serious flooding happened. This got me thinking of a program that Toronto (alleged crackhead) Mayor (busted for DUI) Rob (loves pollution) Ford (reads while driving) cancelled. The cancelled program promoted green roofs to help with flood control while lessening wear on existing infrastructure.

So the ineptitude of the current Toronto mayor got me thinking of how things could have been different with forethought of climate change. It’s worth noting that Rob Ford spent the flood idling in his SUV:

I gathered some example of other cities and areas that are using green roofs (and similar) to curb their flooding problems.

In Singapore they have combined recreation with flood prevention:

The barrage is part of a comprehensive system of flood control to decrease flooding in the low-lying areas in the busy quarters of the city. During the heavy rains, a series of nine crest gates activate to release excess storm water into the sea when the tide is low. When high tide comes in, giant pumps drain excess storm water at at a rate of one Olympic-size swimming pool per minute.

In New York they are looking into a variety of solutions, which we looked at before.

In Rotterdam, the city’s green roof initiative has proven to be effective in flood alleviation.

Although large areas of green roofs have many benefits for cities, such as reducing air pollution and helping to combat the heat island effect, Rotterdam’s priority was for water retention, since the city has a shortage of areas where water can be stored following heavy rainfall. Water management has always been a major concern in the Netherlands, since approximately 60% of the country lies below sea level. The analysis of the potential of green roofs in Rotterdam that preceded the introduction of the subsidies focused heavily on their capacity for water storage in order to reduce peak water discharge following a rain storm and help prevent flooding.

Over in the UK, the Green Roof Centre has quite a lot of information on how green roofs can help flood management:

Once established a green roof can significantly reduce both peak flow rates and total runoff volume of rainwater from the roof compared to a conventional roof. Green roofs store rainwater in the plants and substrate and release water back into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.

The amount of water that is stored on a green roof, and then evapotranspired into the atmosphere, is dependent on the depth and type of growing medium, type of drainage layer, vegetation used and regional weather. The FLL Guidelines should be followed to ensure that actual runoff will be in accordance with calculated runoff.

A green roof can easily be designed to prevent runoff from all rainfall events of up to 5 mm and as part of a SuDS strategy, should reduce the volume of surface or underground attenuation required at the site boundary. In summer, green roofs can retain 70–80% of rainfall and in winter they retain 10–35% depending on their build-up (Green roofs benefits and cost implications, Livingroofs.org In association with ecologyconsultancy, March 2004). The difference is due to a combination of more winter rainfall and less evapotranspiration by the plants because growth is not as vigorous during the winter months.

Edit:
I like this tweet from Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmat as a good conclusion to this post:

Read More

Ontario Saves Experimental Lakes Area

The federal government of Canada is so anti-environment that it hurts everyone on the planet. Their unwavering support for the world-destroying tar sands, refusal to work with other countries to improve the planet, and their inability to acknowledge human influenced climate change is revolting and regressive. Now that I got that off my chest….

Their most recent insult to environmental science in Canada was to shutter the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario. Don’t worry, this is where the good news comes. Lucky, the provincial government understands the importance of monitoring our changing climate and stepped up to save the ongoing project.

The remote region of 58 pristine lakes has been used since the late 1960s for groundbreaking freshwater studies.

It became the subject of controversy when Ottawa announced last year that it was closing the area to save $2 million annually.

The Ontario government says it is working collaboratively with the federal government, the Manitoba government and others to keep the area operational this year and to ensure sustained longer-term operations.

It says the research performed in the area helps with pollution reduction strategies, understanding of climate change and how to protect our lakes and rivers in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.

Read more at the National Post.

Read More