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‘Design With Nature’ to Create Liveable Communities

What do Boise, Idaho and London, England have in common? – These Urban Cities Are Investing In Smart And Green Infrastructure


Boise uses geothermal energy to heat more than six million square feet of downtown building space, about 90 buildings and is the largest-direct-use system in the United States. “Sustainability for us is all about the triple bottom line – community, economy and environment,” said Boise Mayor David Bieter . “Being green is important, but only if those changes can become part of the very fabric of who we are as a community, how our local businesses prosper and grow, and how we protect those key elements that make Boise such a special place to call home.”

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XIONGAN NEW AREA: “Is China’s ‘city of the future’ a replicable model? Success of Xiong’an’s ambitious green experiment seems guaranteed but its strength may make it hard to emulate,” writes Li Jing


“As part of its green initiatives, Xiong’an will become a testing ground for innovative green financing tools to fund projects to clean up local water systems, build energy-saving buildings and public transportation systems. Whilst the commitment to sustainable development is commendable, the real environmental benefits of Xiong’an’s green experiments are questionable considering the area suffers from chronic water scarcity and severe ecological degradation,” wrote Li Jing.

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DESIGNING WITH NATURE IN NEW YORK CITY: “For better resiliency, don’t just try to defeat nature—work with it,” says Carter Strickland, New York state director of The Trust for Public Land


“Before Hurricane Sandy, most New Yorkers felt immune from natural disasters. We don’t experience frequent tornadoes like parts of the Midwest, earthquakes like California, or droughts and wildfires that have scorched much of the west. Sandy was our wakeup call for how climate change will have significant and widespread affects,” wrote Carter Strickland. “By including innovative parks and playgrounds in our long-term planning, New York City can serve as a model for American coastal cities looking for ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

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Retrofitting Cities for Tomorrow’s World (2017): “What is needed is a new approach, based on futures thinking, which embeds the ideas of ecological and social resilience into the very fabric of the built environment of cities,” says Malcolm Eames, editor


“Today, a key challenge for policy and decision makers globally is how best to develop the knowledge and capacity to use resources more sustainably. Governments in the UK and across the world are therefore introducing increasingly challenging targets to reduce the impact we have on our environment,” stated Dr. Malcolm Eames. “However, in what is an increasingly urbanised world, ‘piecemeal’ change cannot equip cities, as major foci of global population, to rise to the challenges of climate change. “

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN AUSTRALIA: Two years after launching the award-winning Cool Streets project in Sydney’s Blacktown, landscape architect Libby Gallagher remains a staunch advocate for the role that street trees play in mitigating the impacts of climate change and making better cities


“Environmental issues can seem monumental and overwhelming. But if you give people an opportunity to engage with something at their front door, suddenly they feel empowered to start making a positive difference,” stated Dr. Libby Gallagher. “It’s a process of empowering residents to make the right choice for their street, and enabling people to meet each other on the street. This factor is critical in building resilience. It provides people with a sense of ‘this is something that I can do’.”

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Be the Hands that Restore the Land: “Physical geography should be integral to larger ecology and not just a beautification tool,” says landscape architect Akshay Kaul


“There is a severe shortfall in human resource to manage the environmental challenges in planning and design. Consider the Himalayas. Over the years, the less steep land has been built upon. We are left with very steep land to build on. It poses huge challenges in terms of creating roads, managing storm water, sub-surface drainage system, erosion and slope stabilization. The present techniques of retaining walls through concrete or stone are expensive and a visual eyesore—they do not take the more important issue of hydrology into consideration,” states Akshay Kaul.

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Go green for healthier, happier, richer cities: “Low-carbon measures can help to achieve a range of development priorities,” states Andy Gouldson, lead author of the University of Leeds research project


“As the evidence mounted up, we were struck by the fact that the cities we want – cleaner, healthier, richer – are made possible through climate action,” said lead author of the study Andy Gouldson, a professor at the University of Leeds. “Whether high-quality public transport or segregated cycling lanes, energy-efficient buildings or better waste management, the dollars, lives and hours saved are impressive.”

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Financing the New Water Infrastructure: “Green and distributed infrastructure options are having their moment, and municipal leaders are taking notice,” wrote Cynthia Koehler, executive director of the WaterNow Alliance


“The challenge for green and distributed water strategies is scale. The power of these systems to provide truly meaningful benefits, and big savings, to cities and towns is in the aggregate. So how do we move from important but scattered success stories to making these options easily available to municipalities facing a range of water issues? Adopting distributed systems at large-scale requires that cities and towns have the option to use municipal bond proceeds to pay for consumer rebates, direct installations and other distributed infrastructure initiatives,” Cynthia Koehler.

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Discovering Nature’s Infrastructure Potential on Vancouver Island: “The long-term vision is to transform a decommissioned sawmill site on the Courtenay River into a valuable eco-asset corridor,” stated Project Watershed’s Jennifer Sutherst


“All the salmon stocks that are returning to spawn in the Tsolum River watershed or the Puntledge River watershed have to migrate past the site,” stated Jennifer Sutherst. “We want to take this community eyesore and turn it into an ecological asset. It’s really important to see that we’re going to be able to turn the site back to a natural functioning condition. Then it’s going to support fish and wildlife and be  a community asset. We’re also going to have the opportunity to build in some flood attenuation capacity.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Development and watershed protection can be compatible. Early success on the ground has given us increasing confidence that the 50-year vision is within our grasp,” stated Kim Stephens in a presentation to the Urban Development Institute


“Urban land use has been degrading the natural environment for more than 100 years. Sit on that for a while. 100 years, perhaps more. Holy smokes. So what’s all this talk about developers and builders, the ultimate urban land users, protecting watersheds? It’s true. Developers who increase the amount of pervious surfaces on their sites keep rain on-site, delay runoff, and reduce flooding. City planners and engineers love this,” stated Marie Savage.

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