“Launched in 2015, the Sponge City Initiative invests in projects that aim to soak up floodwater. The projects are being built in 30 cities. By 2020, China hopes that 80% of its urban areas will absorb and re-use at least 70% of rainwater,” wrote Leanna Garfield. “The initiative is facing some challenges. After surveying all 30 cities, the researchers noticed several roadblocks, including planning models that are too homogeneous and not locally specific.”
“A presentation many years ago by Patrick Condon put me on the path to integration. Patrick’s storytelling made me realize that everything we do has an effect somewhere else,” says Ramin Seifi, General Manager, Engineering & Community Development, Township of Langley
“When the previous General Manager of Engineering retired in 2011, our Chief Administrative Officer listened when I presented the case for doing both jobs – Engineering and Community Development,” stated Ramin Seifi. “The Township needed more integration to respond to the demands on infrastructure and the risks to the environment resulting from rapid population growth. Achieving integration depended on the Township having a better structure.”
“Commissioned by the Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning department, the city will host some 30,000 residents and feature the hallmarks of a typical city, such as offices, houses, hotels, hospitals and schools. These buildings will draw on geothermal energy and rooftop solar panel for their power needs,” wrote Nick Lavars. “Construction is currently underway, with the Liuzhou Forest City expected to be completed by 2020.”
Coping with Heat and Rising Water Levels: “The Pacific Northwest is the best region in the United States for escaping the brunt of climate change,” stated Vivek Shandas, Portland State University
Places with newer infrastructure, with Climate Change Action Plans, that seek to build community across socioeconomic barriers, and are close to rivers or lakes are more likely to be prepared for the worst aspects of climate change. “When evaluating how prepared cities are for climate change, look at a handful of factors, including policy and politics, community organization, and infrastructure,” said Professor Vivek Shandas.
Architect Stefano Boeri is passionate about green infrastructure and demonstrates the art of the possible. “Cities are two per cent of the entire Earth’s land surface, but they are producing 70 per cent of CO2. If we seriously want to deal with climate change, we have to study where climate change is produced. Forests absorb approximately 40 per cent of [man-made] CO2, so increasing the number of trees and plants inside a city is a crucial issue,” comments Stefano Boeri.
“Sponge Cities” – a catchy way to describe the goal in restoring the capacity of the urban landscape to absorb water and release it naturally
In 2013, President Xi Jinping injected a new term into the global urban design vocabulary when he launched China’s Sponge City program. And then in August 2017, the Senate of Berlin released its Sponge City Strategy. The common guiding philosophy for both? Mimic nature, restore the water balance, adapt to a changing climate. The ‘sponge city’ imagery resonates. People intuitively get it.
Adapting to Climate Change in Hong Kong: “To cope with stormwater flooding, the Government could adopt the ‘Sponge City’ concept,” urges Dr. Jeffrey Hung, Friends of the Earth
“Climate change is already happening and affecting all of us. Recent extreme weather highlight the concrete impact of climate change. It requires immediate action to improve the city’s resilience,” wrote Dr. Jeffrey Hung. “The Hong Kong Government should identify the risks, reinforce the infrastructure, establish recovery programmes, educate the public, and finance the reinforcements and adaptation measures to make Hong Kong truly climate change ready.”
DESIGN WITH NATURE: Top Ten Cities in USA are Integrating Nature & Technology – a new report (2017) by Anil Ahuja, Smart Cities Guru
Smart Cities Guru founder Anil Ahuja has compiled a list of the top U.S. cities — from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles — that have found a way to combine technology and nature. “The challenge is to raise the bar for designing net zero living while enjoying and protecting the natural world. Water, Energy, Health, Equity and Beauty can all be protected and integrated through constructive implementation of technology,” wrote Anil Ahuja.
GREEN SPACE & HUMAN HEALTH: “Studies show that there is a definite link between mental health and living proximity to parks,” wrote Brian Strahan, mental health activist
In his article, Brian Strahan poses these questions: “What has a crystalline, winding, stream, got to do, with gaining clarity of mind? And what have the sawtooth edges, and linear veins on the leaves of an Alder tree, got to do got to do with someone’s capacity to adhere to societal norms and mores? How much vision is there on the long-term effects of living with more concrete and less space? We need to invest more in urban nature. It will improve mental health.”
DESIGN WITH NATURE: “It’s time we recognized the importance of intact nature and built green infrastructure as central to flood-prevention efforts,” wrote David Suzuki
“Floods have become one of the most visible signs of the effects of climate change in cities, towns and rural areas throughout Canada,” stated David Suzuki. “The Insurance Bureau of Canada found one in five Canadians faces some level of flood risk, and 1.8 million households are at very high risk. Climate change–related events — including floods, drought and fires — are a drain on personal finances and the economy.”