Historic Passing of the Climate Mobilization Act in New York City – Green Roofs Required on New Buildings (April 2019)
The Climate Mobilization Act is the largest single act to cut climate pollution of any city. In a densely packed metropolitan of over seven million residents, commercial and residential buildings are the largest source of emissions and sit at the center of the policy change. “My legislation will require green roofs to be installed on new residential and commercial buildings, making New York the largest city in the nation to pass such a law,” stated Rafael Espinal. “We’ve already seen the revolutionary benefits of green roofs in action thanks to places around the city.”
JUST RELEASED (March 2019): “Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next Generation Infrastructure” – joint report by World Bank and World Resources Institute states that the next generation of infrastructure can help drive economies and strengthen communities and the environment
“21st century challenges require innovative solutions and utilizing all the tools at our disposal. And integrating ‘green’ natural systems like forests, wetlands and flood plains into ‘gray’ infrastructure system shows how nature can lie at the heart of sustainable development. ‘Integrating Green & Gray – Creating Next-Generation Infrastructure’ provides guidance on how to do just that,” stated Greg Browder, World Bank Global Lead for Water Security & Lead Author.
CREATING NEXT GENERATION INFRASTRUCTURE: “By harnessing the power of nature, infrastructure services can be provided at a lower cost while delivering greater impact,” wrote Andrew Steer in the foreword to a landmark report on integrating green and gray infrastructure (March 2019)
“Green infrastructure can be cheaper and more resilient than gray infrastructure alone—and it can produce substantial benefits beyond what the balance sheets measure,” states Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “These nature-based solutions can help us meet the infrastructure investment gap in a cost-effective manner, while lifting up local communities with benefits in their backyards. We’re at a climate inflection point, and in the midst of an infrastructure crisis. Now more than ever, the world must tap into nature’s wealth.”
IMPROVING WHERE WE LIVE: At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, Tim Ennis elaborates on precedent-setting nature of “Kus-kus-sum Restoration on the Courtenay River – Transforming a Decommissioned Sawmill Site into a Valuable Habitat Corridor”
“The economic return to the community through this project will far outweigh the costs. For example, the restored site will have tremendous potential to absorb floodwaters and provide resiliency to buffer the effects of climate change from more frequent and severe rain storms, sea-level rise, and storm surge events. This will mitigate the flooding-related costs to Courtenay, which have been in the ballpark of $500,000 per event,” stated Tim Ennis.
WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: “The essential ingredients for restorative development encompass: vision, strategy to deliver the vision, and commitment to implement an ongoing program,” says John Finnie, Chair of the Parksville 2019 Symposium Organizing Committee (Asset Management BC Newsletter, February 2019)
“Guided by a whole-system, water balance approach, restorative land development would reconnect hydrology and ecology, and this would: reduce stream erosion, flooding and the associated infrastructure liability; increase the dry weather baseflow in streams; and stem the loss of aquatic habitat and fish. Connecting dots, then, a key message is that restorative land development results in sustainable stream restoration,” says John Finnie.
GREENING ROCK CREEK DRAINAGE AREA IN WASHINGTON, DC: Re-engineering the city to reverse the damage done by engineers of generations past, using modern technology to imitate how nature handles rainwater and stormwater runoff
“I was just reading an article recently by a Washington Post reporter back in the 1930s, saying it was a ‘lusty stream,’” Steve Dryden says. “Development in the early 20th century just paved all of this over.” Before most of Piney Branch disappeared under pavement, the “lusty” creek drained storm water from more than 2,000 acres of forests and fields. The land naturally absorbed much of the rain. Now, all that water is instead funneled into underground pipes. “This is the foundational mistake that was made in developing cities and suburbs.”
Bringing Nature Back to the Urban Core – a photo feature on three US cities that are seeking to restore their connection to nature by reclaiming land for green space
Frederick Law Olmsted understood nature’s ability to rejuvenate the mind and body. One of the principal designers of Central Park in New York, he took pains to replicate the gentle beauty he saw in European parks that blended trees and shrubs, streams and bridges. “The park throughout is a single work of art,” he wrote. The relationship between humans and nature improves mental health and promotes prosocial behavior. But as cities grow, green space is squeezed out. Community leaders are finding ways to restore some of the balance.
“There’s no widely accepted method to calculate the more ephemeral value that trees provide, such as joy in their beauty, as resting places for birds, or the coolness of their shade,” says Bonnie Keeler – her area of expertise at the University of Minnesota is natural capital and the value of ecosystems
Bonnie Keeler reviewed 1,200 scientific studies on increasingly popular green infrastructures such as urban forests, parks, rain gardens, and wetlands and found in a recent paper that it’s unclear how well any of them stack up against “gray” solutions like concrete storm sewers and air conditioning. “There is a huge interest in expanding funding for green infrastructures,” she said. “But we don’t have a tool to understand their value.”
INSPIRED BY STEFANO BOERI’S VISION FOR “FOREST CITIES”: Toronto’s Newest Skyscaper Will Be Completely Covered In Trees
Toronto’s urban canopy is already home to over 10 million trees, which currently envelops 26% of the city’s surface area. Mayor John Tory, however, has bigger plans for Ontario’s capital; he wants to transform Toronto into a waking ecological metropolis. A local architecture firm is helping Tory achieve his goal, in a very cool, but unconventional manner. Toronto’s version of the vertical forest may be standing as early as late 2020, proving that green space is not confined to the ground.
Michigan’s Struggles to Fund Stormwater Infrastructure: “Paying more for infrastructure and utilities is the new reality,” said engineer Greg Kacvinsky
“The pipes that we put in the ground 50 years ago were designed under a different set of criteria. And so when rainfall changes, and when climate changes, the system doesn’t provide the same level of service that it used to. Where communities used to be able to rely on money coming down, or raining down, from the federal government, now the federal government is there to say, we’ll give you money…but you’re gonna pay us back,” Greg Kacvinsky said.