self storage road

The Growing Shadow of Self Storage

As January comes to a close most of the presents of the holiday season have probably found a place in our homes. Shelves are a bit heavier. Closets are a bit fuller. Unclaimed space is a bit rarer. The success of the retail industry shows itself in our collective burgeoning homes and as the spring […]

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Cities of 2030, Today

Cities can grow to defy our current perceptions of plausibility. In the future, each spire in a collection of gleaming, vertical towers could harness density through a mixture of use types from working to living to growing food. Not only could each building produce its own renewable energy, but the excess could be pumped back […]

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Center for Architecture Resiliency

Architects Hail from NYC and Europe to Talk Urban Resiliency

Contrary to the statements of some and the hopes of many, there are no silver bullets for solving challenges surrounding sustainability. Part of this is due to the complexity of the problems, some is due to the fact that there are so many points of view for problem solving and a piece of the responsibility falls […]

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Reviewed: Sustainable Urbanism

Douglas Farr Book DesignSustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature

By Douglas Farr

In One Line: A well-crafted overview of sustainable planning strategies with a broad lens that is valuable for a range of readers as a foundation to a library of stewardship. 

The complexity of sustainability is one of its worse enemies. Our modern attempts to condense information can run counter to helping others understand the intricacies of our biosphere. With only portions of information the solutions can see deceivingly easy, mistakenly small in number or both. Some of the stronger voices end up being the ones that can package complex issues with clarity and brevity for retention in a broader audience. Continue reading

Reviewed: Explosion Green

book sustainability LEED USGBCExplosion Green

By David Gottfried

In One Line: A low-stress read for an informative look behind the curtain from a key figure responsible for the start of the green building movement. 

For over two decades the USGBC’s LEED rating system has been an undeniably important part of the story of sustainability entering into the industries responsible for our built environment. Thanks to the work of countless individuals and organizations LEED is now a term known broadly outside of the cadre that designs and constructs buildings as well as far beyond the borders of the U.S. It is a great story, but it’s not the entire story. In Explosion Green David Gottfried shares the history of a world before the United States Green Building Council and the dedicated efforts of those that helped to make it a reality. This unique memoir follows the setbacks, revelations and achievements for one of LEED’s earliest advocates.

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Reviewed: A Country of Cities

Country of Cities CoverA Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America

By Vishaan Chakrabarti

In One Line: Nice graphics tell a familiar urban story more fit for casual readers than seasoned design professionals.

In the midst of a global economy that is already migrating towards cities, Chakrabarti adds his voice to the drumbeat of density in a pitch for focusing development towards our urban cores. Pulling on some of the usual suspects for data, the author focuses his sermon on why dense urban centers are the smart future for human civilization—an unspoken but heavily implied slight to what has become the American status quo of sprawling, suburban/exurban development. The pro-urban message of the text combined with the choices of precedent projects come at little surprise given the author’s partner status at SHoP Architects, currently one of New York City’s most prolific architecture firms. Continue reading

Testing the Numbers on Recycling of Recyclables

single stream recycling truckBy now, most of us know the drill for washing out glass and plastic containers and placing them the blue or green bins rather than bundling them with the rest of the trash. It has been decades since residents were first able to separate out recyclables from other waste for curbside pick-up. What started out as smaller local trends are now mature municipal services in some of the largest cities across the country. However, despite the millions of tons of waste that has been diverted from landfills for a life of reuse, we have certainly not reached the point where we are recycling everywhere in the U.S. and the places that do recycle are often still trashing considerable amounts of waste that could have more life to live. Continue reading

Energy Conservation at Home Needs Real Time Data

Home energy management softwareIn the United States, sustainable progress most often takes the form of ways to engineer a more efficient version of the status quo. Products that allow for a reduction in net resource use while allowing customers to live the same way are seen as a win/win. To be fair, the small advances we can take through greener product choices are a first step and certainly better than nothing, even if course-altering impacts towards a sustainable culture will require the underlying lifestyle to evolve. If greener consumerism is one of the paths that Americans are responding to then the products need to do more than provide a promise for eventual savings. The more that people can connect choices of product usage to resource repercussions in real time, the better the chance that lifestyles can alter to maximize the use of more efficient products. Continue reading

Cook Browning Szenasy Kampschroer Panel

Seeking Sustainability the Building Industry Targets Human Health

Even with the progress that both designers and governmental offices have made in bolstering the ecological stewardship of our new building stock, the average baseline of construction is still notably far from the realm of consistently viable options we have at our disposal, let alone the cutting edge. All too often, too many aspects of our new buildings have more to do with the past than the future. The call for sustainability in the built environment has undeniably gained in strength and continued to garner support from municipalities that raise the minimum standard of building codes. Still, sustainability has faced the same headwinds in the design and construction of buildings that it has in other areas of business as well as the social and political arenas. Continue reading

Hive Farm Proposes Plug and Play Vertical Farming

Mid Rise Hive FarmWhile the interest in the prospects of Vertical Farming have picked up over the last few years with the topic finding its way into more articles and design competitions, we have yet to see a corresponding surge in prototypes going into construction. We have not suddenly come to an ulterior solution for how to supply more locally grown produce to our cities with a reduced carbon footprint behind it by any means, but financing hasn’t yet found a model for vertical farming that seems to be worth bringing past the brainstorming stage. However, a new proposal by OVA Studio that pushes a modular version of vertical farms is in the process of trying to secure funding for prototype design and construction, hoping to be the model that bucks the trend.  Continue reading

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