The Green Minds

Knowledge To Get Into a Green Frame of Mind

Archive for New York City

New York City’s Motto: I Heart Tap Water


NEW YORK — New York City is so proud of its tap water that the Bloomberg administration has come up with a product line to promote it as an affordable, sustainable alternative to bottled water, according to the New York Times.

The merchandise, which bears a NYC Water logo, ranges from glasses and T-shirts to coasters, decanters and water bottles and is available at CityStore, the city’s online shop for all things New York, the story stated.

Cas Holloway, New York City’s environmental protection commissioner, said: “Our high-quality drinking water not only quenches New Yorkers’ thirst, but is the not-so-secret ingredient in the bagels, pizza and thousands of other dishes that people come from around the world to get.”

According to the story, the water is so clean that it does not require filtration and comes from highly protected watersheds in Upstate New York.

The Environmental Protection Department oversees a daily supply of more than one billion gallons of water that serves more than nine million people, the story noted.

To reduce consumption of bottled water, New York City is also providing outdoor drinking water stations this summer connected to fire hydrants at parks, public plazas and other outdoor spaces, the story added.

Click here to read the complete story.

For related information, click here.

Keeping Times Square Cool


The New York City Department of Transportation has announced the winner of its reNEWable Times Square design competition, aimed to temporarily “refresh and revive” the streetscape of newly pedestrianized Times Square while plans for permanent reconstruction proceed (construction is slated for 1012).  Brooklyn artist Molly Dilworth‘s Cool Water, Hot Island was selected from 150 submitted designs for the pedestrian zones along Broadway from 47th to 42nd Streets.  The piece is a large-scale painted installation abstractly interpreting—and mitigating!—Manhattan’s heat island effect.  From NYCDOT’s release:

The proposed design’s color palette of striking blues and whites reflects more sunlight and absorb less heat – improving the look of these popular pedestrian plazas while making them more comfortable to sit in. The color and patterns evoke water, suggesting a river flowing through the center of Times Square, and they also provide a compelling visual counterpoint to the reds, oranges and yellows of the area’s signature marquees and billboards.

It isn’t the artist’s first brush with large-scale installations in the City: more of her work is viewable through her flickr streamCool Water will be installed in July.

Source : TreeHugger

Connecting the Built and Natural Environment


Summer Brings Cooling Public Art to New York City

Molly Dilworth, a Brooklyn-based artist, won the New York City Department of Transportation reNEWable Times Square design competition. The competition sought new design ideas for temporary surface treatments in Times Square. Dilworth’s winning project, “Cool Water, Hot Island,” will add a bold new temporary surface to the central plaza’s streetscape in mid-July.

According to TreeHugger, Dilworth’s design is both graphically compelling and educational — it helps raise awareness about the urban heat island effect and cities’ contribution to climate change. The design is ”composed of a graphical representation of NASA’s infrared satellite data of Manhattan and focuses on the urban heat-island effect, where cities tend to experience warmer temperatures than rural settings.”

The New York City Department of Transportation adds that the design will make Times Square more comfortable in the summer and add a counterpoint to the blitz of the billboards. ”The proposed design’s color palette of striking blues and whites reflects more sunlight and absorb less heat – improving the look of these popular pedestrian plazas while making them more comfortable to sit in. The color and patterns evoke water, suggesting a river flowing through the center of Times Square, and they also provide a compelling visual counterpoint to the reds, oranges and yellows of the area’s signature marquees and billboards.”

“Cool Water, Hot Island” is expected to unroll in Times Square by mid-July.

In another part of NYC, Governors Island just hosted Figment NYC, a weeklong festival focused on interactive, participatory art. Metropolis magazine wrote that the festival included artworks, and semi-permanent installations like a mini-golf course, sculpture garden, as well as “Living Pavilion,” the winner of this year’s City of Dreams pavilion design competition.

Created by New York architects Behrang Behin and Ann Ha, Living Pavilion is a “low-tech, zero-impact installation that employs reclaimed milk crates as the framework for growing a planted surface similar to a green wall. The pavilion’s assembly is simple and modular, relying on common materials such as heavy-duty packaging straps and weather-treated wood for its installation,” says Figment NYC. To provide respite from NYC’s humid summer, the pavilion was designed to be cool inside. “The pavilion offers a shaded environment that is maintained at a cooler temperature because of evapotranspiration from its planted surfaces.”

When the exhibition ends, the structure will be taken down piece by piece and consumed or reused. “As the vaulting form of the pavilion hits the ground, it unfolds into a mat of crates planted with crops that can be harvested and distributed to the community. At the end of the season, its modular design will allow easy disassembly, and distribution of the planted milk crates to the New York area for use in homes, public places, and community gardens.”

The Living Pavilion can be viewed on New York’s Governor’s Island until October 3.

Image credits (1) NYC Department of Transportation, (2) Figment NYC

Source : TheDirty

Football is green. Waka! Waka!


2030 Vision of Urban Transport



Our Cities Ourselves is on view from June 24 to September 11, 2010

Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place, NY, NY 10012

Our Cities Ourselves: The Future of Transportation in Urban Life explores the creation of better cities through better transportation and demonstrates what is possible when we design our cities for ourselves.

By 2030, sixty percent of the world’s population will live in cities. As cities become increasingly dense, personal automobiles will become less and less feasible transport options. Sustainable transportation will be the key to the health of our cities, our own health, and the health of the environment.

In honor of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s 25th anniversary, Our Cities Ourselves envisions sustainable urban futures for ten major global cities: Ahmedabad, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Dar es Salaam, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Mexico City, New York City and Rio de Janeiro. In each city, ITDP field offices and international architects propose ideal transportation futures grounded in current conditions. The proposals present safe, vibrant streets that promote social and economic equality, privilege mass transit, bicyclists and pedestrians, and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Exhibition Architects:
Ahmedabad, India | HCP Design and Project Management
Budapest, Hungary | Varos-Teampannon and Kozlekedes
Buenos Aires, Argentina | PALO Arquitectura Urbana
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | Adjaye Associates
Guangzhou, China | Urbanus Architecture & Design
Jakarta, Indonesia | Budi Pradono Architects
Johannesburg, South Africa | Osmond Lange Architects and Ikemeleng Architects
Mexico City, Mexico | arquitectura 911sc
New York City, United States | Terreform and Michael Sorkin Studio
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Fábrica Arquitetura and CAMPO

Source : AIANY |  OurCitiesOurselves

Solving Problems With Sustainable – and Beautiful – Design



‘Why Design Now?’, a new exhibition in NYC, explores ways to solve problems with innovative design

Timothy Prestero designed a baby incubator for hospitals in the developing world that could be made cheaply from Toyota truck parts. Mallory Taub and fellow students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created an inexpensive, easy-to-build dome using locally made bricks. John Todd’s Eco-Machine, in use in more than 100 locations, provides a sustainable alternative to traditional wastewater treatment, a natural system that’s not only practical but beautiful.

Visitors exploring the wide-ranging “Why Design Now?” exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City are likely to come away in awe of how designers such as these are employing their creativity to become 21st-century problem-solvers.

This year’s triennial, the fourth in a series that appears every three years at the museum, breaks new ground by going beyond the work of US designers, highlighting 134 projects from 44 countries.

IN PICTURES: Designs from “Why Design Now?” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

The show, which opened May 14, focuses on the way design can help solve pressing world needs.

“I think design is going to be the major tool of this century to help solve many of these problems,” says Cara McCarty, curatorial director at the Cooper-Hewitt and one of four curators who pulled the enormous project together. “Good design can push people’s thinking. This show is tackling issues that go way beyond our borders.”

Organized around eight themes – energy, mobility, community, materials, prosperity, health, communication, and simplicity – “Why Design Now?” gives a passing nod to the innovative design expressed by a few iconic consumer items launched in the last three years – the multitasking iPhone; the Kindle wireless reader; and Twitter, the online social network.

But most of the exhibits will surprise, perhaps startle, and in some cases delight viewers.

“Design is about optimism,” Ms. McCarty says. “Design is finding solutions. This is not a doom-and-gloom show.”

Labels for each work answer why it is in the show – what makes it unique and useful in the world. While most of the objects are in production and available to buy, some are still prototypes. Many express a combination of both beauty and utility – while also embracing the need to be environmentally responsible.

“Today, as designers strive to simplify production processes and consume fewer materials in smaller amounts,” notes the exhibition catalog, “the quest for simplicity is shaping design’s economic and ethical values as well as its sense of beauty.”

For example, when in use, the Power Aware Cord glows a soothing ice blue. But it also reminds the user that whatever device it is attached to is consuming electricity. The Cobi office chair combines elegant design and comfort with the ultimate in reuse: It can be completely recycled.

The bioWAVE Ocean-wave Energy System, a prototype from Australia shown only on video, looks to the motion of the natural world for inspiration. Attached to the seabed, it would rock gently in tune with ocean currents, mimicking swaying sea grass and seaweed. Each unit could produce up to 2 megawatts of power. A field of such machines would become a sizable undersea power plant.

Among other places, the Eco-Machine cleans the wastewater at the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, N.Y., two hours north of New York City. Dr. Todd’s system passes dirty water through naturally occurring enzymes, fungi, bacteria, plants, and animals (insects and fish) in a series of pond and greenhouse settings.

“We go into the local environment and literally bring in hundreds of thousands of forms of life and let them sort themselves out” inside his Eco-Machine, he says. “It’s called ‘seeding.’ ”

Part of the Eco-Machine even grows flowers for display in the centers. Eventually the water returns to the aquifer, “cleaner than water from a conventional wastewater treatment plant”, says Laura Lesniewski, a principal at BNIM, an architectural firm in Kansas City that designed the building. “This whole system doesn’t cost any more than if they replaced it with a traditional septic system.”

Demonstrating a modern twist on an ancient technique, the MIT Masonry Research Group used 720 bricks made from 30 percent raw sewage and postindustrial waste to build a 16-foot-wide undulating arch inside the Cooper-Hewitt. The student team took three days to complete the structure.

The bricks are only 1-1/2 inches thick, yet the arch is so strong that two MIT students have stood atop a similar structure built on the campus.

“We’re trying to show that bricks can do more than make a wall,” Ms. Taub says. “Bricks can span surfaces. They can do that in a very beautiful, innovative way.”

Special computer-designed curves within the arch add to its strength.

“It’s very strong, even though it’s very thin,” she says. It can be built by unskilled laborers who lay the bricks over a simple wooden form.

The design for the Neonurture Car-parts Baby Incubator rested on a simple fact.

“Think of it,” says Mr. Prestero, founder and CEO of Design That Matters in Cambridge, Mass. “There are three things you can buy anywhere in the world: a Coke, cigarettes, and car parts.”

Most medical equipment donated to the developing world breaks or is abandoned for lack of parts within a few years, he says. But major automakers such as Toyota already extend their parts supply lines into the remotest corners of the world.

Incubators are used to keep infants warm for the first 24 hours after birth. “There are 1.8 million infant deaths per year because of hypothermia,” Prestero says. Having a working incubator at a local hospital or clinic could save many lives.

A Toyota truck has about 17,000 parts, he says. His team’s design objective was to “take away all the parts that aren’t an incubator.” The result looks a bit like a street vendor’s cart or baby carriage hiding a car battery for generating heat. At first Prestero thought parents would want something designed to look comfortable and friendly. But instead, he found, they wanted the reassurance of a high-tech look – “NASA, not IKEA.”

Creating a “warm box” for the infant isn’t hard, he concedes. But keeping the design simple can be. “We want to make it easy to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing,” he says. As a result, the incubator has a single knob to control the temperature and requires minimal training to operate.

The Cooper-Hewitt’s four curators spent three years searching for innovative and world-changing designs. A museum website solicited ideas from the public, many of which were included.

The design of the exhibition itself tries to “walk the walk” of sustainability. The furniture, for example, is made from 100 percent postindustrial recycled wood. At every step of the way, efforts were made to reduce waste and choose materials that took little energy to manufacture and ship and were recyclable. It’s all meant to inspire visitors.

“This [exhibition] is about how can we solve the world’s problems together,” McCarty says. “Hopefully people will walk out asking, ‘What can I do? What difference can I make?’ ”

• “National Design Triennial: Why Design Now?” runs through Jan. 9, 2011, and is expected to travel to venues both within the US and abroad.

Source : CSMonitor

How Green Is My iPad?


By DANIEL GOLEMAN and GREGORY NORRIS

With e-readers like Apple’s new iPad and Amazon’s Kindle touting their vast libraries of digital titles, some bookworms are bound to wonder if tomes-on-paper will one day become quaint relics. But the question also arises, which is more environmentally friendly: an e-reader or an old-fashioned book?

To find the answer, we turned to life-cycle assessment, which evaluates the ecological impact of any product, at every stage of its existence, from the first tree cut down for paper to the day that hardcover decomposes in the dump. With this method, we can determine the greenest way to read.

(A note about e-readers: some technical details — for instance, how those special screens are manufactured — are not publicly available and these products vary in their exact composition. We’ve based our estimates on a composite derived from available information. It’s also important to keep in mind that we’re focusing on the e-reader aspect of these devices, not any other functions they may offer.)

One e-reader requires the extraction of 33 pounds of minerals. That includes trace amounts of exotic metals like columbite-tantalite, often mined in war-torn regions of Africa. But it’s mostly sand and gravel to build landfills; they hold all the waste from manufacturing wafer boards for the integrated circuits. An e-reader also requires 79 gallons of water to produce its batteries and printed wiring boards, and in refining metals like the gold used in trace quantities in the circuits.

A book made with recycled paper consumes about two-thirds of a pound of minerals. (Here again, the greatest mineral use is actually gravel, mainly for the roads used to transport materials throughout the supply chain.) And it requires just 2 gallons of water to make the pulp slurry that is then pressed and heat-dried to make paper.

FOSSIL FUELS The e-reader’s manufacture, along a vast supply chain of consumer electronics, is relatively energy-hungry, using 100 kilowatt hours of fossil fuels and resulting in 66 pounds of carbon dioxide. For a single book, which, recycled or not, requires energy to form and dry the sheets, it’s just two kilowatt hours, and 100 times fewer greenhouse gases.

HEALTH The unit for comparison here is a “disability adjusted life-year,” the length of time someone loses to disability because of exposure to, say, toxic material released into the air, water and soil, anywhere along the line. For both the book and the e-reader, the main health impacts come from particulate emissions like nitrogen and sulfur oxides, which travel deep into our lungs, worsening asthma and chronic coughing and increasing the risk of premature death. The adverse health impacts from making one e-reader are estimated to be 70 times greater than those from making a single book.

If you order a book online and have it shipped 500 miles by air, that creates roughly the same pollution and waste as making the book in the first place. Driving five miles to the bookstore and back causes about 10 times the pollution and resource depletion as producing it. You’d need to drive to a store 300 miles away to create the equivalent in toxic impacts on health of making one e-reader — but you might do that and more if you drive to the mall every time you buy a new book.

If you like to read a book in bed at night for an hour or two, the light bulb will use more energy than it takes to charge an e-reader, which has a highly energy-efficient screen. But if you read in daylight, the advantage tips to a book.

If your e-reader ends up being “recycled” illegally so that workers, including children, in developing countries dismantle it by hand, they will be exposed to a range of toxic substances. If it goes through state-of-the-art procedures — for example, high-temperature incineration with the best emissions controls and metals recovery — the “disability adjusted life-year” count will be far less for workers.

If your book ends up in a landfill, its decomposition generates double the global warming emissions and toxic impacts on local water systems as its manufacture

………………………………………………………..

Some of this math is improving. More and more books are being printed with soy-based inks, rather than petroleum-based ones, on paper that is recycled or sourced from well-managed forests and that was produced at pulp mills that don’t use poisons like chlorine to whiten it. The electronics industry, too, is trying to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, and to improve working conditions and worker safety throughout its far-flung supply chains.

So, how many volumes do you need to read on your e-reader to break even?

With respect to fossil fuels, water use and mineral consumption, the impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books; with human health consequences, it’s somewhere in between.

All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.

Source : The New York Times