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Forest cities: a greener future for pollution-plagued China

greener future for pollution plagued China

Stefano Boeri, the renowned Italian architect famous for his tree-clad Bosco Verticale skyscraper complex in Milan, has a new, greener vision for pollution-plagued China. His next project, in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, will consist of two neighbouring towers covered with 23 species of tree and more than 2500 cascading shrubs.

Currently under construction and set for completion next year, this is just the beginning of Boeri’s bold plans for China. His aim is to create ‘forest cities’ – a life-changing transformation for a country that is famous for smog and environmental destruction.

Boeri said, “We have been asked to design an entire city where you don’t only have one tall building but you have 100 or 200 buildings of different sizes, all with trees and plants on the facades. We are working very seriously on designing all the different buildings. I think they will start to build at the end of this year. By 2020 we could imagine having the first forest city in China.”

His Milan-based practice claimed the buildings would suck 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide from Nanjing’s air each year and produce about 60 kg of oxygen every day. “It is positive because the presence of such a large number of plants, trees and shrubs is contributing to the cleaning of the air, contributing to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen. And what is so important is that this large presence of plants is an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.”

“Two towers in a huge urban environment [such as Nanjing] is so, so small a contribution – but it is an example. We hope that this model of green architecture can be repeated and copied and replicated.”

To find out more about the latest in vertical garden technology, click here.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/17/forest-cities-radical-plan-china-air-pollution-stefano-boeri

Ballarat seeks community input on urban forest strategy

Ballarat Centenary Hotel

The City of Ballarat has released a discussion paper highlighting the key priorities and challenges of its urban forest strategy, and is now seeking community input to form part of its final action plan. Adopted in mid 2015, the strategy outlines plans to increase tree canopy coverage across the city from an estimated 17 per cent to 40 percent by 2040.

Mayor Samantha McIntosh said while the urban forest strategy presented council with “a number of issues and challenges”, there were also “some great outcomes” that could be achieved, including economical, mental, physical, and emotional benefits. “Having worked in real estate, I know that property values are absolutely increased in the streets that have those wonderful tree canopies,” Cr McIntosh said. “But it is also about health and wellness, and providing plenty of shade, where people like the elderly will benefit.”

Cr McIntosh believes the 2040 target of 40 per cent canopy coverage is achieveable, pointing out some CBD areas have already achieved 36 per cent coverage. The discussion paper is about prompting the next stage of action, encouraging public response and suggestions.

“We’re not saying we have all the answers,” she said. “Heritage and green space are very important to the people of Ballarat, we want to continue that conversation and ensure the public is involved.”

Read the paper here or discover more about innovative solutions for urban trees here.

Source: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/4544393/call-for-urban-forest-input/

Image credit: The former Centenary Hotel at Ballarat, Australia – by Mattinbgn

Australia’s first elevated indoor forest set to star in new development, Paragon

indoor forest Australia

Renowned landscape designer, Paul Bangay, will partner with developer Beulah International to create Australia’s first elevated indoor forest at a new mixed-use development known as Paragon. Situated at the former Celtic Club site in Melbourne’s CBD, the development will feature 220 luxury apartments starting from $500,000.

The three-storey high urban forest will be a conservatory-like feature, incorporating a selection of mature trees, leafy canopies, climbing gardens, cascading water, and grassy spaces. Residents and visitors will be able to enjoy the forest from a number of outdoor seating zones featuring refined terrazzo pavers.

Paul Bangay said the urban forest was the result of wanting to create green space that wasn’t at street level, but rather up in the air. “The forest we’re creating is not your typical roof space or balcony space; it’s three storeys high which means we’re able to bring in tall trees.”

Beulah International Executive Director, Adelene The, said it was important for residents to feel as though they had a sanctuary where they could escape the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streetscape. “We want residents to feel like they’re not so much in a high-rise building, but rather out in a garden; a sanctuary protected from natural elements.”

To find out more about the latest in vertical garden technology, click here.

Source: https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/eco-chic-australias-first-elevated-indoor-forest-to-descend-on-melbourne/

Image credite: http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/04/20/fajarbaru-to-jointly-pioneer-australias-highrise-indoor-forest/

Adelaide City Council aims to become world’s first carbon neutral city

With the initiation of its Green City Plan, Adelaide has taken another step towards its objective of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral city. The plan consists of two main targets, to be achieved by 2020: add another 1000 trees and 100,000 metres squared of green area around the CBD.

Adelaide City Council Sustainability Advisor Paul Smith said, “The Green City Plan is more about adapting to the impacts of climate change in the city, rather than reducing emissions. We are already seeing climate impacts such as increases in average temperature and extreme heat. If we want to attract more people to live and work here, then we need to have a climate resilient city.”

Council has also established a Green City Grant program, with cash incentives of up to $10,000 for business owners and private homeowners to implement initiatives like living walls, green facades, and vertical and verge gardens. Each project needs to be visible from the street or public place, and enhance the surrounding area.

One of the successful first-round applicants was Jack Greens on James Place, a healthy fast food restaurant. Co-Founder Wade Galea said the grant program would help them build a green wall outside their new store. “Our brand is very much about doing good things for our local communities and keeping things green – all our packaging is biodegradable and we source all our produce from local suppliers. James Place is very much a concrete jungle and we wanted to increase the look of the place with custom designed plants and a pillar outside. The wall would have been too expensive for us by ourselves and we probably wouldn’t have been able to do this if the council wasn’t involved.”

Stay tuned for more urban greening projects as the plan unfolds.

http://indaily.com.au/news/sponsored-content/2017/03/23/green-city-plan-to-speed-carbon-neutrality/

Singapore beats 16 cities with largest green urban area

Singapore green urban area

Known as ‘The City in a Garden’, Singapore has beaten 16 cities around the world in a study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Almost 30% of the Republic’s urban areas are covered by greenery, putting it ahead of Sydney and Vancouver – which tied for second place with 25.9%, followed by California with 23.6%. Of the 17 cities, Paris has the smallest percentage of urban green space at 8.8%.

Researchers use data from Google Street View to measure green canopy and vegetation around the world using computer vision techniques. The data is then processed to obtain the Green View Index (GVI) which is then presented on a scale of 0 to 100.

Professor Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab and head of the project, said, “We present here an index by which to compare cities against one another, encouraging local authorities and communities to take action to protect and promote the green canopy cover.”

This result demonstrates the success of Singapore’s long-term urban forest planning. Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, Group Director, Streetscape, National Parks Board, said, “Our roadside greenery forms the backbone of our City in a Garden. NParks manages about 2 million trees along our streets, in parks and statelands. Trees are selected based on their suitability for various habitats, growth habit, place of origin, tree form and function, aesthetics / landscape value, ease of maintenance, and hardiness, such as drought tolerance. Our roadside trees are an integral part of the pervasive greenery that makes Singapore distinctive and together with our parks, gardens and nature reserves, provide diverse opportunities to appreciate nature up close. This is key to our vision of a City in a Garden which is biophilic as it creates an environment that improves the overall physiological and psychological well-being of all Singaporeans.”

New study shows urban trees save $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs per year

urban trees

Urban trees – is there nothing they can’t do? As well as cleaning the air and guarding against soil erosion, they also help cities reduce costs and emissions by providing shade and blocking strong winds against buildings.

A new study from a group of USDA Forest Service scientists published in ‘Urban Forestry and Urban Greenery’ estimates the US supply of urban trees saves close to $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs (electricity and heating) each year. They also result in a cut to emissions valued at $3.9 billion annually.

The researchers wrote, “There is much literature on tree effects on building energy use, but limited estimates at the national scale. There have been national estimates of energy savings from proposed plantings of millions of trees … but none could be found estimating the effects of the current urban forest.”

The big takeaway is not just to plant more urban trees, but to plant them strategically.

According to the study, “Tree size, species (evergreen vs. deciduous), and tree distance and direction from the building all affect building energy use. While results vary by climate zone, in general, large trees to the west side of the building provide the greatest average reduction in cooling energy savings and large trees to the south side tend to lead to the greatest increase in winter energy use.”

Discover more about innovative urban tree solutions here.

Source: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/new-study-urban-trees-save-energy

Foundation announces landscape architects for Chicago Library grounds

landscape architects for Chicago Library

In exciting news, the Obama Foundation recently announced the team of landscape architects that will design the grounds around the Chicago library and museum in Jackson Park. New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has been appointed as lead designer, with Chicago’s Site Design Group and Living Habitats acting as design partners.

Michael Van Valkenburgh said, “Together with Site Design Group and Living Habitats and, of course, with TWBTA [Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects] and InterActive Design, we are committed to creating an OPC that honors the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and at the same time is accessible, inspirational and joyful.”

Having worked on a number of high-profile projects in Chicago in recent years, the firm is known for creating themed public spaces with whimsical elements – including the Maggie Daley Park, The 606 trial, and a new Streeterville park at the base of the One Bennett Park high-rise.

Stay tuned for the first look at the proposed design of the complex, which is sure to create a stir.

Discover more about innovative urban landscape solutions used by landscape architects here.

Source: http://chicago.curbed.com/2017/1/30/14441364/obama-library-chicago-landscape-architects

Measuring the health of trees with the speed of sound

measuring health of trees

Trees can be deceiving – while they may look healthy from the outside, inside often tells a very different story. Wood rot in living trees causes overestimates of global carbon pools, timber loss in forestry, and poor tree health. Wood decay is of particular concern in the tropics, with tropical forests estimated to harbor, “96% of the world’s tree diversity and about 25% of terrestrial carbon, compared to the roughly 10% of carbon held in temperate forests.”

But how can foresters and researchers see into a living tree to measure wood decay? Surprisingly, with sound. A recently published article in Applications in Plant Sciences details methods using a sound wave technology called sonic tomography, tested on more than 1800 living trees in the Republic of Panama.

Greg Gilbert, lead author of the article and Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said, “We don’t yet know where internal decay and damage rank as a cause of tree mortality. Most of the decay is hidden–the tomography now allows us to see how many apparently healthy trees are actually decayed inside.”

Sonic tomography sends sound waves through tree trunks, with the longer it takes for a sound wave to traverse a trunk indicating more decay in the wood. Based on the velocity of sound, the tomograph makes a color-coded image of a cross section of the trunk.

Sonic tomography can also be used for urban forestry. In fact, Gilbert and his colleagues, together with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute will collaborate with Panama City to use tomography to evaluate the health and associated risks of Panama’s urban trees.

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/bsoa-mtw010517.php

 

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