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Resilient Design: Not as mainstream as we’d like

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014

As part of its monthly tracking how the architectural firms are faring, in its latest survey the American Institute of Architects queried members about their resilient design practices. Since “resilient design” is a concept that’s not yet the kind of household word that “sustainability” has become, we’re encouraged at the number of architecture shops that report having done projects that involved resilient design (about a quarter of them) — but at the same time, the numbers indicate that resilient design has a ways to go before it is a mainstream...

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The old way: build a wall. The new way: work with nature.

Posted by on Feb 27, 2013

A nice illustration of the difference between old and new approaches to resilient design: In flood-prone Holland, the old approach was just: build a wall. The new approach is: work with nature, not against it, where you can. For centuries dikes (and natural dunes where they exist) have provided the primary defense against the North Sea for low-lying areas in the Netherlands. And while the Dutch continue to maintain, extend and elevate their system of dikes, they are also “increasingly relying on techniques that mimic natural systems and harness nature’s power to hold back the...

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Brattleboro event: Lessons from Germany’s Energy Transition

Posted by on Feb 4, 2013

In 2000 Germany set a goal of achieving 20 percent renewable electricity production by 2020. At that time they were at 3 percent. Now, just 12 years later, they are already at 25 percent. How is Germany transitioning to a renewable energy economy so quickly? Long-time renewable energy advocate Bob Walker and Vermont State Representative Margaret Cheney will report on what they learned from their recent renewable energy tour of Germany as guests of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The trip was designed for American policymakers and advocates who are advancing renewable energy across the U.S....

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Re-imagining Manhattan

Posted by on Jan 28, 2013

You might have missed this in your holiday busy-ness, as we did: In December, Atlantic Cities reported on a project by a team of architect and planners from the University of Michigan to rethink Manhattan in the light of the clear danger of damage from future versions of Hurricane Sandy: From the edges to the center of the island, the Michigan team’s concept plan alternates marshes, tidal defense berms, floating neighborhoods, hydroponic farms and new parks to protect against flooding. It also retrofits flood plains with a new datum above the water line for service, emergency and power...

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Artificial reefs for tsunami protection

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013

In Sumatra, new methods are under development to protect cities from tsunamis: “It uses the concept of cathode accretion–putting a small electrical charge in the water that draws calcium carbonate (the stuff reefs are made of) out of solution and onto an iron-based skeleton. The calcium slowly accumulates, creating an artificial reef and wave barrier.” And down the road, the same method may be used to create community hubs as places of refuge from tsunami waters.  

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