EcoBridge Design Profile
Another fine design example from Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill (see their “energy-positive” design here). This circle in the lake serves two purposes: to create an area of calm water, known as breakwater, that can be enjoyed by tourists and enthusiasts, adding aesthetic value to the city. Additionally, the ring supports wind turbines that generate power for the city using the particular weather there to the city’s advantage. All the while providing a place to stroll out for a great lake-front view. This is a nice application of a city coming together to think on an integrated level about space usage. With proper focus, making a change in even one area of the green spectrum can be amazingly far-reaching.
Wow! That’s all I can think when viewing pictures of the first building planned to grace zero waste, zero carbon emission Masdar City, in the United Arab Emirates. It’s beautiful! And, most importantly, its enormous solar roof will generate more energy than the building uses… enough to power the construction of the rest of the building! The building is designed by Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill (AS + GG). Click the link above for more details.
Large-scale projects like this are what it’s going to take to get solar design into the mainstream of architecture.
Never heard of xeriscaping? Neither have most people. But it’s a relatively easy way to reduce your planetary footprint. Basically, xeriscaping entails ripping out your water-thirsty lawn or bedding plants and replacing them with drought-friendly plants and mulch. It’s a small initial investment for the plants and mulch, but for what you save over time in watering and gas mowing your lawn, you’ll recoup very quickly. If you live in Las Vegas, you can even get a tax rebate for ripping out the lawn and replacing it with gravel and drought-tolerant plantings.
Taken from www.xeriscape.org:
“Why Xeriscape? For most of the western United States over fifty percent of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 60% or more.
Efficient water use doesn’t mean changing our lifestyle. It means reducing water waste, such as improper irrigation, and finding ways to achieve attractive, comfortable landscapes without excess water use.
Your landscape is an investment in your comfort and in the value of your property. A good Xeriscape will increase your property value by as much as 15%. Xeriscape can also reduce water and maintenance costs by up to 60%.”
Not only do xeriscaped lawns help the environment at large, they also look great, increasing the value of YOUR environment. Nosy neighbors with green lawns might object at fist, but after a season or two of growth, your yard may just become a neighborhood “park”, full of birds, butterflies, and wonderful herbal scents. Now that’s aromatherapy!
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Here’s a new concept: fake soil! This Japanese company has developed a plastic soil that is lighter than traditional dirt. This will make load-design for living roofs that much easier for architects, especially in earthquake-prone areas like California. It might be useful for cantilevering gardens onto apartment terraces, too, for all you renters out there. I’d be interested to see how the nutrient content of this “soil” compares with regular, how much water it requires, and how it might affect grown plants nutritionally. Would you eat a carrot grown in urethane? Hmmm. And what are the carbon costs of producing this? Can’t wait for a user review!