The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist – POLITICO Magazine

| Erika Larsen for Politico Magazine

Cape Coral may be the best place to gauge the future of the dream—and to see whether Florida has any hope of overcoming its zany developmental, political and environmental history—because Cape Coral is the ultimate microcosm of Florida. It’s literally a peninsula jutting off the peninsula, the least natural, worst-planned, craziest-growing piece of an unnatural, badly planned, crazy-growing state. Man has sculpted it into an almost comically artificial landscape, with a Seven Islands section featuring seven perfectly rectangular islands and an Eight Lakes neighborhood featuring eight perfectly square lakes. And while much of Florida now yo-yos between routine droughts and routine floods, Cape Coral’s fluctuations are particularly wild. This spring, the city faced a water shortage so dire that its fire department feared it couldn’t rely on its hydrants, yet this summer, the city endured a record-breaking flood. And that “50-year rain event” came two weeks before Irma, which was also supposedly a 50-year event.

Source: The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist – POLITICO Magazine

Canadian report recommends nationwide retrofit strategy to cut emissions from large buildings | Proud Green Building

A new report by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) delivers a detailed roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings like office towers, recreation centers, hospitals, arenas and schools across the country. CaGBC’s A Roadmap for Retrofits in Canadademonstrates the critical role existing buildings play in realizing Canada’s low carbon future, according to a release.

The report provides recommendations to retrofit large buildings that will contribute to achieving a reduction in GHG emissions of at least 30 percent (or 12.5 million tons) by 2030, with the potential to reach 51 percent or 21.2 million tons. The roadmap provides government and industry with a targeted plan to yield the greatest carbon savings from buildings and grow Canada’s clean economy.

Source: Canadian report recommends nationwide retrofit strategy to cut emissions from large buildings | Proud Green Building

Trees can make or break city weather — ScienceDaily

 

Even a single urban tree can help moderate wind speeds and keep pedestrians comfortable as they walk down the street, according to a new University of British Columbia study that also found losing a single tree can increase wind pressure on nearby buildings and drive up heating costs.

Ties in with The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (definitely worth reading) where he discusses how trees in a forest create their own micro-climate and provide each other with physical support against wind and storms. But also read where he discusses the plight of urban trees forced to live without the forest community that they evolved for.

Source: Trees can make or break city weather — ScienceDaily

GCR – News – Norwegian team to build world’s first autonomous electric cargo ship

The battery-driven carrier was created by technology group Kongsberg and fertiliser specialist Yara. It will initially be operated as a manned vessel before moving to remote operations in 2019 and performing fully autonomous operations from 2020.

Ship will replace 100 trucks per day – good for economy, good for company, good for environment, bad for drivers being laid off. Need to address the negatives, not just enjoy the positives.

Source: GCR – News – Norwegian team to build world’s first autonomous electric cargo ship

Who Are The True Builders?

You look in your history-books to see who built Westminster Abbey, who built St Sophia at Constantinople, and they tell you Henry Ill, Justinian the Emperor. Did they? Or, rather, men like you and me, handicraftsmen, who have left no names behind them, nothing but their work?

William Morris, “The Lesser Arts” (1878) quoted in “VISTA – the culture and politics of gardens”

Opening day for Detroit’s QLINE M-1 rail – National Resources & Technical Assistance For Transit-Oriented Development

 

The QLINE M-1 light rail line is scheduled to finally open in Detroit this weekend, with a full weekend of festivities to celebrate. The line will permanently connect several major destinations in greater downtown Detroit, and improve access to jobs and services for thousands of residents along the corridor. The project has already catalyzed more than $1 billion in real estate investment along the corridor. All told, the economic impact of transit-oriented development is expected to top $3.5 billion with

Source: Opening day for Detroit’s QLINE M-1 rail – National Resources & Technical Assistance For Transit-Oriented Development

How One of the World’s Densest Cities Has Gone Green

Picture of SuperTrees at Gardens by the Bay

Symbol of Singapore, these “Supertrees” belong to a display at the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay. The high-tech structures range from 80 to 160 feet and collect solar energy to power a nightly light show. They have a softer side too: their trunks are vertical gardens, laced with more than 150,000 living plants.

Source: How One of the World’s Densest Cities Has Gone Green

New York’s L Train Closure Effects on Transit, Mapped – CityLab

A useful tool not just for L-Train Hell but understanding commute times from various locations in the City and hopefully additional cities.

Endless train delays and calcifying surface traffic have lately painted the New York City transit experience a deep shade of red. Soon, commuters will unlock a fresh level of hell when the tunnel housing the L train closes for 18 months to address Hurricane Sandy damage. Starting as early as 2019, the shutdown of the tunnel—and all L train stations west of Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn—will directly impact the 250,000 riders who shuttle between Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan every day.

The map isn’t only great for arguing about whose commute is about to suck the most. You can also debate how travel options compare, for better and for worse, as they presently are. Dropping a single pinpoint onto the map reveals, in shaded color, relative access by train and bus from that location to everywhere else in the city. Bed-Stuy is a transit-friendly place to live, with lots of places easily accessible:

Source: New York’s L Train Closure Effects on Transit, Mapped – CityLab

China smashes solar energy records, as coal use and CO2 emissions fall once again

In one sector after another, the US is falling behind. The US isn’t losing its global leadership, its walking away.

We are witnessing a historic passing of the baton of global leadership on technology and climate from the United States to China. The new U.S. administration has said it will abandon climate action, gut clean energy funding, and embrace coal and oil — the dirty energy sources of the past that experts say can’t create a large number of sustainable new jobs. At the same time, China is slashing coal use and betting heavily on clean energy, which is clearly going to be the biggest new source of permanent hig

Source: China smashes solar energy records, as coal use and CO2 emissions fall once again

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump's infrastructure plan is one big scam

Trump’s plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure is really a scheme to enrich wealthy people…..

There is also the fact that private investors will have no interest in building infrastructure that can’t be turned into a profit center. Privatizing these public projects is a gratuitous hand out to select investors, who would be aquiring public assets for “just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Source: Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

Top Websites – 2016 | Planetizen: The independent resource for people passionate about planning and related fields

The annual list of the best planning, design, and development websites, representing some of the top online resources for news, information, and research on the built environment.

Source: Top Websites – 2016 | Planetizen: The independent resource for people passionate about planning and related fields

Norway to build world’s first floating underwater traffic tunnels | Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

norway-underwater-tunnel-02-889x500

 

An ambitious new plan in Norway would install a series of “submerged floating bridges” to help travelers easily cross the nation’s many fjords. At present, the only way to travel across the bodies…

Source: Norway to build world’s first floating underwater traffic tunnels | Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

The Push to Revitalize Urban Alleys Across the United States Is Fostering Community and Sustainability – CityLab

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For places that were meant to be unseen, alleys take up a not-insubstantial amount of space. A 2011 report by Mary Fialko and Jennifer Hampton, graduate students at the University of Washington*, found that in Seattle, there are 217,000 square feet of public alley space downtown, 85 percent of which are underused. The report estimated that reinvigorating alleyways could increase the number of total public space in the city by 50 percent.Alleys, too, are vital players in a city’s overall ecosystem. As the need for cities to rely on more sustainable approaches has become more pressing, the proliferation of trash and flooding in alleyways has come to be seen not only an aesthetic blight, but an environmental one.And as Daniel Freedman of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative says, there’s a lot of crossover between sound environmental practices and livability. Revitalizing an alleyway creates an opportunity to introduce green infrastructure, but also, Freedman says, it invites the surrounding community to collaborate on improvements and make use of the space.

Source: The Push to Revitalize Urban Alleys Across the United States Is Fostering Community and Sustainability – CityLab

Could intercity cycle highways revolutionise the daily commute? | Cities | The Guardian

Germany is building the world’s biggest ‘bicycle autobahn’ to connect 10 cities and remove 50,000 cars from the road every day. With the popularity of e-bikes growing too, is Europe about to see a new era of long-distance cycle commuting?

Source: Could intercity cycle highways revolutionise the daily commute? | Cities | The Guardian

The Train That Saved Denver

In recent years, Denver has been storming national rankings lists: Brookings Institution demographer William Frey’s best (2011) and second best (2013) city for attracting millennials; the best city for college graduates (2014, Apartments.com); the largest increase in residents with college degrees (U.S. Census, 2014); the best commercial real estate market (Coldwell Banker, 2015); the second best for launching a startup (2014, Forbes); and, this year, U.S. News and World Report’s best place to live.

“We’ve become a top destination for millennials, and FasTracks is a significant part of that,” says Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who championed the expansion of rail transit as Denver’s mayor in the mid ‘aughts.

And it all happened, Hickenlooper and others note, because Coloradans across the base of the Front Range were willing to set aside crippling rivalries and make some big collective investments in themselves.

Source: The Train That Saved Denver

Must-read: Narayana Kocherlakota: “The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt” – Equitable Growth

The world wants U.S. debt and the U.S. needs infrastructure repair. Seems like a natural match unless you’re a Republican or fellow-traveling Democrat.

Must-Read: Narayana Kocherlakota: The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt: “Are government-imposed restrictions holding back the U.S. economy?… …In a way, yes: The federal government is causing great harm by […]

Source: Must-read: Narayana Kocherlakota: “The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt” – Equitable Growth

Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

America’s great public research universities, which produce path-breaking discoveries and train some of the country’s most talented young students, are under siege. The result may be a significant weakening of the nation’s preeminence in higher education. Dramatic cuts in public spending for state flagship universities seem to be at odds with widespread public sentiment. Americans say they strongly believe in exceptional educational systems; they want their kids to attend excellent and selective colleges and to get good, well-paying, prestigious jobs. They also support university research. After 15 years of surveys, Research! America found in 2015 that 70 percent of American adults supported government-sponsored basic scientific research like that produced by public universities, while a significant plurality (44 percent) supported paying higher taxes for medical research designed to cure diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Nonetheless, many state legislators seem to be ignoring public opinion as they essentially starve some of the best universities—those that educate about two-thirds of American college students.

According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ recently completed Lincoln Project report, between 2008 and 2013 states reduced financial support to top public research universities by close to 30 percent. At the same time, these states increased support of prisons by more than 130 percent. New York City’s budget office reported in 2013 that incarcerating a person in a state prison cost the city roughly $168,000 a year. California apparently does it on the cheap: It costs roughly $64,000 annually for each prisoner—a bit more than the cost of a year at an Ivy League university (average tuition is $50,000) and far more than at the University of California, Berkeley, ($13,000) or at CUNY ($8,000).

……….

All this amounts, arguably, to a pillaging of the country’s greatest state universities. And that pillaging is not a matter of necessity, as many elected officials would insist—it’s a matter of choice. If Wisconsin’s governor and legislature succeed in eliminating or emasculating tenure for faculty members at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, they can say goodbye to the greatness of that institution of higher learning. If Florida’s governor asks students in the humanities or arts to pay higher tuition than those who major in business or STEM subjects, Florida’s universities are apt to deteriorate in quality. And just so it doesn’t seem like I’m cherry picking, consider what North Carolina’s governor said not long ago: “If you want to take gender studies, that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.” The consequence of such policy choices, it seems, is that tuition will go up and access for kids from poorer families will go down.

………

Source: Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic