Passive Design Solutions


April 4th, 2013 – Seminar 10

Group Members:
Kent Mundle, Dale Wiebe, Caitlin Brock, Kalika Hoogstraten, Chelsea Alecci, Neda Uddin, Tyler Yakichuk, Leanza Barra, Jessica Martin, Andy Steingrimsdottir

Reading:
‘Building a Green Home.” Pg 147-202

Summary:
The article talks about how we disregard our homes as a “machines for living” as Le Corbusier has suggested, and instead focus on individual components to ease our lifestyles. This in turn has created negative outcomes, causing buildings to account for 50% of total energy consumption in the United States and produces more greenhouse gas emissions then vehicles. The solution is to begin to turn to passive design alternatives, using natural resources such as the sun and wind to create net-zero structures.
It begins to discuss how to incorporate passive systems as components, just as we typically treat our homes. Systems that can be integrated include trees for natural shading techniques as well as insulation and protection from UV exposure, orientation of the home along with open concept windows to adhere to natural ventilation, insulation to capture sunlight and heat as well as thermal mass to use exposed surfaces to absorb the heat in daytime and radiate it back at night time or during low temperatures, and green roofs that absorb rainwater and provide extra space for planting edible and native vegetation.
The article then focuses on passive techniques not as components but how it can be integrated to the home as an entirety. Strategies include pre-fabricated homes for better efficiency, smart home technology used to monitor and reduce the environmental impact it creates (like shutting off electronics when not in use, remote windows to allow natural radiant heat as well as ventilation and so on), creating green homes with the longevity to last through conditions that typical homes are designed to, and higher density of the home so that its not occupying as much land/ space while still maintaining functionality for the inhabitants.

Reading:
Ip, Kennethm and Andrew Miller. “Thermal Behaviour of an Earth-Sheltered Autonomous Building – The Brighton Earthship.” Elsevier Ltd: 2009.
www.elsevier.com/locate/renene

Summary:
The article focuses on Earthships, an earth sheltered construction alternative to typical heavy weight construction. The concept behind these structures operate on a self-sufficient basis composed largely out of recycled and reclaimed materials. The goal of theses structures is to achieve net-zero production, which does not cost more in the long run. As these structure are prone to climate conditions. it uses a concept known as thermal store, a horizontal distribution that is used to properly adjust thermal temperatures during the summer and winter conditions and mitigate emissions as a result. These earthships contradict typical homes through construction materials and processes as they do not include any kind of foundation, use load-bearing construction for the walls with the integration of recycled materials, and usually plastic or metal roofing.

Proposed Discussion:

Would you ever live in one of these homes (earthships)? Why or why not?

If you were to live in one, would you want it in an urban or rural environment?

If you were to commission a passive house such as this, would you choose:
1). A Prefabricated passive house?
2). Site specific passive house?

Some of the more popular design strategies include: passive heating/ cooling, solar energy, efficient spatial planning, lighting, rain, water harvesting, envelope sealing, and or vegetation.
Which one of these passive house designs would work best/ least in Winnipeg?

Could Passive House development work at all in Winnipeg?

After a term of learning about Ecology and Design, have you had any changes in your stance on design or how you envision yourself designing in the future?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I think these types of homes are innovative and clever but I personally would never live in one. Based on the examples that this seminar has shown us, they seem more of shelter or a hut then a home itself. With that being said, as a designer I plan on doing a lot of my work at home and obviously need specific conditions to do so. As these types of homes are dictated by surrounding weather and climate conditions I think they could work as a structure to reside and sleep in but not much else to be honest.
If I was to live in one, I think I would want it to be rural solely because it really has no place in the urban fabric. I think that there is an association with these kinds of homes to be in open, vegetated space, not surrounded by highrise buildings, concrete and noise. Especially because of the fact that these structure are dictated by weather and its surroundings and are open concept to allow passive designs, if it were to be placed in urban setting I think it would defeat the purpose of what the homes is trying to achieve as they would be noisy to live in and in-efficient.
As Todd had mentioned in class, If you are to live in a earthship it has to be site specific. The concept relies on surrounding conditions and its level of efficiency is dictated on it so no matter what you must pertain to a site specific design. Whether you want it to be pre-fabricated or not is up to you but personally I don’t would never want that kind of home in the first place so if I was to have one mine as well go the extra step and make it pre-fab. Going to be miserable regardless.
I think because Winnipeg has such unpredictable weather patterns, envelope sealing and insulation would be pretty much the only option for passive design strategies. As mentioned, passive design strategies are dependent on climate and weathering conditions. Winnipeg’s is insane. So it would need an innovative envelope sealing strategies to protect you from hot and cold conditions otherwise your living in a giant refrigerator freezer. With this being said, I don’t think passive house development should be integrated into Winnipeg.

In summary of the class, I feel that its completely necessary to incorporate some strategies in all designs to decrease global warming and achieve sustainability. To the level or degree that we should dictate a building towards sustainability I don’t really know.
One interesting notion that Matt had brought up when he answered this question is that it made him not excited to be part of the design community based on the assumption that every designer is educated and aware of our present condition, yet they continue to ignore the idea of incorporating sustainable solutions within their designs. To me, in order to define architecture it has come to point that sustainability must one of the terms that is used when describing it. So I have to say, I agree with Matt in the sense that I don’t agree with how designer continue to approach architecture, but at the same time it leaves it open to us to establish innovative concepts and ideas to better the world.

Photo 1:
Summer Climate Earthship
Rong. Earthship Visitor Ceter. Photograph. Flickr. September 1st, 2008.

Photo 2:
Winter Climate Earthship
damonthomaskiley. earthship. photograph. flickr. December 20th, 2007.

Sustainable Energy


April 4th, 2013 – Seminar 9

Group Members:
Alicia Zayshley, Todd Willick, Ivan Kats, Ian Cheung, Taylor Gould, Sam MacRae, Derek Wasylyshen, Krystyl Bergen, Matt Rajfur, Chad Rempel

Reading:
Bry. Sarte. “Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design.” John Wiley & Sons: New York, 2010, pg 166-176.

Summary:
The article looks at the different applications of energy and how it essentially exists all around us in various ways. More specifically, the article discusses how our current energy paradigm is damaging our environment, as we are unsustainable at every level in the process of extracting, refining, shipping and distributing it. Our paradigm is fragile and inefficient because we use large centralized power systems that lead to overconsumption and distribution losses. For example, more then two thirds of the fuel energy used to generate electricity is lost before it even gets to our homes. Over 90% of energy that is extracted from the ground as coal is wasted before it can actually be put to use. A light bulb (incandescent) loses 90 percent of its energy as heat, and uses only 10% to produce the light that it is intended for.
The proposed solution for this growing issue is simply design. Our current framework calls for unnecessary amounts of consuming un-used produced energy. Therefore we must redesign to consume less energy in buildings by implicating theories and concepts of passive design strategies to use natural alternatives through orientation, sealing and insulation, building design, thermal mass, radiant barriers, reflective surfaces, and incorporate vegetation strategies.

Reading:
Abbasi, Taneem. “Is the Use of Renewable Energy Sources an Answer to the Problems of Global Warming and Pollution?” Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 2012, Vol.42(2), pg 99-154.

Summary:
The article summarizes the need for renewable energy resources and looks at the ones we are currently incorporating to adhere to climate change. Wind, solar, and hydro energy alternatives have become the most popular technology alternatives, and as a result are reeking high profit for their popular demand. However, as these alternatives have achieved popularity, the question is do these energy resources actually benefit our environment without any backlashes/ impacts?
The article focuses on solar energy alternatives and how they require a large amount of manufactured materials to obtain acquired solar energy such as specialty steel, glass and cement (having large embodied energy). In addition, they are required large tracts of land to locate collectors that must receive high solar radiation fluxes. With this being said they are often situated on open agricultural land or large portions of forest that are cut down to adhere to the solar radiation that it must receive. They also require a continuous large amount of water for cooling purposes and have direct impacts on surrounding soil, water, and air qualities that release toxins into all of them (herbicides to reduce growth around panels). They have detrimental impacts to humans along with the ecosystems that surround them being hazardous to eyesight due to high reflective surfaces, soil erosion and compaction, wind diversion, decrease in evaporation rates from soil, as well as transmission problems associated with direct current electricity.

Proposed Discussion:

What are some forms of Renewable Energy?

Do you think it is more about the type of energy or the way we are using the energy?

Changes to reduce energy intake aren’t going to happen instantaneously. Society isn’t going to change at a flip of a switch. We as individuals need to start with the things we can control. With this being said, what can we do as individuals to reduce you energy intake?

Based on the individual changes, how do you think this will affect the corporation in terms of producers and gatherers? How will this affect society?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
Some common forms of renewable energy include solar, hydro, and wind. There are also passive energy alternatives in which all energy systems can be classified as either passive or active.
I think with regards to the second question, its not about one way or the other but both are of equal importance. Type of energy and the way we are using it needs to be strategic in terms of context. Like one of the articles had suggested, solar energy requires a large amount of open land and high radiant exposure. Wind energy resources obviously need to be exposed to strong wind patterns to generate its energy. Therefore, instead of trying to incorporate various systems in given locations solely because we have proof that these systems have worked here or there, would it not make more sense to use appropriate alternatives in specific locations where they will generate higher efficiency with regards to production. For example, a desert- like context would be better suited for solar energy alternative while land closer to coastal regions receiving stronger wind patterns would make more sense for wind turbines. Moving on from context.
With regards to what we as individuals can do, I think it comes down to education and role-modeling for others. People are very selfish and do what they need to do to get by for their own sakes, not for societies. Therefore, they must be educated on a more personal level as to not only how they can reduce their consumption, but in turn become more efficient and save costs as a result. In addition, the education has to start at a young age, earlier then levels of high school when we were barely even exposed to it. I feel like the younger that someone is exposed to a particular situation, the greater of priority it becomes. What I mean by this is if children learn about global climate change at a very young age, and are continuously re-introduced to it over years to come they will make the connection that it is of significant importance. If they are introduced to it at a latter stage in their life, they will feel that its something new and will not pertain to them in their lifetime and they can simply pass it on to the next generations to deal with. However, even if children learn about alternatives, it must be reinforced from their personal role models, being their parents. Children will learn from their superiors and if they do not reinforce simple strategies, the children will not follow suit.
This follows up as to what we can do to begin to make a difference. Simple strategies such as walking or busing, turning off the lights when we leave the room, and unplugging tv’s, monitors, and chargers from the wall as they use just as much energy when left in the walls as when they are actually charging your phones. Theres basic and simple strategies such as these that create a substantial difference, it just comes down to initiative and adjustment. Do it enough times and it becomes routine, and benefits everyone as a result.
To answer the final question, building use approximately 40% of the worlds produced energy. Companies such as MTS have taken particular initiatives to dedicate given days to turning off all power sources when not in use and found that their energy bills at the end of the month decreased substantially because of one day that they adhered to the initiative. It becomes a case of making it popular for corporations to use less energy that they will actually take the initiative to do so. Even if tits just one day of the month, I believe that this is the start for corporations to see the benefits, and do it more often as a result.

Stressors, Uncertainties, Future Needs


March 28th, 2013 – Seminar 8

Group Members:
Corey Doucette, Devon Meyer, Katlyn Bailey, Heber Garcia, Marco Garcia, Alyssa Anderson, Branton Leskiw, Daniel Ip, Kurt Anos, Neilly Coulter

Reading:
Forman, Richard T.T., and Lauren E. Alexander. “Roads and Their Ecological Effects.” Annual Reviews: 1998, Vol 29:207-31

Summary:
This article analyzes the ecological effects that roadways create in multiple different ways within the natural environment. One of the biggest issues that roadway pose is the mortality rate of given species due to road kill. In addition, roadways act as barriers that subdivide populations and species with demographic and genetic consequences. Some of these consequences include hydrologic and erosion effects, as well as peak-flow and sediment impacts.
The article begins to depict particular ways that roadways affect its surroundings. For example, because of roadways, some animal species will never move significant distances along roadsides creating a barrier, which in turn create major local impacts such as communal population. Strategies to perforate roads have been taken into consideration but would result in higher amount of road kills. With this being said, vehicles from roadways are one of the biggest contributors to mortality rates of nearby species, but have a minimal effect on overall population size. Further, water, sediment, chemicals and streams were analyzed in terms of how roads effect them. Chemical impacts tend to be localized near roadways but are greatly reduced (along with toxic solids and metal concentrations) when there is drainage runoff. All in all science and society is challenged to discover reasonable solutions.

Reading:
Forman, Richard T.T., and Daniel Sperling. “The Future of Roads: No Driving, No Emissions, Nature Reconnected.” 2011, Volume 2: Issue 5: Pg 10-23
www.thesolutionsjournal.com

Summary:
The article discusses alternative road solution in which we have commonly come to think that the concept is generation ahead of us. The notion pertains to lowering or heightening roadway, creating tunnels or balconies in a sense for systems of transportation. Studies have shown that by having roadways as separate systems not directly neighboring ecological systems will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve safety, efficiency, and mobility for people and goods, and a benefit for food production and recreation near towns and cities. Our current condition of roadways creates numerous problems that ultimately dampers surrounding ecological systems such as habitat loss, roadkill, wildlife barriers, fragmented habitats, traffic noise, degraded roadside, erosion, sedimentation, ditch water and ground water, altered wetlands, and dispersed land use. Some proposed solutions involve netway systems with automated transportation through elevation or submergence to converge heavy imprint road systems into light imprint transportation, personal pods, public pods, and pod buses with pod service centers, and the use of solar panels and wind turbines to maximize natural processes.

Proposed Discussion:

What are some of the flaws of this proposed netway? Could there be possible restrictions?

Do you think the problems cause by roads will ever get so severe that a drastic change such as the netway system will need to be implemented?

Is there a more realistic and practical solution to our road problem?

What suggestions do you have for reconnecting the land to nature?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I think that the roadway proposition creating them at different levels is actually quiet smart with regards to the downfalls that it creates when it directly runs through or neighbors various ecological systems. I think from natures perspective, it’s a great solution, from our perspective, its not. The costs that it would take to remove pre-existing roadways and build them either above or below ground level would be ridiculous and uncomforting for a lot of people (based on fear of heights and claustrophobia). Not to mention, it’s a huge inconvenience to replace existing roadways (what already takes up approximately 1.5% of the area in the U.S according to the article) when that money and time can go towards new innovative systems or dilemmas need the attention. In terms of restrictions, I think that there can be various issues and problems with having roadways either elevated or submerged in various ways. Safety would be a huge issue for elevation, due to a miscalculation in load distribution, earth quakes, and simple structural failure, failure in an elevated roadways would essentially magnify probability of roadway accidents and possibly become more detrimental as a result. If it were to be submerged, there is a probability of collapse and these tunnels could be caved in. Detours would essentially be none existent and efficiency along with functionality would therefore go out the window. In addition, the article discusses how chemicals and toxins pollute nearby ecological systems when roadways neighbor them. Who’s to say that this would not magnify this problem when we are integrating roadways directly into the land/ soil.
I think that roadways are mandatory for our functionality so they are of high priority. With that being said, because they are so important, I think that no matter how sever the damages are that result from them, we will look in other ways other then transforming roadways into netways to solve the issue. Since we are so vehicle dependent, I don’t think that it’s a component of our urban system that we are willing to gamble/ experiment with.
There probably is a better and more practical solution, I just have no idea what it would be. A suggestion that was made in class was natural grass bridges so that animals may cross over roadways without being stricken by vehicles. However, as a rebuttal, a classmate had mentioned that there was a study that proved predators will actually wait at the ends of these bridges, making certain animals easy targets and essentially disrupting the natural way of life. I think that of all the problems that we face with disturbing ecological order and climate change, roadways will be one of our last things that we deal with because they exist everywhere and are so important to our operation.

Photo 1:
Roadways occupy a large amount of land, causing damage upon our natural habitats.
DouglasSouthFlorida. Roadway to (Almost) nowhere. Photograph. Flickr. Jan 1st, 2008.

Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss

March 21st, 2013 – Seminar 7

Group Members:
Caila Svenson, Caroline Grimes, Jane Hilder, Jesse Ghashti, Jessica Suter, Julieta Cohen, Marla Bigelow, Nichelle Facey

Reading:
Grimm, Nancy, Stanley Faeth, Nancy Golubieweski, Charles Redman, Jianguo Wu, Xuemei Bai, and John Briggs. “Global Change and the Ecology of Cities.”AAAS: New York, 2008, Science 319.

Summary:
The article focuses on the shifts and changes that occur when Urbanization occurs. It essentially changes the entire landscape and alters environmental balances in multiple ways. There is always a demand for materials as urbanization consumes large amounts of resources. In turn it modifies land use and cover, biodiversity, the hydrosystems locally to the region, and creates a large amount of urban waste, all of which effects the environmental region and in turn climate change.
Currently studies focus on the natural and social drivers that persuade these changes but ultimately it comes down to the cities themselves that are responsible for the damage and the solutions to these growing issues.

Reading:
McDonald, Robert, Pamela Green, Deborah Balk, Balazs Fekete, Carmen Revenga, Megan Todd, and Mark Montgomery. “Urban Growth, climate change, and freshwater availability.” PNAS: New York, 2011 Vol.108, No.15.

Summary:
The article focuses on current issues that deal with water shortage and how they are to be magnified in the future with urban growth being the catalyst to the problem. Urban population has a direct correlation with climate change, and further, the availability of freshwater to the individual. Its projected that by 2050, there will be an additional 3 billion urban residence which will only speed up climate change, and diminish the availability of freshwater. As urban growth grows the fastest and the largest out of the three variables, the other two are effected at the same rate. As a result, 1 billion people will have less then 100L of water per person per day of sustainable surface and groundwater available to them within their urban context. Climate change will increase this amount to an additional 100 million. Freshwater ecosystems close to urbanization will experience insufficient water supplies that are necessary for maintaining and preserving ecological process. In turn, the lack of freshwater will come to effect the residence directly as there will simply not be enough and as seen in Western Ghats, it effects their food supply as they are already experiencing a shortage in fishing production.

Proposed Discussion:

Do you think if urban centers were dispersed across land, the impact we have upon the earth would be reduced?

Which factor is expected to have a more certain effect on water shortage:

urban growth or climate change?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I think if urban centers were dispersed across the land, that only adheres to our over-arching problem. The fact that urban situation continue to expand as opposed to grow in density is a major reason why we are substituting agricultural land for concrete. This in turn supports the notion of climate change and an increase in pollutants. I don’t think that by dispersing urban center is an option that should even be considered.
Approaching the second question, I think that urban growth is the catalyst for water shortage. Urban growth essentially establishes climate change and with that being said, I think it’s the key reason why water supplies will diminish. With that being said, climate change is a resultant of urban growth, and as urban growth may deplete water supplies, climate change will do.

Photo 1:
Our Water Supplies will continue to diminish if we continue down our current path.
Earthworks Action. DSC_0145. Photograph. Fickr. March 21st, 2011.

Materials/ Construction


March 14, 2013 – Seminar 6

Group Members:
Matt Hagen, Carson Wiebe, Jon Manique, Kevin Celestino, Ryan Lewis, Kyla Crawford, Fernanda Ribeiro de Andrade, Evan Taylor.

Reading:
Mau, Bruce. “Massive Change.” Phaidon, 2004.

Summary:
The article discussed and focus’ on super materials which can be defined as super light, hard, small, and smart materials. These materials are focused on the concepts of bio mimicry and how they can be applied in various ways to architecture without intervening or harming the animals themselves. For instance, rhino’s use their horns to dig and spear, and often crack as a result. As the horn has no living cells, it repairs on its own even though its composed of micro-fiber hairs. This concept of hardness, self-healing, and regeneration is being looked at in ways of how it can be applied to materials and architecture. In addition, Spider silk is analyzed as an alternative to various strings as its stronger when woven with five other types of spider silk. Lastly, a new type of electronic skin that is capable of perceiving/ feeling particular sensations is being introduced through ways of electronic current.

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
Pertaining not solely to the article, but also what was presented in class, I believe that biomimicry is definitely a viable solution. I have particular interest in what was shown in class, being the material that was made by NASA as well as the genetic combination between spiders and goats. Scientists had strategically placed spider genes in goats so that their milk produced string/ fiber that were stronger then typical string. Although there might be moral issues in the process, the notion was proven not to harm the goats themselves or create any genetic defect. I think that animals and plants alike all have their pros and cons and the notion of cross-connecting particular gentic characteristics is what must be done. To find the proper combinations and distinguish where they are best suited in terms of application will give us the outcome we want. Obviously, it comes down to a time, money and technology, but none the less I believe it to be the right direction.

Reading:
Sarki, J, S.B. Hassan, V.S. Aigbodiion, J.E. Oghenevweta. “Potentials of using coconut shell particle fillers in eco-composite materials.” Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 2011, Vol.509(5), pp. 2381-2385.

Summary:
The article looks at the application of coconut shell particles and its composites to microstructures and the benefits and effects that take place when incorporating them into eco-buildings. Eco-composites, such as coconuts, are made from natural materials that are non-toxic and biodegradable. They offer reduced dependence on non-renewable energy/ material sources, lower pollution, and green house gas emissions. They propose an environmentally safe and to a degree, just as strong reinforcement in comparison to typical materials such as glass and carbon.
Coconut shell particle fillers were mixed with epoxy resin and hardener, and applied to eco-composite materials for analysis. The general conclusion showed an increase in tensile strength and hardness but lost impact strength. The application has clearly shown improvements but also deficiencies as well, iterating the notion that the concept is a good start but needs to be developed further to reach a viable alternative/ solution.

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I think that this is an awesome and smart approach/ alternative to start with when creating more sustainable solutions. To use this concept not entirely as a substitution but an application solves one of the biggest catalysts of greenhouse gas emissions, being carbon footprint. It essentially is using natural alternative from ones that are produced in factories and has been proven to have potentials in strengthening certain characteristics as a result. Obviously the article solely focuses on the application of coconuts as they are renown for their strength. With this being said, I think that this is the right direction as we have just started to scratch the surface. Comparing this to concept and ideas of the first article, the notion of using 6 different types of spider fiber has proven to be stronger then factory produced string. The same concept can possibly be applied to particle fillers, not solely applying components of coconut but in combination with other particles can reach higher potentials and greater results.

Photo 1:
Coconut Components – Studied for Material Substitution
SingChan. Coconut Halved). Photograph. Flickr. February 27th, 2009.

Photo 2:
Rhino Horn – Studied for its Regenerative Qualities
Logan R. Horn. Photograph. Flickr. September 28th, 2008.

Sustainable Resources and Water Management


March 7th, 2013 – Seminar 5

Group Members:
Desiree Rantala, Ashley James, Rob Freeman, Tanya Kapelus, Wei Zou, Bhumjun Cho, Emily Bews, Samantha Garret, Milan Code

Reading:
Harmon, Rob. “How the Market Can Keep Streams Flowing.” Ted Talks, November 2010.
http://www.ted.com/talks/rob_harmon_how_the_market_can_keep_streams_flowing.html

Summary:
This particular video lecture is given at a Ted talks seminar by Rob Harmon in which he discusses the issues and catalysts that impose the disintegration and drying up of various bodies of water. One particular catalyst that he discusses is senior water rights, in which holders are required to use a certain amount of water otherwise they lose that right all together. This in turn obviously has negative and unnecessary implication upon our bodies of water, forcing holders use it when they don’t need to and in turn, diminishing water sources altogether.
As this has become a realization, companies are pursuing strategies to limit their water footprint. For example, at the Prickly Pear Creek, the water right holders are paid to leave their water in bodies while still managing to maintain their rights. This in turn reduces the negative repercussion and maintains a reasonable and effective strategy in pursuing a better footprint as a result.

Reading :
Liau, Kuei-Hsien. “A Theory on Urban Resilience to Floods – A Basis for Alternating Planning Practices.” Ecology and Society 17 (4): 48

Summary:
The article analyzes resistant and resilient measures that are taken when approaching flood issues. Typically, a city is designed with resistance strategies using series of levees, dams, channelization etc. Although they are common, the article discusses how these strategies are harmful to surrounding areas and effects the socio-economics of the urban situation in a negative way. As an alternative, the article directs the attention towards resilient strategies, which is argued as a better approach for long term flood management because its more specific to that environment and its conditions. As the article suggests “the development of the theory of urban resilience floods is an attempt to enrich the existing body of resilience theory through focusing on a specific type of system with a specific problem.” The strategy begins with better practice and innovations with building typologies such as waterproofing, stilting, and floating structures. The article then takes a more in depth analysis on two specific types of resilient approaches, being engineering resilience, and ecological resilience. Engineered resilience refers to a structures ability to “bounce back” (repair itself) over time to its original condition after being exposed to strenuous conditions (flooding). Ecological engineering is the more preferred method, and refers to the level of change that a system can undergo and its ability to survive and adapt without needing a complete renovation of the regime.
In summary the discussion is how to catalyze the transformation from resistant to resilient. Disasters catalyze social transformation whether we like it or not, so the focus must focus on resilient strategies, as transforming by choice becomes much cheaper and socio-economically smarter.

Proposed Discussion:

What is a reliable source to long-term flood safety?
(There was a large amount of questions asked and proposed so I have selected the one I feel strongest about).

What city sets a good example for flood adaptation?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
As discussed in the article, I think that resilient approaches are the way to go when considering long term flood safety. Just as the article discusses but in a complete different fashion, it compares resilience to sustainability. Although the comparison in the article is based on the fact that their definitions are loose and undefined, I see both terms connected in the sense that they are both directly correlated with climate change and further, disasters. The way we have come to fabricate our urban situation is only promoting climate change and at a larger scale, so even if we were to design with resistance, the degree of ‘aggression’ of these disastrous situations will continually become stronger and overcome our ‘constructed barriers” that are designed to resist against previous disasters.
For example, we can look here in Winnipeg in which we have taken resistant measures to address annual seasonal flooding. This system is the floodway, in which we continually are expanding it yet agricultural land is still continually subjected to the repercussions of floods. The strategy may dilute the extensity of damage from the flood, but none the less there still is damage and the cost and time it takes to repair keeps getting higher and higher. With this being said and following up on the second question, Winnipeg is not a good example.  Bangkok I believe is to be a good example even though many may think otherwise. The reason I say this is not based on the technology that they have introduced but the strategies they have implicated with the economic situation that their in. Bangkok is subjected to large scale floods and have taken low cost measures to propel both resistance and resilience to protect their urban fabric. They have created T-groins to break the impact of waves on their land and reduce damage, expanded and walled the river that runs right through the center of Bangkok to divert their floods to that body of water and have begun to construct their homes and structures on stilts. Obviously they are not a rich country, but they have taken careful considerations and measures in using resources that make most sense to their condition and economy. This in turn comes back to the article when it suggests that strongest strategies are ones that are specific.

Land Use and Biodiversity

February 28th, 2013 – Seminar 4

Group Members:
Emeil Alvarez, Lukas Timmerman, Alanna Perron, Bethany Strecker, Kristen Mowat, Genevieve Mead, Kate Soltys, Allister Johnson, and Cedric Watat

Reading:
Del Tredici, Peter. “Spontaneous Urban Vegetation: Reflections of Change in Globalized World.” Nature & Culture 5, No. 3 (November 20120): pg 299-315 Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost.

Summary:
This article looks at various approaches to manage spontaneous urban vegetation as an alternative to restoring historical ecosystems that flourished before the urban fabric existed. The city is naturally consumed with high levels of disturbance, impervious surfaces, and heat retention, which have directly affected soil, water and air conditions. In turn, these conditions actually promote  “stress tolerant successional vegetation on abandoned or unmaintained land.” The notion is that these plants succeed in our current climate and urban conditions without modification, so instead of looking to the past as to how vegetation has succeeded, prime examples stand before us in the modern age that can direct us in a more sustainable solution.
Specifically, the article distinguishes three categories of vegetated urban land. These being remnant native landscapes, managed horticultural landscapes, and abandoned ruderal landscapes. Each one of these categories differentiates from one another based on their past land use history, types of vegetation, soil characteristics and the level of required maintenance. As the article distinguishes the differences, it begins to inform us as to how plants can be adapted into citys environmental conditions. In summary, the task is not how we eliminate the vegetation but how to manage them “to increase their ecological, social, and aesthetic values.”

Proposed Discussion:

Is it better for nature to be left to itself, or should we intervene when it begins to take over?

Why are our views towards certain plants negative, and how can we change these views so that native species can grow where they are intended to?

Should all vacant areas that vegetation has taken over be turned into parks or should they be left alone to let biodiversity take over?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I think the first question is rather broad because there is no mention of scale. I believe it comes down to the degree of how badly nature takes over that dictates our steps towards necessary intervention. For example, if nature is consuming our development in a way that impedes our functionality then it absolutely should be intervened. In contrast, if nature develops out of the way and comes down to simply an aesthetic preference, then absolutely not. This in turn proceeds into the second question in terms of why our views towards certain plants are how they are. I think that comes down to aesthetics which proceeds into social standards and preferences. Certain plants are consumed with vibrant colours and soft textures that we have come to see as visually stimulating and “fitting” into our industrial and personal environments. They have come to become a delicacy in a sense that we have to go the extra mile to obtain them (purchase) In turn, vegetation of harsher, darker colours and textures are seen as a nuisance and must be removed a result (even though they grow free of cost). One of my profs from last year in University personally loved weeds because of the fact that they are constantly removed. We have ironically made weeds become a delicacy solely because we constantly remove them. They are not socially acceptable and become first priority when maintaining and preserving personal gardens and spaces. As a result they have come to achieve a degree of rarity even though they grow sporadically and constantly.
I don’t believe all vacant lots that have been taken over by vegetation should solely be dedicated to parks. If we were to do so, then it brings us back into our first proposed question in that we would essentially be speeding up the process of letting nature take over our setting. We shouldn’t simply remove “un-planned” vegetation but maybe isolate or direct it in different way for different experiences. It doesn’t have to be at as large of a scale as a park necessarily but a garden for example.

Reading:
Stokes, David L. “Local Land-Use planning to Conserve Biodiversity: Planners Persepective on What Works.” Conservation Biology 24, no. 2: 450-460. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost.

Summary:
This article focuses on the growing problem of urbanization and how it directly impacts biodiversity and habitat situations. The article interviews various planners of different regions with variance on jurisdictions (in terms of biodiversity in local planning) and how that plays its part. Studies found that areas of lower jurisdiction were of direct association with higher governmental levels while higher jurisdiction with associated with higher community values. In order to achieve higher jurisdiction, the article suggests a stress of importance on public education at a local scale, specifically on flagships and the potential benefits that come with local biodiversity. Based on studies that some of these planners have accumulated over time, they agree with the fact that human interest is associated with greater success. If we are to achieve a higher range of success, we must increase interest, which begins with education and identifying our failures. The weight is then put on the designers shoulders to initiate education, connections, and awareness through experience by strategically designing urban parks and green spaces with seclusion from urban context while still remaining within its boundaries.

Proposed Discussion:

How can planners consider biodiversity as a primary concern instead of an after thought and attend to it before it becomes a larger issue?

Do you think that every person has a responsibility to protect biodiversity or is it solely the planners responsibility?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I believe that in order to start considering biodiversity as a primary concern we have to start with how it relates to the local. Just as the article suggests, education is the first step, but I believe its a matter of how relevant the education is to the individual that will determine their steps/ levels of establishing change.  You can’t just throw out facts in their face and say this and this is going to happen if “we as society don’t begin to change.” I think that education needs to start at a smaller and more intimate scale, meaning that we need facts as to how it will affect the individual more so then society as a whole. We have grown to become a selfish society and feel that everyone else will figure things out so reference to how it will affect a larger scale as a main argument will achieve nothing. Education must be established in a way that is specific to the individual, as hard or inconvenient as that may be, and then individually we can do our part to benefit our selfish needs and accumulate a higher degree of success as a entirety. As a follow up to the second question, this begins with planners to initiate the education necessary to establish change. They must strategically use what they are given with in terms of context and incorporate ways to stress the importance through awareness to achieve a higher level of success.

 

Photo 1:
Misinterpreted Weeds
Roofer 1. Weed Hill. Photograph. Flickr. April 7th, 2008.
Weed Hill

Photo 2:
Human Engagement
Cuba Gallery. Garden Portrait. Photograph. Flickr. April 15th, 2009.
flower