It’s summer, and as temperatures rise, many of us in the Great Lakes Region and beyond are yearning for something to mitigate the urban heat island effect. Thus it seems appropriate to highlight some resources related to one popular means to reduce urban heat islands and increase energy efficiency–the installation of green roofs.
Archive for the 'Smart Growth' Category
The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. The information on the site is meant to be applied to sites both with and without buildings, including, but not limited to:
- Open spaces such as local, state and national parks, conservation easements and buffer zones and transportation rights-of-way.
- Sites with buildings including industrial, retail and office parks, military complexes, airports, botanical gardens, streetscapes and plazas, residential and commercial developments and public and private campuses.
The Initiative site provides a copy of the report Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks – Draft 2008, which focuses on measuring how a site can protect, restore and regenerate ecosystem services – benefits provided by natural ecosystems such as cleaning air and water, climate regulation and human health benefits. This report contains over 50 draft prerequisites and credits that cover all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance.
Case studies, dates for upcoming presentations on sustainable sites, and information on the Initiative’s areas of focus (Why Sustainable Sites?; Hydrology; Soils; Vegetation; Materials; and Human Health & Well-being) are also provided.
According to the California Office of the Governor web site, on September 30, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 375, “by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), which builds on AB 32, California’s first-in-the-nation law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by adding the nation’s first law to control greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl…In order to reach the greenhouse gas reduction goals set out in AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Californians need to rethink how we design our communities. SB 375 does this by providing emissions-reduction goals around which regions can plan-integrating disjointed planning activities and providing incentives for local governments and developers to follow new conscientiously-planned growth patterns.” The legislation directs the California Air Resources Board to develop regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be achieved from the automobile and light truck sectors for 2020 and 2035, and provides incentives for the creation of walkable, sustainable communities and the revitalization of existing communities. The Governor also signed SB 372, which “establishes the Strategic Growth Council and will appropriate $500,000 from Prop 84 to the Resources Agency to support the Council and its activities.” Read the full press release regarding this legislation here.
On September 29, the Governor also signed AB 1879 and SB 509 related to green chemistry. “AB 1879 establishes authority for the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to develop regulations that create a process for identifying and prioritizing chemicals of concern and to create methods for analyzing alternatives to existing hazardous chemicals. It also allows DTSC to take certain actions following an assessment that range from ‘no action’ to ‘restrictions or bans.’ The bill also establishes a Green Ribbon Science Panel made up of experts to provide advice on scientific matters, chemical policy recommendations and implementation strategies, as well as ensuring implementation efforts are based on a strong scientific foundation. Moreover, it expands the role of the Environmental Policy Council, made up of the heads of all California Environmental Protection Agency boards and departments, to oversee critical activities related to the implementation of the green chemistry program. SB 509 creates an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse, a web-based database, to increase consumer knowledge about the toxicity and hazards of thousands of chemicals used in California every day.” A Green Chemistry Initiative has been established to develop policy options for implementing a green chemistry program. The initiative’s goal is to evaluate the health risks of chemicals and possible alternatives in a systematic way, rather than on a case-by-case basis. Read the full press release here.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! For those of us of Irish descent (and those who pretend to be Irish, if just for today), I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time considering environmental initiatives in Ireland. Here are a few examples of green activities on the Emerald Isle:
- Wind Power: According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, “wind energy provides electricity to the equivalent of 40 million European citizens, and wind farms in Ireland supply enough clean green power to support over 146,000 users.” Their web site provides an interactive map of existing wind farms in Ireland (as of April 2007). A recent post on the Green Tech Blog (“Ireland: Where Wind Power is King” by Michael Kanellos) discusses the great potential for further wind farm development on the island, both on and offshore.
- Cultivate Living and Learning Centre: The Cultivate Centre in Dublin serves as a hub for environmental activities and ideas. Their web site provides a green map of Dublin; environmental workshop listing; a directory of schools, businesses and other organizations in Ireland that are teaching or training and have principles of sustainability rooted in their mission and strategies; information on energy issues and climate change; and a host of other resources. The themes addressed in their educational programs include green building, permaculture and organic gardening, renewable energy, energy conservation, and rethinking urban design and planning.
- Cleaner Greener Production Programme (CGPP): This program of Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency encourages Irish business and industry to produce goods and services in more environmentally friendly ways. That agency defines “Cleaner Greener Production” as “the application of integrated preventive environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment, for example: (1) Production processes: conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes (2) Products: reducing negative impacts along the life cycle of a product, from raw materials extraction to its ultimate disposal (3) Services: encouraging and supporting the development of higher environmental performance in the service sector, by incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services.”