Smart Cities

Smart Cities

Green cities on the cheap: Low-cost solutions for a sustainable world

This interview originally appeared in The Dirt. Jaime Lerner was elected mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, in 1971, and reelected two more times before serving as governor of the Brazilian state of Paraná. As mayor, Lerner devised a number of low-cost solutions and innovative partnerships with the public and private companies that turned Curitiba into a model green community. He has won a number of major awards for his transportation, design, and environmental work, including the United Nations Environment Award. In 2002, Lerner was elected president of the International Union of Architects. Today, he is principal of Jamie Lerner Associated Architects. …

Critical List: Seattle bans plastic bags; at least 100 million trees died in Texas this year

Seattle is banning retail stores from giving out single-use plastic bags. Paper bags will cost a nickel. Google is investing $94 million in solar projects. As many as 500 million trees died in the Texas drought this year. India could join the U.S. in officially complaining that China's been selling solar panels at too low a price. In the Chinese province of Guangdong, protestors are pinning air pollution on a coal-fired power plant and want it moved.

Here’s a parking garage that doubles as an urban farm

Even the most utopian visions of a low-carbon world include cars, and even if they're fueled on electricity or ethanol, cars need places to park. But if parking structures have to exist, at least they can double as urban farms. In Vancouver, a company called Valcent Products is building a high-density "VertiCrop" farm on the roof of a parking garage. The farm will be super high-tech, with motorized conveyors moving layers of plants into position for optimum sun, watering, and easy harvesting. Valcent says the farm will produce as much as as a 16-acre field in California. Plus, nobody likes …

IKEA to design an entire neighborhood

Exciting news for those whose entire house is populated by IKEA furniture (we know you're out there): the Swedish furniture company is going to be building an entire neighborhood in London. We know. It'll be like living in the IKEA store! With a Swedish meatball shop on every corner and 24/7 access to lingonberry jam. (There will also be a floating cocktail bar. That’s not an obscure IKEA store joke. There will just be a floating cocktail bar.) IKEA is planning some smart features for the 26-acre, 1,200-home neighborhood. It'll be mixed-use and feature underground parking. The company also says …

Smart Cities

Green giants: Seattle gets even greener, starting with its biggest buildings

Brian Geller, executive director of the Seattle 2030 DistrictPhoto: Greg HanscomSeattle, a.k.a. the Emerald City, looms Oz-like in the imaginations of eco-minded architects and designers. Its reputation for being uber green drew architect Brian Geller to the city from New York a few years ago. Now, he looks at the skyline rising above Elliott Bay and sees how much greener the place could be. More than 70 percent of the electricity generated in this country goes to heating, cooling, lighting, and otherwise powering our homes, offices, and other buildings. This accounts for a whopping 38 percent of our globe-warming carbon …

Critical List: Scientists find Earth 2.0; rootworms defeat Monsanto corn

Scientists found a planet that looks an awful lot like Earth. One U.N. leader says that even an international treaty won't ensure the world avoids dangerous climate change. And we don't even have that! Rootworms are developing a resistance to Monsanto's Bt corn, and scientists get to say "I told you so." The Carbon War Room has all your jet fuel sustainability rankings right here. Paris is planning to increase its rooftop green space by nearly 300 percent.