Smart Cities

How transit and smart growth are saving Cleveland

Cleveland is one of those ailing American cities constantly held up as an example of the country's decline. But The New York Times has taken a look at a revitalization plan the city's been working on and found that, in one uptown area at least, the city is actually growing. And the drivers of that expansion are (drumroll, please) transit and smart growth. One of the first projects the city invested in when it was starting out was a bus rapid transit line from the city's downtown to the uptown University Circle. With 12 million riders in three years, the …

New use for green roof: grazing reindeer

"Santa Claus" (real name: Dave Kavanaugh, entomologist) has brought his reindeer to the green roof of the California Academy of Sciences. Between now and January 16, they'll be grazing its gentle slopes and fertilizing them with bon bons, because everyone knows that reindeer shit delicious Christmas treats.


Jane Jacobs and the book that inspired a revolution

If cities are the greenest form of human settlement that we could possibly aspire to, Jane Jacobs left us the owner’s manual for how to build them. Fifty years ago this month, Random House published The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an extraordinary book in which Jacobs laid out the principles for creating a healthy city. The blocks must be at a human scale, she said. There must be a diversity of activities to keep eyes on the street. The focus of the economy — of everything — should be local, typified by Greenwich Village, the Manhattan neighborhood …

Thailand’s DIY climate adaptation solutions

It's more likely than not at this point that climate change will substantially alter the world we live in, and humans will have to adapt. Climate adaption plans usually invoke big ideas, like sea walls and dykes and drought-resistant crops. But the response to the floods (likely due to climate change) that have devastated Thailand shows how varied and inventive local-level adaptation to adverse climate conditions can be. There are the swimming vests for cats and dogs that depend on water bottles for buoyancy, the flood bicycles that ride above the water, and the boats made entirely of water bottles. …

Instead of buying kitchen gadgets, why not share?

If you’ve ever looked at a wedding registry, you might have a sense of how many uni-tasking kitchen appliances there are on the market. Most kitchens have more gadgets than they can hold, and most people aren't using their canning equipment/bread machine/cider press very often. So wouldn't it make more sense to share? In Portland, a couple of collaborative consumption centers are working off of that idea. In north and now southeastern Portland, residents can borrow kitchen tools from a lending library of gadgets. North Portland Preserve and Serve is donation-based: just schedule some quality time with that steam juicer …


Putting the wilderness back in our cities

Neil Chambers’ new book, Urban Green: Architecture for the Future, is a study in imprecision. Ankle deep and a mile wide, the book reads like a half-baked primer in green design and conservation science. It could have used another year or two in the oven. It’s too bad. At the heart of this book — the end, actually — there’s an interesting idea. And while he only brushes past it in the book, Chambers, a design consultant and blogger for, has an interesting story to tell. Urban Green opens with Chambers’ epiphany that in our quest to save the …

People love smart cities, as long as you don't call them smart cities

The vast majority of Americans — almost 80 percent — are totally on board with living somewhere that's close to jobs and schools, where the environment is clean and you don't have to spend much money on gas. They just don't want to live in places that are "sustainable" or involve "smart growth," because that shit is for hippies. Messaging is crucial when it comes to community planning, according to a panel at the SXSW Eco conference. Suburban and rural dwellers don't care about things like climate change, transportation, and land use, but those factors have serious impact on their …

Critical List: EPA’s greenhouse report comes in for criticism; motorcycles are gross

The EPA and its inspector general disagree over what qualifies as a "scientific assessment." The EPA has concluded that greenhouse gases are dangerous; the IG now says that the assessment didn’t go through sufficient peer review. This is actually about the review of the relevant “technical support document,” not about the scientific findings, but tell that to Republicans. The DOE gave a $737 million loan guarantee to a solar-tower project in Nevada, which had better the hell not fail now. Motorcycles are more fuel efficient, but their tailpipe emissions contain nasty stuff.


Red means stop, except for bikers in Kansas

Under a new Kansas law cooked up by bikers and motorcyclists, two-wheelers are allowed to run red lights.

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