AZC Unveils Plans for a Giant Inflatable Trampoline Bridge in Paris

There are plenty of beautiful bridges that carry cars and pedestrians across the Seine River in Paris, so awesome design firm AZC has another idea in store. Why not create a bridge dedicated to fun? Their inflatable crosswalk features enormous trampolines in the center of each of the three rings for people to bounce and flip their way over the water. With their eyes set on a strip near the Bir-Hakeim bridge, AZCwants their blow-up bridge to be a place where anyone can engage with their surroundings, and experience Paris like never before.

Read more: AZC Unveils Plans for a Giant Inflatable Trampoline Bridge in Paris | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Empire State Building cuts energy use 20%

Empire State Building cuts energy use 20% - May. 7, 2012

By Steve Hargreaves (CNN) The Empire State Building is on an energy diet.The hulking building, a symbol of American power and, to some, excess, has cut its energy use by 20%.And thats just due to changes to the buildings exterior. Once retrofits are made to tenant spaces on the inside, the second tallest building in Manhattan will be nearly 40% more efficient.

The retrofits will cost $20 million once theyre complete, and are expected to save the owners $4.4 million in annual energy costs.”After one year, we have proven that investing in energy efficiency gives building owners a dollars-and-cents advantage,” said Dave Myers, a president at Johnson Controls, which conducted the retrofit.

The changes to the Empire State include:

  • Filling the existing windows with an energy saving gas and adding an additional plastic pane.
  • Upgrading the buildings cooling system.
  • Using computerized “smart” energy management technology that can adjust temperatures floor by floor.
  • Provide tenants with detailed energy use in their space.
  • Automatically shut off lights in unused areas.

via Empire State Building cuts energy use 20% – May. 7, 2012.

NASA’s eco-friendly ‘Sustainability Base’ generates more electricity than it uses

NASA

NASA's eco-friendly 'Sustainability Base' generates more electricity than it uses

By Tiffany Hsu (Los Angeles Times) Instead of sending its employees to space, NASA is building them an office of the future closer to home.

The curvy, space-age building at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley incorporates technology used by astronauts and will be one of a few structures in the state that can generate more electricity than it consumes. Construction won’t be complete until mid-July, but the federal government has already chosen the $20-million facility its green building of the year.

It has a name only government officials could love — the Sustainability Base — but it is generating a lot of buzz among businesses and government agencies trying to be more green. The structure, near San Jose, was designed to be a model of eco-friendly architecture.

“Buildings of the future could actually produce more energy than they use and reverse the trend of being a big, sucking drain without compromising anything,” said Steven Zornetzer, Ames’ associate center director.

Compared to other office buildings of similar size, the Sustainability Base will be about 6% more expensive to construct, he said. But NASA expects to recoup the expense within a decade because the building will cost less to operate.

via NASA Sustainability Base green building: NASA’s Sustainability Base generates buzz for its eco-friendly architecture – latimes.com.

World’s Fourth Largest City is Completely Billboard-Free

(WebUrbanist) Outdoor advertising is so ubiquitous in almost every urban setting around the world, it’s difficult to walk down a street, take an escalator or sit on a bench without getting slapped in the face with one product or another. But the city of São Paulo, Brazil is like an advertising ghost town: all of its billboards stand oddly blank and empty.

In September of 2007, the world’s fourth-largest metropolis was scrubbed of almost every type of outdoor advertising – even pamphlets. It’s all part of mayor Gilberto Kassab’s quest to eliminate visual clutter, making the city itself the focal point rather than colorful, increasingly desperate marketing campaigns.

Read the rest: weburbanist.com | Sao Paulo scrubbed of out door ads

High-tech aerogels wrap homes with insulation

Aerogels are made by removing the liquid from gels, resulting in a material that is more than 90 percent air. The porous structure of that nanomaterial makes it difficult for heat to pass through. As a result, aerogels make very good and light-weight insulators.

Because of costs, aerogel manufacturers have focused on high-end industrial applications, such as insulating oil and gas pipelines and even the Mars Rover spacecraft.

But now, a handful of aerogel companies are offering thin blankets that serve as replacements for traditional fiberglass, foam, or cellulose insulation. It’s still more expensive upfront but the costs have fallen to the point that it can make sense in certain cases, particularly masonry or curved walls, according to Aspen Aerogels.

via High-tech aerogels wrap homes with insulation | Green Tech – CNET News.

In Portland, Going Green and Growing Vertical in a Bid for Energy Savings

PORTLAND, Ore. — Urban gardening used to seem subversive. People planted tomatoes in public parks, strung their hops to rooftops to make homebrew and reclaimed empty lots as community farms, never mind the property owner.

Yet here in one of the more thoroughly tilled cities in America, subversive has come full circle: the federal government plans to plant its own bold garden directly above a downtown plaza. As part of a $133 million renovation, the General Services Administration is planning to cultivate “vegetated fins” that will grow more than 200 feet high on the western facade of the main federal building here, a vertical garden that changes with the seasons and nurtures plants that yield energy savings.

“They will bloom in the spring and summer when you want the shade, and then they will go away in the winter when you want to let the light in,” said Bob Peck, commissioner of public buildings for the G.S.A. “Don’t ask me how you get them irrigated.”

To read complete article by William Yardley go to NYTimes.com

Plantagon: Geodesic Dome Farm of the Future

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Lots of cities have farmers markets, but most — if not all — of the produce comes from rural farmers that use oil-intensive methods of transportation to cart around their food. With 80% of all people on the planet projected to live in cities by 2050, food production will have to move into cities if it is to remain cost-efficient. A Swedish-American company called Plantagon has conceived of an incredible solution: a massive urban greenhouse contained within a geodesic dome. The vertical farm, which consists of a spiral ramp inside a spherical dome, is currently in the development stages.

To read complete article by Ariel Schwartz go to inhabitat.com

Reinventing America’s Cities: The Time Is Now

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THE country has fallen on hard times, but those of us who love cities know we have been living in the dark ages for a while now. We know that turning things around will take more than just pouring money into shovel-ready projects, regardless of how they might boost the economy. Windmills won’t do it either. We long for a bold urban vision.

With their crowded neighborhoods and web of public services, cities are not only invaluable cultural incubators; they are also vastly more efficient than suburbs. But for years they have been neglected, and in many cases forcibly harmed, by policies that favored sprawl over density and conformity over difference.

Such policies have caused many of our urban centers to devolve into generic theme parks and others, like Detroit, to decay into ghost towns. They have also sparked the rise of ecologically unsustainable gated communities and reinforced economic disparities by building walls between racial, ethnic and class groups.

Correcting this imbalance will require a radical adjustment in how we think of cities and government’s role in them. At times it will mean destruction rather than repair. And it demands listening to people who have spent the last decade imagining and in many cases planning for more sustainable, livable and socially just cities.

The changes needed may seem extravagant, but they are not impossible. Many of those who see the current economic crisis as a chance to rebuild the country’s infrastructure have pointed to previous major government public works projects, like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Projects Administration in the 1930s and 1940s and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1956 National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, as a reminder of what this country was once capable of.

To read complete article by Nicolai Ouroussoff go to NYTimes.com

Reclaiming Oil Rigs as Oceanic Eco-Resorts

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Morris Architects, a Houston-based architecture and design firm, recently took top honors for two of their submissions in the Radical Innovation in Hospitality design competition. The grand prize winner, the Oil Rig Platform Resort and Spa makes use of one of 4,000 oil rigs out in the Gulf of Mexico and transforms it into a luxurious eco-resort and spa. We love how the inspired renovation takes an iconic source of dirty energy and converts it to an eco-haven that generates all of its power from renewable sources.

To read complete article by Bridgette Steffen go to inhabitat.com

Museum features exhibit on tornado-ravaged Kansas town

 WASHINGTON — Tiny Greensburg, Kansas, rebuilding from scratch after nearly being wiped away by a tornado last year, is quickly becoming a model for going green.
Along with Masdar City, a planned car-free community outside Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and other developments, the rural Kansas town offers vivid examples of sustainable living in “Green Community,” a new exhibit at the National Building Museum. The exhibit opened Thursday and will run for a year.

“They are really making a wonderful opportunity out of an absolute tragedy,” curator and architect Susan Piedmont-Palladino said of Greensburg. “Masdar and Greensburg do make a really good pair because they’re both looking at the whole package of green technologies — from very old ways of doing things to high-tech ways.”

To read complete article by Brett Zongker of Associated Press go to USA Today.com