5 Essential Factors for Creating a Framework for Municipal Resiliency

November 1st, 2016 by Cathy Rust 1 comment »

san-diego-city-buildings-and-bridge_mkipkwy_Resiliency is a concept that should be top of mind for city planners, city councils, residents and businesses alike. There are so many factors affecting how cities function that methods of development, emergency preparedness, and maintaining status quo are no longer acceptable options for keeping cities functioning. At the Green Building Festival in Toronto in September, Antonio Gomez-Palacio spoke about developing a framework for city resiliency.  I spoke with him after the conference to find out more.

Contrary to what most people imagine as a resilient community, resiliency isn’t only about our ability to adapt to the weather effects of climate change. In fact, what constitutes “failure” needs to be redefined. While we might think of an overflowing river that washes over a downtown area of a city as a failure of the barricades to do their job, Antonio points out, however,  that it is our recovery to the event that is more important than the event happening itself. A resilient community accepts that events to which it is vulnerable will happen; but how quickly the community recovers is the sign of success. For example, a household can survive downtime for one to three days, but a hospital can survive for less than two minutes.

A resilient city is one that can adapt to the multiple factors affecting it. However, these factors range from being sudden such as in being hit with a hurricane resulting flood and wind damage to slower, less noticeable changes, such as changing demographics – ageing populations, youth leaving, etc. » Read more: 5 Essential Factors for Creating a Framework for Municipal Resiliency

BonApp launches its First Food Sharing fridge at le 5ième

October 28th, 2016 by Cathy Rust No comments »
BonApp fridge and stand in le 5ième

BonApp fridge and stand in le 5ième

BonApp, the brainchild of Geneviève Rousseau, is all about helping extra food stay out of the (new) compost program in Montreal. The idea is for people to share excess produce before it goes bad. To facilitate this exchange, BonApp is setting up its first 5 fridges (it is hoped the first of many) in community spaces on the island of Montreal. The first fridge was launched at le 5ième, a zero-waste cafe and coworking space, in Little Burgundy. » Read more: BonApp launches its First Food Sharing fridge at le 5ième

Five Green Shades of Melbourne: Development Projects Changing Capital of Victoria

October 10th, 2016 by Contributor No comments »
Artist's rendering of green roof potential of Melbourne, Australia. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/new-maps-show-melbournes-unused-rooftops-are-ripe-for-greening-20151109-gku4yq.html

Artist’s rendering of green roof potential of Melbourne, Australia. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/new-maps-show-melbournes-unused-rooftops-are-ripe-for-greening-20151109-gku4yq.html

According to The Economist’s Global Liveability Survey 2016, Melbourne’s remains the world’s most livable city for the sixth year running, and judging by the hike in eco-friendly development projects, it could soon bring home the medal as the planet’s greenest metropolis as well. With the upgrade to solar power we’ve seen in the CBD (Central Business District) of late and the Melbourne Water’s pledge to a more sustainable and livable Melbourne encompassing a number of projects, we’re witnessing a rise of environmentally conscious developments that will change the face of Victoria’s capital for good, for the better, and for the greener, too. » Read more: Five Green Shades of Melbourne: Development Projects Changing Capital of Victoria

Reflections on a Successful Green Building Festival 2016

October 5th, 2016 by Cathy Rust No comments »

This past week I was fortunate to be able to attend the Green Building Fest, an annual event, hosted this year by Sustainable Buildings Canada and the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (IISBE). Watching the presentations was like being on an emotional roller coaster. When the various government officials presented (Glen Murray (minister of the Environment and Climate Change), Alex Woods (policy writer presenting Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan) and Dianne Saxe, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario), I felt depressed and hopeless based on their honest and somewhat depressing view of where we are headed. The news is not good.

I was uplifted, however, by the brilliant and well-prepared presentations from the extraordinarily talented people invited to speak to us about projects in which they are involved that are helping us adapt to climate change. The theme this year was resiliency — because we can no longer prevent climate change, it’s here, so we must prepare ourselves and our communities for the effects of extreme weather events. The presenters gave me hope that we will be able to adjust and adapt, although, make no mistake, it’s going to be messy and ugly and expensive in the beginning, but the cost of inaction is uglier, messier and even more expensive. We are at the point of no return. We need to act now and put ideas into action or future generations will pay dearly for our inaction. » Read more: Reflections on a Successful Green Building Festival 2016

Urban Agriculture: New Project at le Palais des Congrès de Montréal

October 3rd, 2016 by Cathy Rust No comments »
Harvest Bounty from the Montreal Convention Centre's Green Roof

Harvest Bounty from the Montreal Convention Centre’s Green Roof

Like many cities across North America, Montreal has problems with localized heat islands during the summer, raising the temperature significantly compared with its surroundings. This effect is due to the density of buildings and road network, and not enough green space to absorb the sun’s heat.  In addition, with changing and somewhat unpredictable weather conditions due to climate change, an increasing number of cities are beginning to experiment with different forms of urban agriculture. One of the projects in Montreal is a partnership between the Montreal convention centre (le Palais des Congrès de Montréal), the department of urban agricultural research from the university of Quebec at Montreal (AU/LAB at UQAM), Miel Montreal, and La Ligne Verte. This is a true collaborative project to learn what is possible regarding growing food within the confines of a rooftop. The project aims to fulfill several objectives:

  • Reduce heat island effect for the neighbouring area;
  • Absorb stormwater;
  • Produce plants and vegetables for a variety of uses;
  • Preserve heirloom seeds from some rarer varieties of plants;
  • Demonstrate Montreal’s efforts to become a resilient city in the face of changing weather patterns;
  • Provide a “lab” like setting to develop new vertical farming techniques.

» Read more: Urban Agriculture: New Project at le Palais des Congrès de Montréal

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