Green Infrastructure and Renewable Energy

Course video 23 of 52

Last week we learned about tools that manage the design and development of cities, including infrastructure investments, codes and design guidelines, financial incentives for better city design, and negotiations for common goods between those who build cities and those who make sure the public interest is served. These tools are even more important today, since climate change poses an acute threat to our cities, and the way in which our cities have been designed has been part of the problem. This week we will deal with some of the most important ways of making our cities more sustainable. We will discuss topics such as ecological urbanism, transportation as a growth armature, managing water -including floods and water scarcity, and green infrastructure and renewable energy. Landscape architecture has gained momentum lately as an important instrument of urban development. Landscape urbanism, ecological urbanism, and landscape infrastructure are some recent concepts about how to synthesize cities with nature. This is not simply about topography and trees, but more broadly about ecologically driven infrastructure, public space, and urbanization. Transportation is more than moving people from place to place. It has the ability shape the form, function, and quality of life of cities. We will look at some of the ways in which transportation can contribute to the creation and continuing viability of great urban centers, using fewer resources. As temperatures are increasing, glaciers are receding, ocean levels are rising, and storms are intensifying, how should we rethink the design and location of cities, especially coastal cities? As global warming shrinks freshwater supplies while populations continue to grow, how can we improve cities’ provision of water? We will look at some of the most important ways for cities to manage water, including how to fight water scarcity and prevent or mitigate floods. Urban green spaces should not be seen just as places for leisure time, but also as a viable alternative to grey infrastructure. For instance, green roofs, bio swales, and constructed wetlands can perform such functions as storm water management and water purification. Finally, instead of using traditional energy sources in cities that contribute to heating up our atmosphere, we can achieve zero-carbon communities by using renewable energy from natural sources that are continually replenished, including solar power, wind, biomass and geothermal heat. Today, as the effects of climate change become apparent, cities around the world should increasingly build green infrastructure and use renewable energy.

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