Urban Planning

cermak chicago greenest street in america

Cermak to Become Greenest Road in America

The city of Chicago is many things to many people, but it doesn’t have the “green” mental associations that, say, San Francisco or Portland have. That’s starting to change, however, and the plan to introduce smog-eating pavement to Chicago’s famous Cermak Rd. (which began back in 2012) could a big difference in the way people think of the Windy City. From storefront to street, the city of Chicago is installing light-colored pavement (which reduces the energy use of the street’s…

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madrid old city

Madrid City Planners Hope to be Car Free by 2020

Despite what cartoons like the Jetsons would have you believe, the future isn’t about flying cars- it’s about getting around with no cars at all. At least, that’s the message I’m getting from reading the tea leaves in places as far apart as the Binhai Eco City in China and Spain. Especially Spain, in fact, where city planners in Madrid plan to make the city center 100% car-free by 2020. Madrid’s plan, called “2020 Mobility Plan”, is set to kick…

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Binhai Eco City Plan Transforms Chinese Coast

Founded in 2010 by Danish architect Jens Holm, the New York-based HAO design firm has developed a comprehensive, eco-conscious city planning scheme that would transform the Chinese coastal town of Binhai, Tianjin into one of the world’s most sustainable cities. The 49.2 acre project was designed as part of features a museum campus, an exhibition center and fairgrounds, a sports center/arena, hotels, libraries, and a state-of-the-art financial district that blends perfectly with the area’s natural shore line park. As you…

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Bus Top Gardens Pop Up in NYC

As part of his thesis project at NYU, graduate student Marco Castro Casio designed a garden for the top of buses Casio calls his mobile garden idea “Bus Roots”, and says it is a way of “reconnecting urban communities with nature in a practical and playful way … bus roots is a playful public transportation project that uses plants as a creative medium. It connects the citizens with their community while trying to use the least amount of resources and improving the…

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Do Urban Planners Overthink Traffic Flow? (w/ Video)

Taken in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, this video of Meskel Square is both terrifying and, oddly, reassuring- especially when you notice that the myriad cars, buses, and bikes of Addis Ababa seem to be getting through the major intersection without the inefficiency and frustration so common with the stop-and-go traffic patterns of the urban intersections Americans are probably most familiar with. All of which begs the question: do urban planners overthink traffic flow? Traffic planning is usually considered…

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Vertical Garden Exhibit at Chicago MSI

Green roof design is becoming popular all over the world, but this vertical garden conceptual model – part of the Fast Forward exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) – takes the concepts of aquaponics, locally-grown produce, and urban farming to new heights by stuffing all those things into a single, “green” skyscraper. Vertical farming, which some experts claim uses just 1/6 of the resources required by conventional “flat” farming to produce a given quantity of produce, is…

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Hugelkulturb infographic how-to

Hugelkultur Offers Benefits to Urban Gardeners

Hugelkultur is wood, buried in soil. That’s the extra-condensed version of the story, anyway- the slightly longer version explains that the techniques behind Hugelkultur allow more plants and crops to be grown in a given horizontal space, giving each plant more sun and more nutrients with less labor and, in some cases, without digging at all. That’s good news for places like Florida, where, if you start digging, you’ll hit a lot limestone sooner than you think. Basically, Hugelkultur encourages…

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urban planning cemetery design

Cemeteries and the Future of Urban Planning

Everybody poops, and everybody dies. Those are two of the most critical things anyone in urban planning has to keep in mind when they’re planning, you know, urbans, because every single human, cat, dog, and horse that will be living in the futuristic utopia they’ve designed will, eventually, poop/die. Pleasant thought, that – but, as we press on towards to a better and more sustainable future filled with rooftop gardens and passive houses, we do actually need to address the…

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sweden city planning saves lives

This Swedish City Planning Strategy Saves Lives

Utah, Minnesota, and Washington have seen traffic fatalities decline by up to 40%, thanks to campaigns to reduce pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist deaths to zero. Aptly named “Vision Zero” and modeled by similar programs launched in Sweden, where pedestrian deaths have dropped by more than 50% since the plan was implemented, it’s hoped that these city planning strategies will allow cities like Portland and Chicago to replicate Sweden’s success. Vision Zero, however, is very much a national program. In New…

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Community Project Transforms Brazilian Bus Stops

Public transit is a major issue in any city, with obstacles like rising infrastructure costs, conflicting schedules, and pollution from old-style city buses making the topic a formidable one for governments and populations alike. Residents of many of Brazil‘s largest cities have one more problem to contend with, however: there’s almost no way to know what bus stops at what stop. That’s right. In many parts of Brazil there are no signs or schedules posted at the cities’ bus stops,…

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Minneapolis light rail

Light Rail Gets a Green Light in Minneapolis

Last week’s “yes” vote by the Minneapolis City Council marked the final local consent needed for the city to move ahead with the proposed Southwest light rail project. The new, $1.6 billion commuter line would connect the Eden Prairie neighborhood with downtown Minneapolis. Despite the landmark vote by the City Council, however, the new line is far from a finished reality. When the deal was announced, council member Elizabeth Glidden said the stations are in “challenging locations” because they are…

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city planning walkability bike lanes

A New Day, and a New Direction for EcoLocalizer

Since 2008, “think globally, act locally” has been EcoLocalizer’s tagline, and we’ve tried to cover a number of important topics – from human rights to income inequality – that make a difference in all our lives. What we discovered, sadly, was that we simply didn’t have the manpower to cover everything we felt passionately about. In addition, a number of our articles prompted readers to ask “How is that Eco? How is that local?” More often than not, they had…

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Australian Building Codes Mandate Rainwater Harvesting

Access to clean water is becoming increasingly scarce, but in an arid nation like Australia, water is most especially precious. Now many homes across the vast country are beginning to learn just how simple and important it can be to collect their own rainwater. Several areas in the country have even begun requiring rainwater catchment systems for all newly constructed buildings.

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Growing Our Local Food Infrastructure: Urban Farm School Opens in Asheville NC

Though it sometimes seems like our evil frankenfood corporate overlords, such as Monsanto and Dow, have completely hi-jacked our food system, many people around the nation are actually creating more sustainable and viable alternatives. A few good folks in Asheville, NC are bringing agriculture back to the people, empowering urbanites to gain more food independence, while learning to grow healthier fresh local food for their own communities.

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