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New Orleans’ Equity-Driven Reforestation Plan

New Orleans experiences the worst urban heat island effect in the country, with temperatures nearly 9 F° higher than nearby natural areas. The city also lost more than 200,000 trees from Hurricane Katrina, dropping its overall tree canopy to just 18.5 percent.

The non-profit organization Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL) partnered with landscape architects at Spackman Mossop Michaels (SMM) to create a highly accessible, equity-focused reforestation plan for the city that provides a roadmap for achieving a tree canopy of 24 percent by 2040. But more importantly, the plan also seeks to equalize the canopy, so at least 10 percent of all 72 neighborhoods are covered in trees. Currently, more than half of neighborhoods are under the 10 percent goal.

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What COP27 Meant for Architecture and the Construction Industry

The 2022 United Nations Conference of the Parties, more commonly referred to as COP27, was held between November 6 and November 18, 2022, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The conference included more than 90 heads of state and an estimated 35,000 representatives, or delegates, from 190 countries. Aimed at encouraging and guiding countries to take effective action against climate change, the next edition of these conferences, COP28, is already scheduled from 30 November to 12 December 2023, in the United Arab Emirates. The CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co, an oil company chief who also oversees renewable energy efforts in the Emirates, was appointed to preside over the negotiations and talks, which led to a wave of criticism from environmental activists.

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New York State of Wind: Future Looks Breezy for Offshore Empire

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

While approaching Wainscott Beach on Long Island’s South Fork in early December, one could see the most tangible aspect of offshore wind’s New York progress even before hearing the crash of waves: three pillars, each about as tall as the Statue of Liberty, jutting up from the ocean. They were the legs of the Jill, a liftboat from the Gulf of Mexico stationed about a third of a mile off the coast of Long Island’s South Fork.

Copenhagen Selects JAJA Architects’ Proposal for New Climate-Friendly Metro Stations

JAJA Architects won the competition organized by Metroselskabet, Denmark, to develop resource-efficient and climate-friendly metro stations. The winning team takes a comprehensive and holistic approach, looking at both material-optimized and sustainable design solutions and the character of the journey that passengers take to reach their destination. The proposal is centered around three core elements: Materials, Mobility Hub and Climate Campaign. While aiming to reduce CO2 emissions, the team also seeks to create an enjoyable and easy-to-navigate space for the many daily passengers. Snøhetta, 3XN/GXN, and Effekt also participated in the competition.

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Nature-based Protection Against Storm Surges

“Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was a wake-up call for NYC and made the city realize it needed to better prepare for climate change,” said Adrian Smith, FASLA, vice president at ASLA and team leader of Staten Island capital projects with NYC Parks. Due to storm surges from Sandy, “several people in Staten Island perished, and millions in property damage were sustained.”

On the 10th anniversary of Sandy, Smith, along with Pippa Brashear, ASLA, principal at SCAPE, and Donna Walcavage, FASLA, principal at Stantec, explained how designing with nature can lead to more resilient shoreline communities. During Climate Week NYC, they walked an online crowd of hundreds through two interconnected projects on the southwestern end of the island: Living Breakwaters and its companion on land — the Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project.

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During COP27, the Necessity to Achieve Net Zero Comes into Sharp Focus

Starting on November 6, world leaders are gathering in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, for COP27. The name stands for the 27th conference of parties, an almost annual event started under the 1992 UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC). The purpose of these conferences is to ensure that counties around the world are committed to taking action to avoid dangerous climate change and find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally in an equitable way. The effectiveness of these meetings varied throughout the years, with some successful initiatives, like the 2015 Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty adopted by 196 Parties with the goal of limiting global warming below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

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San Marino Declaration for Sustainable and Inclusive Architecture Receives Signatures of Norman Foster and Stefano Boeri

While the United Nations has been continuously urging architects, engineers, and city shapers to put the 2030 agenda and the SDGs into action, and the IPCC report revealed intensifying climate change, sparking widespread discussion over insufficient action, the 83rd ongoing session of The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe - UNECE Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management taking place in San Marino, has just issued a special declaration on “how to build better, safer, more inclusive, and resilient" cities, ahead of COP27. This set of “Principles for Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Design and Architecture”, or the San Marino declaration has gathered the signatures of Norman Foster and Stefano Boeri.

It’s Time to Be Honest About the Impending Costs of Climate Change

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

The passage of the Biden Administration’s climate change package, the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act,” has predictably split along partisan lines, with Republicans characterizing the bill as an act of reckless government spending, certain to raise taxes and fuel further inflation. But does this act really represent reckless spending? The legislation authorizes $430 billion in spending, the bulk of which—more than $300 billion—is earmarked for tax credits; other spending, and initiatives aimed at stimulating the clean energy economy; and reducing carbon emissions. (The bill also allows Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies for certain expensive drugs.) The bill is funded in part by a 15% minimum tax on large corporations and an excise tax on companies that repurchase shares of their own stock. Given the scope of the problem, and the escalating future costs of climate inaction, this legislation is an exceedingly modest, but very necessary, first step.

How are Cities Adapting to Heatwaves in the Face of Climate Change

The climate crisis has made heat waves more likely and more intense around the world. In the northern hemisphere, the record-breaking temperatures are putting millions of people in danger. During the last months, recurring heatwaves have been affecting Central and Western Europe, causing wildfires, evacuations, and heat-related deaths. In the United States, local leaders are also urging caution, while densely populated cities in Asia are announcing strategies for coping with the extreme temperatures.

Cities are on the front lines of this public health emergency. People living in urban areas are among the hardest hit when heatwaves happen, partly because of urban heat islands. This is a phenomenon that occurs when cities replace the natural land cover with dense concentrations of surfaces that absorb and retain heat, like pavements and buildings. Heat risk levels also vary by neighborhood, with less affluent and historically marginalized sectors being the most affected due to the density of the population, limited access to cooling systems, and the limited availability of green urban spaces.

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The Right to the Beach: Walling off Coastal Erosion

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, affluent Parisians flocked to second homes on France’s Atlantic coast as a nationwide lockdown came down on the country. In June 2020, as the lockdown was eased in England, residents headed to seaside towns like Bournemouth to soak in sunny weather. The former scenario reflects the widening gap between France’s wealthy and the poor, whilst the latter is a reflection of the democratizing power of public-access beaches.

In both situations, what is sought out is the ecological calmness usually found on beaches. Globally, however, there’s an unsettling phenomenon, where intertwined with climate change and policy decisions, beaches are increasingly becoming private, inaccessible spaces.

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Cities Embrace Climate Action Planning to Mitigate the Adverse Effects of Climate Change

Cities across the globe are developing comprehensive action plans in order to create a coordinated response to the challenges of climate change. Targets and goals for consumption-based emissions are important for guiding strategic planning and decision-making, improving accountability, and communicating the direction of travel to businesses and the public. National and regional government officials are working with the private sector, international organizations, and civil society to create change at every level, from structural interventions in supply chains and industries to individual choices.  This demonstrates a rising understanding of the role of cities in mitigating the adverse effects of rising temperatures.

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Barcelona Prepares Climate Shelters to Keep Residents Cool During the Summer Months

Cities across the Northern Hemisphere are preparing for the upcoming summer months, which are expected to be warmer and drier than average. The European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts warns about temperatures rising above the norm in central and southern Europe this summer. Similarly, the forecast for the Unites States predicts hotter weather and below-average rainfall likely to fuel a megadrought. This poses threats for citizens, especially in larger cities, where heat-absorbing asphalt and waste heat generated by energy use create a “heat-island” effect. It translates to temperatures being up to 10°F (5.6°C) warmer in cities compared to the surrounding natural areas.

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Cities Address Environmental Issues with Digital Twins, Climate Research and Bee Bricks Mandates

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Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash . ImageCentral Park

Earlier this month, a series of cities worldwide have revealed various initiatives that would help them better understand the effects of climate change and shape a more environmentally conscious environment. From several American cities creating digital twins to help curb carbon emissions to the city of Brighton mandating bee bricks to foster biodiversity and Central Park becoming a laboratory for studying climate change adaptation in urban parks, cities take on a multidisciplinary and multi-scalar approach to environmental issues.

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