Mar 26, 2014 10:46:00 AM
I'VE LEARNED A LOT FROM MY FAILURES as a gardener. Back before I knew better, I used to unleash the full force of sprinklers and nozzle spray on my tomatoes, cucumbers and butternut squash. But inevitably, the plants would develop leaf mold, mildew or some other crippling disease, and I’d lose much of my crop. Now I understand that I was using too much pressure—adding too much water at the wrong time, aiming at the wrong part of the plant, expecting fast results.
Mar 22, 2014 12:08:11 PM
Among the most intriguing and extravagant approaches to emerge in recent years to address the challenge of urban sustainability has been so-called “smart-from-the-start” eco-cities, medium-sized cities built from the ground up to incorporate the latest and greatest thinking in sustainable technology and design. These built-from-scratch settlements have started to sprout in several countries – so far, there are projects in various stages of completion in South Korea, Abu Dhabi, Portugal, Kenya, and across China—and they are being touted by developers as showcases for the most advanced ideas in resource-efficient living. They are financed largely by governments and deep-pocketed information technology companies that see a huge business opportunity in urban systems—as the global imperative for sustainable living becomes ever-more evident and pressing.
Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, embodies many of the aspirations of this new urban genre. By combining ancient design features, such as narrow, shaded streets angled to channel desert winds—with modern technology—including solar power, electric cars, and waste-to-energy systems—lead architect Norman Foster initially claimed that the city would be both carbon-neutral and zero-waste. Nearly seven years on, financial reality has set in; ambitions have been scaled back, and the completion date postponed. But the project is still moving forward. Looking ahead, planners intend for Masdar to serve as a test bed for home-grown innovations developed in an on-site research institute they hope will rival MIT.
Feb 27, 2013 10:51:00 AM
To truly understand the enormity of the global sustainable development challenge, go to India. I recently returned from my second trip to the subcontinent, where I was overcome by the abundance of urgent development challenges that cry out for sustainable solutions: roads that are clogged with diesel-belching traffic; an unreliable power grid that cuts out multiple times a day, even in technologically-advanced cities like Bangalore; a water table that is dropping precipitously in many areas as farmers engage in uncontrolled pumping for agriculture; more than 600 million people without access to adequate sanitation, which leads to frequent outbreaks of preventable disease.