Wednesday the 28th, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) will host a discussion called The Infrastructure of Urban Ecologies. Speakers will include William Morrish, Dean of the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, and Kazys Varnelis, Director of Network Architecture Lab at GSAPP. Morrish is an urban designer focused on community-based projects, and Varnelis is the co-founder of the experimental architectural collaborative AUDC. October 28th, 6:30PM to 8:30PM in Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall, 1172 Amsterdam Avenue.
The Council on the Environment of New York City and the Staten Island Compost Project will be co-hosting a recycling and home composting workshop this Saturday afternoon at the St. George Library on Staten Island. Tin can tricks and live worm bins, fun for all ages. October 24th, 1-3pm, 5 Central Avenue, Staten Island, just a block from the ferry terminal.
We’ve updated our flickr stream with photos from the Composting Workshop we held at the end of August and last weekend’s reading from the works of Robert Frost. Both events were rainy but drew enthusiastic and game crowds and speakers. Thanks to Mark Bigelow from the Staten Island Compost Project and Beth Gorrie from Staten Island OutLOUD for organizing these events with us. We’re looking forward to partnering with them again in the future.
Among Treehugger’s 10 greenest colleges in the US is the University of New Hampshire (UNH), the first college in the country to run primarily on landfill gas. 85% of electricity and gas needs on the 5 million square foot campus are met by methane produced at a private, nearby landfill operated by Waste Management and piped to the school from a cogeneration plant. The $49 million project, called EcoLine, was completed earlier this year and replaced a system that supplied UNH with natural gas. The new system is expected to pay for itself within the next 10 years and has lowered the school’s carbon emissions to 57% less than its 1990 levels.
Zero-net energy buildings are designed to be as energy-efficient as possible and to offset what energy they do use through renewable power generation. Some have already been built, like the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY. The state-of-the art education center and natural wastewater treatment facility boasts not only zero-net energy use due to its solar array, but also zero-net water use. Within the building, a wastewater filtration system called an “Eco-machine” treats and recycles all of the wastewater generated by the Omega Institute’s 23,000 projected annual visitors (the system has a daily capacity of 52,000 gallons). Other sustainable features include fly-ash concrete, a green roof, rain gardens, automatic windows to vent out hot air, recycled content steel throughout, closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling, and locally sourced, chemical-free construction materials. The Omega Center could become the first LEED platinum building to also win the Living Building designation.
The Science Barge is a touring greenhouse that showcases techniques in sustainable agriculture. All the energy used by the barge is produced by solar panels, wind turbines and biofuels, and the water used for irrigation comes from stormwater or purified river water. NY Sun Works designed the barge in 2007 as a demonstration space for rooftop gardening practices, and a large segment of its current on-board educational programs focus on teaching youth how to grow and tend rooftop crops. The barge is currently docked in Yonkers and is open to the general public on weekends for tours and events.
Another constructed wetland system, this time at the Sidwell Friend’s School in Washington D.C. The Wetland Machine by Andropogon Associates, Kieran Timberlake Associates and Natural Systems International incorporates two self-contained systems to recycle water, one for wastewater and one for stormwater. The wastewater system collects toilet and sink water from the school building in a treatment tank, then filters it out into artificial wetlands. The wetland plants filter out the contaminants as the water drips through over a period of days. It’s eventually returned to the building for greywater uses. Woven alongside is a stormwater system that directs runoff from the building’s green roof into a pond that students can use for biology research. The adjacent rain garden acts as a natural flood zone, absorbing excess water. This is an admirably comprehensive site and systems plan for water management.
The Waterpod is a a certified public vessel, a vegetable and chicken farm, a hodge-podge of sustainable systems (solar panels, rainwater collection, bicyle-produced electricity) and a recycled, floating home for six artists. They’ve lived there since Saturday and call it “a floating sculptural living structure designed as a new habitat for the global warming epoch.” For the next five months, the 30×100 ft barge will travel dock to dock through the five boroughs and host public tours. Right now the Waterpod is docked at Pier 2, Sheapshead Bay, Brooklyn; on July 6th it will be moved to Governor’s Island.
(via The New York Times)
Steve Cohen’s Consilience editorial on New York City waste management offers some good examples of how other cities deal with their garbage and offers some alternative proposals for our current system, with a focus on composting. He calls out the Lower East Side Ecology Center, which we’ve mentioned before, for its efforts to reduce the 47% of landfill waste that could otherwise be composted in New York City.
We figure that change starts at home: on June 25th, LESEC is hosting a workshop on indoor composting. Participants will receive a coupon for discount on the purchase of a worm bin. LESEC also collects household food scraps–60 tons of them a year–at its community garden in the Lower East Side and at the Union Square Greenmarket for use in making compost. The final product, a high quality soil amendment, is called New York Paydirt and is available for purchase.