Wednesday, November 7, 2007


We are here to challenge and inspire individuals from all fields to consider the efficient use of our resources in order to mitigate climate change, prepare for the crisis of peak oil, and evaluate our actions on a global scale. A deep consensus exists around the causes of climate change and a significant amount of work has already been done to identify technical solutions to mitigate carbon emissions. As a nation we have benefited from the processes that have placed these issues at the forefront of our concern and now need to lead the way in setting an example to the rest of the world. It is in our economic, environmental and security interests to commit to this path. The United States should be leading the way!

To illuminate how this can be achieved we look to the Presidency of the United States of America and the White House as the symbols of our Nation. Together they wield a powerful influence over the perspectives of world leaders, the opinions of the individual, and the course of our Nation’s political agenda. The White House is a physical structure and the Presidency a seat of power; together they can carry a symbolic importance that can yield a great educational impact to demonstrate the viability of this vision.

Time is of the essence! We need to act and we need to act now. The United States needs to consider the efficient use of resources in all aspects of the Presidency in order to say to the public and the rest of the world that sustainability, efficiency, and environmental responsibility are tenets that need to be applied to the policies, structures, and systems of our nation. America needs to step up to this challenge!

Traffic Mitigation

This link is for all you folks interested in different methods of traffic management.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quantifying is EASY!

Here's a start if you're daunted by the complex mathematical formulas required to accurately calculate a model of carbon emissions.

Final Agenda


Carbon emissions are a worldwide concern; its detrimental influence over resources and climate conditions negatively affects human development and environmental quality. Many attributed current increases in sea level and temperature to a number of factors; however it is largely due to carbon emissions from human pursuits, where America stands out as a significant leader and offender in developments and implementation of policies regarding carbon emission.

In terms of business operations and lifestyle, America consumes a large amount of resource, ranking as the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide. However, this is not only due to our amount of business or economic pursuits, but our lifestyle as well. The long term effects of carbon emissions do not strike the American population as an immediate or local concern, which can be specifically demonstrated in our habits around transportation.

As the relationship between land, resources, and human development, transportation is a concrete vehicle to analyze society’s impact on the environment. Governmental policy, market factors, development in technologies, and public opinion greatly shapes transportation. Thus, the overall culture of a country greatly impacts how carbon emissions are in relation to this topic; we wish to change this culture.

This is a large topic to tackle, where many are intimated to consider its future developments due to is overlying complexity. Problems of feeling disassociated with the operations of the White House including government and the policy making process, lead many to doubt their individual effectiveness and judgment. As a studio we will present the topic of carbon emissions in terms of transportation in an understandable manner. This will enable the American public to be confident in their assessment of the situation and their ability to participate in our governing structure.

In order to address this subject, a simple visual and conceptual symbol is needed. As the governing structure that influences policies concerning carbon emissions, we chose the White House to explored and used as a vehicle to educate the American public.


  • Reduce carbon emissions as much as possible knowing that the United States uses 80% more then other developed countries.
  • Collectively as a class, quantify our findings.
  • Mitigate climate change through the reduction of carbon emissions from transportation and the consideration of effective resource management.
  • Use the symbol of the White House as a way to educate the public about transportation.
  • Show the U.S. and international communities that the US is willing to initiate innovations related to climate change.


CLASS: Projects need to operate as a single cohesive system.

INDIVIDUAL: Each student must evaluate outputs of their intervention and identify solutions or possible alternatives.


CLASS: Present a visual outcome that reflects our ultimate goals, and unifies our individual projects.

INDIVIDUAL: By December 8th 2007, individual projects should be completed to give time for the visual outcome to be created. (ie. Wrap up boards, possible mapping, exhibit or final booklet showing our work together.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25: Working Session

On October 25th the studio visited New York to meet with designers, environmental scientists, green strategists and architects to discuss how to use the White House to focus the work of the studio.

The White House was reframed as a site of operations (the building) the seat of national leadership (the presidency) and a potent international symbol.

Thanks to Phu Duong, NBBJ, Nicholas Eisenberger & Noam Ross, Green Order, Claire Hartten, Dirt Cafe Project, Andrea Kahn, DesignContent, Meret Lenzlinger, LOCAL, Kyle Meng & James Weng, Environmental Defense and Michael Fishman, HALCROW who graciously hosted the session.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In the News: Change your Leaders not your Light Bulbs

Op-Ed Columnist

Save the Planet: Vote Smart

Published: October 21, 2007

People often ask: I want to get greener, what should I do? New light bulbs? A hybrid? A solar roof? Well, all of those things are helpful. But actually, the greenest thing you can do is this: Choose the right leaders. It is so much more important to change your leaders than change your light bulbs

The White House: First Lady

Main initiatives:

The President’s Malaria Initiative
Late in 2006, The President and Mrs. Bush hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Malaria to raise awareness of malaria and mobilize a grassroots effort to save millions of lives in Africa

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
Mrs. Bush has visited a number of prevention and treatment support programs in Africa that receive funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion-dollar initiative that supports prevention, treatment and care for adults and children with HIV and AIDS in 120 countries around the world.

The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) is saving lives. President Bush announced the Initiative in June 2005. A five-year, $1.2 billion program, PMI challenges the private sector to join the U.S. government in combating malaria in 15 of the hardest-hit African countries. PMI's goal is to cut malaria’s mortality rate by 50 percent in these target countries, freeing these African nations and their citizens from the grip of debilitating disease. Through partnerships working in the first three target countries – Angola, Tanzania and Uganda – aid from the American people has already reached about six million Africans. In 2007, 30 million more will receive life-saving medicines, sprays, and nets as the program expands. One American with just $10 for a mosquito net can help save a life in Africa

Public-Private Partnership for Clean Water in Africa
Mrs. Bush announced a groundbreaking public-private partnership between the U.S. Government, PlayPumps International, the Case Foundation, and other public and private sector partners. This $60 million alliance works with 10 sub-Saharan African countries to bring the benefits of clean drinking water to as many as 10 million people by 2010.

First ladies must act as a wife and mother, social advocate, public figure and celebrity, social hostess, diplomat, symbol of American women, White House manager and preservationist, campaigner, presidential and political party booster, presidential spokesperson and political and presidential partner.

The White House: Administrative Offices

The Executive Office of the President (EOP) consists of the immediate staff of the President of the United States, as well as multiple levels of support staff reporting to the President.
the current figures for the EOP are about 1,800 full-time equivalent employees. These employees work in the East Wing and the West Wing of the White House and in the Executive Office Building, an extension of the White House.

The East Wing houses offices for the first lady, White House Social Secretary, White House Calligrapher, and correspondence staff, and other members of the White House staff.

The West Wing is the part of the White House Complex in which the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, and the Situation Room are located. Besides serving as the day-to-day office of the President of the United States, it includes offices for senior members of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and their support staff.

Senior staff within the Executive Office of the President have the title "Assistant to the President". Second-level staff have the title "Deputy Assistant to the President", and third-level staff have the title "Special Assistant to the President". Very few are required to be confirmed by the Senate, although there are a handful of exceptions to this rule (e.g., the Office of Management and Budget Director, and the United States Trade Representative). The core White House Staff appointments do not require Senate approval. The staff of the Executive Office to the President is headed by the White House Chief of Staff.

The Executive Office of the President includes personnel who directly support or advise the President of the United States and are not members of the Cabinet.

The White House: Energy

Recently Completed Improvements:
President Bush plans to initiate a significant modernization of the buildings on the White House grounds, providing energy savings for years to come. These include the following:

- Install motion switches for lights in conference rooms.
- Eliminate the use of portable heaters unless minimum conditions cannot be met.
- Remove halogen lamps of 100 watts or more from EOP buildings.
- Building Engineers will regulate temperatures based upon the temperature and humidity relationship

The Bush administration has installed three solar energy systems on the grounds of the White House. The first of these, a large 8.75 peak-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system, was installed on the National Park Service maintenance building located in the southwest corner of the White House grounds. On the same building, a residential-scale solar water heating system was installed to provide hot water for landscape maintenance personnel.The third installation is a five-panel, building-integrated solar hot water system on the White House cabana next to the presidential pool and spa.

The White House: Ceremonies

Vermeil Room: Ladies' Sitting Room
State Dining Room: Seats 140
East Room: "Public Audience Room," Party Room
Entrance/Cross Halls: Used As Promenade/Area To Greet Guests
Diplomatic Room: Ambassadors Arrive To Present Credentials
Blue Room: Diplomatic Reception Room
Rose Garden: Formal Outdoor Ceremonies

The White House: Food Production

The Facts:
The White House kitchen started in Nov. 1800
5 Full time chefs
Can serve 140 guests
Can serve appetizers to over 1000
1 Main kitchen
1 Family kitchen
1 Diet kitchen
1 Food taster- Zell Miller (Dem.) Because of Terrorist threat
No French recipes / method of cooking
Ingredients from GOP contributors (Coke, Dunken Donuts, Dole, etc.)
“American” recipes
“Freedom Fries”
Menu changes each presidency
Menus are for State dinners (First family is not restricted to these menus)
Thanksgiving turkey is on average 45 lbs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The White House: Security/Secret Rooms

I know I was doing...nuclear things too but I couldn't find a whole lot besides some facts about a secret room in the east wing. If you need more specific nuclear security facts let me know and I'll dig around.
-Amelia, live from Las Vegas, NV

Security at the White House

General Information:
-Pennsylvania Avenue is closed to all public traffic, which is a hotly debated subject among civic planners
-The White House is now currently closed to the general public on a limited basis. Tours must be booked ahead of time and arranged background checks are now necessary.

Secret Service:
-The White House is guarded by the Secret Service
-Organization began in 1860
-They sometimes wear attire (tuxedos, blue jeans, etc.) to blend into their surroundings
-They control every aspect of presidential security on and off the White House grounds
-The Secret Service are responsible for protecting the following:
-The White House
-The Main Treasury Building
-The President and immediate family members
-The temporary residence of the VP
-The VP and immediate family members
-Diplomatic missions in the DC area and throughout the USA

“The White House Plumbers”:
-A covert investigative unit established during the Nixon administration
-The purpose was to cease the leaking of classified information to the media
-They were involved in investigating the Watergate break-in and scandal

Secret Rooms:
-President’s Emergency Operation Center
-Purpose was to handle nuclear situations
-Withstands 20 psi of nuclear detonation blast
-Located below the East Wing
-White House Situation Room
-Located in the basement of the West Wing
-Utilized for most other situations
-The Map Room
-Established in WWII by Roosevelt
-Safe haven for secure plans to be looked at by Roosevelt and Churchill
-Replaced by the Situation room

The White House: Grounds

-The grounds are owned and cared for by the National Park Service

-The grounds crew consists of 13 regular staff, including 8 gardeners and 3 foremen

-A 9 kilowatt PV system covers the roof of the grounds maintenece facility and directly feeds solar-generated power into the White House distribution system, providing electricity wherever it is needed.

-There are two separate solar thermal systems on the grounds- one for the grounds maintenece facility and gives hot water to maintenence personnel, and the other is a roof-integrated thermal array built into the new roof of the First Family’s pool cabana and provides domestic hot water for the cabana, heats the outdoor presidential spa and also helps heat the outdoor pool.

-All of these solar technologies were put in during the Bush administration after the encouragement of the National Park service

-Thomas Jefferson originally graded and planted most of the grounds

-The oldest trees remaining on the grounds are Magnolia grandifolia planted by Andrew Jackson

-An overall design and master plan was done by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. under FDR in 1935, and it mostly remains the same

-There were several large greenhouses built outside of the West Wing in the mid to late 19th century and were taken down by Theodore Roosevelt, who moved growing of all plants outside (Several White House greenhouses still exist, but are located around the city and not on the grounds)

-The Kennedy administration added the White House Rose garden on the west side and the Jacqueline Kennedy garden on the east side.

-The Mid-Atlantic Flood of 2006 toppled several large trees on the grounds, including the White House Elm, which can be seen on the $20 bill

The White House: Press/Communication/PR

White House Communication Agency:
Provides communication to the President and his entourage both in Washington and worldwide during normal, and Emergency situations.

Office of Global Communications:
Formed in 2002 to convey America’s message to the world, by integrating the President’s themes and the Administration’s policies into strategic overseas communications. That message is:

“This is America’s agenda in the world. From the defeat of terror, to the alleviation of disease and hunger, to the spread of human liberty, we welcome and we need the help, advice and wisdom of friends and allies.”

US Government Printing Offices:
Responsible for the production and distribution of information products and services for all three branches of the Federal Government in all mediums.

White House Office of Communications:
Est. by Nixon in ‘69 the main focus of the organization is to control the agenda of the media.

White House Press Secretary:
Primary Spokes person for the administration. Hosts daily press conferences with the Press Corps stating the daily agenda and stand of the administration, followed by questions.

White House Press Corps:
Group of journalists or correspondents usually stationed at the White House to cover press briefings and press releases.

White House Press Room:
Located in the West Wing between the offices of the Press Corps and the Press Secretary, it is where the White House Press Secretary, sometimes accompanied by the President, gives daily briefings to the Press Corps.

Communications Director:
Responsible for developing and promoting the President’s agenda and leading the President’s media campaign.

Fun Fact:
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country, seamlessly integrated into news broadcasts, without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

The White House: Emergency Evacuation/Adaptation

Continuity of government in the United States
Each facility is counterpart to its peacetime equivalent.
  • Site R (Raven Rock) -> The Pentagon (Department of Defense): Site R's facilities are designed to handle 3,000 people and include sophisticated computer and communications equipment, a reservoir, medical and dental facilities, dining hall, barber shop, and chapel.
  • Mount Weather -> Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The 200,000-square-foot facility also houses FEMA's National Emergency Coordinating Center, which operates twenty-four hours a day, tracking worldwide disasters, both natural and manmade. The underground bunker includes a hospital, crematorium, dining and recreation areas, sleeping quarters, reservoirs of drinking and cooling water, an emergency power plant, and a radio and television studio that is part of the Emergency Broadcasting System.
  • Camp David -> Executive Office of the President: Camp David serves the President, providing the First Family and their guests with a healthy, safe and uniquely private place to work or relax. During times of conflict and strife, from World War II to more recent events, Camp David has offered solitude and tranquility. A majority of Presidents have used Camp David to host visiting foreign leaders.
  • Unknown -> United States Congress (The Greenbrier was to be used until 1992, when it was decommissioned): The bunker is 64 feet (19.5 meters) beneath the West Virginia wing of the hotel and includes a complete medical clinic, a dining room a television studio, communications and cryptographic equipment, decontamination showers, and a "pathological waste incinerator." The facility includes separate chambers for the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as a larger room for joint sessions. These are located in the "Exhibit Hall" of the West Virginia Wing, which includes vehicular and pedestrian entrances that can be quickly sealed by 20-ton blast doors.

The White House: DC Transportation

The Capital Region are is easily accessible from the I-95 corridor which dissects the area.

I-95 becomes I-495 (The Capital Beltway) and encircles Washington, DC and the inner suburbs of Virginia and Maryland, providing easy access to Washington and suburban attractions.

Air Access:
The Washington, DC area is served by three major airports.
1. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport located along the Potomac in Arlington provides domestic flight access into the city.
2. Dulles International located at the border of Fairfax and Loudoun County, Virginia provides both domestic and international access form throughout the world.
3. Baltimore Washington International Airport is located between Washington and Baltimore along the Baltimore Washington Parkway.

Bus and Rail Access:
Amtrak provides service into downtown DC at union Station located near the US Capitol.

The Amtrak Auto train terminal is located at Lorton in Fairfax County, Virginia. Here passengers can off load their automobiles form departure points served by the autotrain to tour the capital area by auto.

Getting Around The Capital Area:
For safe, clean easy access to the attractions in Washington, DC nothing beats the regions rail transportation system known as Metro which serves The District of Columbia , Northern Virginia and the Maryland D.C. suburbs.

A comprehensive bus transit system also operates throughout the metro area.

Regional rail service is also provided in Northern Virginia by the Virginia Rail Express and MARC in Maryland.

Old Town trolley provides shuttle transportation between the major attractions downtown and in Virginia.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The White House: Waste and Trash Disposal

Waste and trash disposal can be broken down into four main categories: yard, paper and office supplies, furnishings, and hazardous waste. Recycling is also an important part of this arrangement, where a program has been established to deal with aluminum, paper, newsprint, furniture, batteries, light bulbs, paint solvents, and ink cartridges. Bins are also available in living areas and staff is educated about the recycling program.

Landscaping is a significant element of the property. Yard waste and shredded documents are composted and reused on site. Furthermore, document waste is mitigate by the use of two-sided prints, automated travel documents, and recycled paper. When regarding the disposal of hazardous waste, it is done in accordance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Agreements on procedures, inspections, storage, spilling equipment, and recordkeeping have been established. The décor of the White House, for both for permanent use and temporary events, greatly contribute to the generated waste. Repairing furniture is favored over buying new products.

From paper to large events, waste and trash disposal plays a significant role in the management of the White House and its activities and over the last fourteen years there has been a large effort to improve this system.

Greening the government through waste prevention, recycling and federal acquisition has extended this endeavor to include the entire federal government. This initiative promotes recycling and the purchase of recycled content products for the daily business of government agencies. Education and awareness plays a large role, where green websites and recognition strategies have been promoted, including the White House Closing the Circle Awards Program and

The White House: Tourism

  • In 1790, President George Washington signed act of congress declaring federal government would reside in a district “ not exceeding 10 square miles “
  • Location decided by George Washington and city planner Pierre L’Enfant, was 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
  • Architect was James Hoban. Construction started in October 1792.
  • First president to live in house was John Adams in 1800
  • The White house is the only Head of State residence that is visited by the public free of charge.
  • Thomas Jefferson held the white house inauguration in 1805.
  • Sections visited are: Blue Room, large entrance hall, Cross hall, Grand Staircase, East Room, Green Room, library, Red Room.
  • Self guided tours: visiting hours are 7:30 am to 12:30pm Tuesday through Saturday.
  • White house visitor center, open 7:30 am to 4pm seven days a week.
  • Public transportation strongly advised, no on street parking.
  • New England school trip organized by Student tours Inc. cost $450, for 3 day visit of DC including bus fare.

The White House: Home of the First Family

White House as a home appears more like a five star hotel: the conditions are made as comfortable as possible.
  • It is spacious: Second Floor is reserved for the private use.
  • Four private bedrooms and a dressing room are reserved for the president.
  • For recreation: tennis court, jogging track, swimming pool, movie theater and bowling lane.
  • In the basement: a war time shelter for the president and first family.
  • White House Chief Usher: the head of household staff and operations. He develops and administers the budget for the operation, maintenance, and utilities and supervises the staff. He serves at the pleasure of the president
  • A third floor contains a solarium and guest rooms, and staff bedrooms.

In this case home is a place of representation and a status symbol. The monumental status of the building reduces the homelike feeling of it. As a home the White House lacks the qualities of privacy and intimacy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The White House: Security

Before I leave town, heres the some basic info on the secret service and some other security stuff. I'll be sure to keep researching...

White House Security and Other Topics

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Conversation with Ken Payne, Moving to the White House

On October 16 the Studio met with the former Director of the Rhode Island State Senate Policy Office to discuss the relationsip between design and policy making. Both disciplines are concerned with problem solving – that is identifying a desirable future condition and then plotting out how to get there.

Following the conversation the students determined to use the occasion of this election cycle, and the symbol of the white house in order to develop a more public platform for the discussion of these issues.

Monday, October 15, 2007

In the News: "Space Based Solar Power Fuels Vision of Global Energy Security"

September 19th, 2007

"BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado – The deployment of space platforms that capture sunlight for beaming down electrical power to Earth is under review by the Pentagon, as a way to offer global energy and security benefits – including the prospect of short-circuiting future resource wars between increasingly energy-starved nations."

Full article here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In the News: "We're literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up"

-James Howard Kunstler, 2003

For free, here is "The End of Suburbia," an excellent documentary on peak oil and how we'll have to change and/or cope.

I've just started a new 'sketchblog'. Check it out:

Monday, October 8, 2007

Studio-Wide Approaches Brainstorming Session

On October 9 the Studio worked with guests (experts, designers, etc) to explore a number of approaches to take:

1. Adoption of the Wedge Strategy and Stabilization of carbon emissions to 2005 levels.
2. Another approach to controlling carbon.
3. Adaptation to Sea Level Rise and Climate Change (Settlement and Agriculture)
4. Global Health Issues (which may be exacerbated by climate change)
5. Peak Oil as a more immediate concern (and a possible solution)
6. The Wild Card

Thanks to Kurt Teichert, Brown University, Peter Gil Case, Truthbox Inc, Heather McGowan, RISD, Laurencia Strauss, Artist & Designer, Wil Yoder, the RISD Solar Decathalon, and Students from Brown, Matt Grigsby, Design Awareness.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Precedent Board

Precedent: Genyzme Building

The Genzyme Building set a standard for environmentally responsible architecture by creating a building that is communal and environmentally favorable. The central atrium, efficient air circulation, remarkable use of natural light, and glass exterior are significant elements of the building.

As a successful project both in its ecological and economic benefits, it serves as a physical example of how business can benefit from addressing environmental concerns. Furthermore, it elegantly blends multiple elements to create an effective system.

Precedent: Montana's Syn Fuel Initiative

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is proposing that the United States lessen its dependence on foreign oil by powering its cars with a coal-based synthetic fuel, or SynFuel. This fuel would be produced using the massive coal deposits underneath the eastern half of Montana, which compose roughly a third of the coal reserves in the entire country. SynFuel runs far cleaner than normal gas and diesel, and also leads to improved engine performance.

Precedent: Tourism

-In 2005 there was a worldwide increase in tourism of 5.5%, following a 10% growth in 2004. With the following increases : Africa, 8.5%, Asia and the Pacific 4.3%, the America’s 3.8%,Europe 2.4% ,and Middle East 1.5%.

-International tourism generated $2 billion a day in 2005, totaling at $680 billion for the whole year. At least 70 countries earned more than $1 billion from international tourism.

-With the increase of tourism, the three main consequences (I have researched) include depletion of natural resources, physical impacts on the destination, and the additional pollution.

-CATCH 22- Tourism not only contributes to climate change, but is affected by it as well. Climate change is likely to increase the severity and frequency of storms and severe weather events, which can have disastrous effects on tourism in the affected regions. Some of the other impacts that the world risks as a result of global warming are drought, diseases and heat waves.


Improved environmental management and planning- By planning early for tourism development, damaging and expensive mistakes can be prevented, avoiding the gradual deterioration of environmental assets significant to tourism.

- Raising environmental awareness.

-Protection and preservation

-Regulatory measures

-Volunteering abroad

Precedent: Emissions to Biofuels Technology

Greenfuels Emissions to Biofuels technology uses algae to recycle carbon dioxide from the stack gases of power plants and other commerical sources of continuous CO2 emissions. Specifically designed pipes capture and transport CO2 emissions coming out of the stack. The gas is then transferred to specialized containers holding algae.

we care because the algae absorbs 80% of CO2 emissions and then can be converted into biodiesel or ethanol- creating two amounts of energy with one pollution.

pics coming soon!

Precedent: Green Roofs

Green roofs are roofs of a building or house that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a water proofing membrane. They are a really affective way of cooling down a a city. It also beneficial because is serves as a insulating membrane to a building or home from the sun's rays and water damage. There are two types of green roofs, and intensive roof, which is much deeper and recuires more maintance, and a extensive roof, which is only 2-4 inches deep and is more self-sufficient.

Green roofs should definitely be supported, maybe they could even be tax deductible, similarly to hybrid cars are now on the market. As far as the wedge, this could forfill the reforestation technology, which would be created by establishing around 300 million hectares of plantations on non forested land.

Precedent: Car Sharing

Car sharing is a system with a fleet of cars is jointly-owned by users but different than car rental or privately owned cars. A democratically-controlled company, the Carshare Operator or CSO, organizes costs and troubles of vehicle purchase, ownership and maintenance. Participants or users of this system are typically in urban areas where main transportation needs are met by public transportation, walking or cycling. The car sharing system is part of the New Mobility Agenda which challenges old ideas of practices in the field of urban transport and make fuller uses of mobile transport.

How it works: Most companies charge a monthly fee plus additional fees per hour te case is in use and per mile used. A vehicle is reserved in advance through the internet or telephone. Members are responsible for returning the vehicles on time to the agreed parking area in good condition for the next user.

Goals: To help ease congestion of busy city streets and parking lots. Car sharing also reduces dependence on cars and increases usage of more environmentally friendly forms of transportation.

Advantages: Car sharing members have access to a variety of different cars to fit their specific needs without having to deal with maintenance and car repair.

Disadvantages: Must have adequate density of users so vehicles can be well used. Must be placed in an urban area where users can easily access pick up locations. Best if supported by public transportation.

Facts:Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 30 percent of households that join City CarShare sell a car. Even more household members delay purchasing a car. Transit use, bicycling, and walking also increase among members.<

It's pretty much the greenest way you can drive. A UC Berkeley study conducted in 2003 showed that each person who joins City CarShare saves nearly 100 gallons of gasoline each year, on average. When you add it all up, our members have saved over 1,000,000 gallons of gas.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Precedent: Peak Oil

1. Peak oil might make it necessary for society to adapt to a world with no cars.
2. We care because a change like no fossil fuel vehicles would mean that our who societal infrastructure would have to change accordingly.

Precedent: BIG

Research project for Danish Architecture Center

BIG believes that todays environmental issues are not political, economic or even ecological - it is a design challenge! They have designed HySociety, an urban super block that contains a cross section of Denmark boiled down to a living and working setting for 1500 people in which all currently available environmental technologies are being used in the most economically profitable way.
By following the natural propensity of each program BIG has organized the entire 100 000 square meter block so that each program claims its optimum position in the whole. The optimum location has been determined by solar orientation, urban adjacencies, proximity to symbiotic neighbours and requirements for access, views, scale, sunlight etc.

Big has traced the circulation of electricity, heat, water, oxygen and hydrogen on their way through different programs. All outputs are automaticly redirected to where they are wanted. All excess recources are taken to the hydrogen plant, where H20 is split into H2 and O2. The resultant heat is used for hot water and the hydrogen for fueling cars.

Precedent: Michael Singer

Michael Singer is an artist who has completed numerous large scale public works projects with interdisciplinary teams of professionals. He has put together teams of architects, landscape architects, engineers, planners, and scientists to re-think assumptions about power plants, waste treatment facilities, and other places that can be negatives in a community. With a non-formulaic approach, the teams have designed power plants and waste treatment facilities into accessible, educational places that become an amenity to the surrounding community. Singer places importance on forming an "urban regenerative network" and the "ecology of place"- an eco-sustainability network that makes up everything we do. Major projects include the CELE Master Plan in Phoenix, the Alterra Institute in the Netherlands, the Grand Rapids Floodwall in Grand Rapids, MI, and the AES Cogeneration Facility in New Hampshire.

Design Precedents

So who is designing the future? The examination of specific projects shows that change is achievable, and inspires us to consider more comprehensive solutions.

We designed our way into this mess, we will have to design our way out of it.”

John Thackara

In the News: Vaclav Havel's Approach

"I’m skeptical that a problem as complex as climate change can be solved by any single branch of science. Technological measures and regulations are important, but equally important is support for education, ecological training and ethics — a consciousness of the commonality of all living beings and an emphasis on shared responsibility."

Our Moral Footprint
VACLAV HAVEL, New York Times, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Alternatives Board

Alternative: Malaria

Malaria is currently one of the world's largest public health problems, especially in poor undeveloped areas. With global temperatures increasing and local climates changing because of carbon emissions, it is likely that there will be more breeding grounds for mosquitos, resulting in more malaria cases.

Malaria can be deadly, but the sickness and malaise caused by the disease create unmeasurable losses to local economies due to missed work days and loss of investment in a region. Most people who actually die of malaria are children or people with weakened immune systems. Malaria is curable, but only if treated promptly and requires access to drugs and health care. Prevention methods remain the best way to avoid malaria. Preventative drugs are expensive and mosquito habitat destruction and insecticide spraying require organized, time-consuming efforts.

One of the cheapest, most effective ways of preventing malaria in poor regions with weak infrastructure is the distribution of insecticide-dipped mosquito nets. Education and efforts to make treatment drugs more available and affordable can also help.

While a vaccine has not yet been discovered, options are being tested and researched. Some organizations participating in global malaria control (Roll Back Malaria, Malaria Foundation International) have suggested that putting more funds towards malaria efforts and less towards AIDS could save more lives with less money.

Alternative: Educate Consumers

Educating consumers is a highly effective way to raise awareness of important and pressing issues of the world. Some of these issues include AIDS/HIV, malaria, poverty, global warming, breast cancer, and smoking. An awareness campaign is an example of a strategy used in consumer education. Some known campaigns include: An inconvenient truth, a movie with Al Gore as an advocate, for making poverty history, and to stop smoking.

Some tactics used in these campaigns include: confrontation, media exposure, company sponsor, product advertisement, and celebrity endorsement. The use of multiple tactics usually results in a more successful campaign.

Alternative: Change Purchasing Patterns

Recycle materials you use and buy recycled products!
Recycling saves resources, decreases the use of toxic chemicals, cuts energy use, helps curb global warming, stems the flow of water and air pollution, and reduces the need for landfills and incinerators.

Case study: As USA’s number-one specialty coffee retailer, Starbucks goes through a lot of cups, 1.9 billion of them. Environmental Defense calculates that Starbucks’ move to use new hot cups with 10 percent postconsumer recycled paper will achieve the following annual environmental improvements:
Resource savings // Equivalency
11300 fewer tons of wood consumed // about 78000 trees
58 billion BTUs of energy saved // enough to supply 640 homes for a year
47 million gallons of wastewater avoided // enough to fill 71 Olympic-sized swimming pools
3 million pounds of solid waste prevented // equivalent to 109 fully-loaded garbage trucks

Use durable goods!
Bring your own cloth bags to local stores. Replace plastic and paper cups with ceramic mugs, disposable razors with reusable ones. Refuse unneeded plastic utensils, napkins, and straws when you buy takeout foods. Use a cloth dishrag instead of paper towels at home, and reusable food containers instead of aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

Buy energy-efficient products!
When buying new appliances and electronics, look for the highest energy-efficiency rating. The most energy-efficient models carry the Energy Star label, which identifies products that use 20-40 percent less energy than standard new products.

Case study: According to the EPA, the typical American household can save about $400 per year in energy bills with products that carry the Energy Star. Refrigerator typically accounts for 20 percent of the electric bill. On the average, new refrigerators and freezers are about 75 percent more efficient than those made 30 years ago, so investing in a modern refrigerator can cut hundreds of dollars from your electric bill during its lifetime.

Switch to compact flourescent bulbs!
Each compact fluorescent bulb will keep half a ton of carbon dioxide out of the air over its lifetime. Though compact fluorescents are initially a lot more expensive than the traditional bulbs, they last ten times as long and can save $30 per year in electricity costs.

p.s. My sheet contains quite a lot of text, so here I did some editing, if you need the whole text, I can e-mail it to one of you.

Alternative: Curitiba's Bus Rapid System

Curitiba is a role model for it's Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) system. Curitiba has a population of 2.2 million people, and 70% of the commuters use the BRT system. It is one of the most heavily used, yet low cost, transit system in the world.

Based on 1991 survey the system effectively caused a reduction of 27 million auto trips per year, saving about 27 million liters of fuel annually. (28% of BRT users traveled by car) Curitiba uses about 30% less fuel per capita, making it one of the lowest rates of ambient air pollution in Brazil. Today 11,00 busses makes 12, 000 trips everyday, serving more than 1.3 million passengers, 50 times the number from the 70’s. User friendly- Citizens only spend 10% of their income on travel, which is much below the national average.

Alternative: Adapt to Sea Level Rise

Present - 22 South Pacific island nations and territories, home to about 7 million people, are in danger of being swallowed by rising sea levels. Many Pacific Islanders do not consider the threat of rising seas to be merely scientific theory: many thousands of islanders are currently witnessing their small islands slowly disappearing.

Present Course - While conservative estimates maintain that sea levels in New York City could rise 18cm by mid-century, other estimates maintain that levels could increase by as much as 60cm. With a rise in sea levels, some parts of the city will become permanently submerged, and the city as a whole will become far more prone to flooding.

Potential Course - The Netherlands has a complex system of dams which keeps out the rising seas. Though 24 percent of the country is below sea level, the threat of flooding has been mitigated.

Alternative: Flood Control

Pictures for alternatives group (Nat Strosberg)

In the News: What will happen in 2100....

Alternatives to the Wedge Strategy

In 2004 the Copenhagen Convention (founded by Bjorn Lomborg), identified what they described as the most productive areas for global investment that would result in the long-term improvement of human life. Carbon mitigation policies, like the Kyoto protocol ranked very low. If we take Lombord’s point in Cool It, the Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming “we need to remind ourselves that our ultimate goal is not to reduce greenhouse gases or global warming per se but to improve the quality of life and the environment (p. 9).” From this point of view global diseases, sanitation, free trade and clean government might prove to be more meaningful investments.

At the same time, many scientists believe that even if we are able to hold carbon emissions at present levels we will still have to deal with significant climate change. As a studio we should consider 1. other methods to reduce carbon, 2. adaptation to climate change, and 3. better places to to onvest our limited resources.

In the News: The WalMart Environmental Moment

The “Wal-Mart environmental moment” starts with the C.E.O. adopting a green branding strategy as a purely defensive, public relations, marketing move. Then an accident happens — someone in the shipping department takes it seriously and comes up with a new way to package the latest product and saves $100,000. This gets the attention of the C.E.O., who turns to his P.R. adviser and says, “Well, isn’t that interesting? Get me a sustainability expert. Let’s do this some more.”

Lead Follow or Move Aside Thomas Friedman, NYTimes

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wedge Strategy Boards

Wedge Strategy: BIOfuel

a fuel produced by mixing vegetable oils, fats or greases with an alcohol (usually methanol but sometimes ethanol) and a catalyst.

Biodiesel is a cleaner burning fuel than diesel, with lower emissions, notably the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Most commercial biodiesel is made from soybean oil, and some is already mixed in with diesel to reduce emissions.

an alcohol fuel made from distilling sugars in crops

a gasoline blend with 10 percent ethanol -- E10 -- is widely used to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. Minnesota now requires that all gasoline contain at least 20 percent ethanol.

a blend that contains 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol. Most gas stations that sell E85 are in the Midwest, where the corn is grown.


Sugar cane:
Brazil is the leader in production.

largest crop in US recieves goverment incentives.

The darkest tones are crop land and the middle tones are pastureland.

Just one wedge worth of carbon-neutral biofuels would require 1/6th of the worlds cropland. If all the corn production went towards biofules it would account for only 10% of transportation needs. It is feasible for this to help mitigate the carbon problem, but it needs to work in conjunction with all other processes. The answer is in ethanol made from switchgrass. Corn is not the answer and sugar cane is great except where it can grow is limited. Switchgrass is a weed and can grow anywhere; crop or pasture land.

Wedge Strategy: Increasing Vehicle Efficiencies

The easiest way to reduce fuel consumption is to make the cars lighter. The amount of energy needed to move material is directly related with the total weight of it. By reducing size and weight of cars we can optimize and make use of the infrastructure we already have.

With all the modern products people pay for less weight, laptops, mobile phones, mp3-players etc. are getting smaller and lighter all the time. From this point of view it is very unusual that when it comes to cars people pay for heavier structures. The reason for this is that in transportation people think it is safer to have a big car. A heavy car may be safe to its passengers but to everything outside the moving ton of steel is a leathal projectile that in order to feel safe one needs even heavier vehicle. And also does a car need a rear seat bench when it carries an average of just 1,2 occupants in urban traffic?

In order to meet the goal of cutting carbon emissions we need to make cars lighter and smart as well. Smart so, that if the driver is not driving properly the car could take over the control. These automatic security features would enable us to reduce a lot of weight because we wouldn’t need the safety measures anymore.


In the process of rethinking cars substitutive materials play an essential role. For example duraluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber or carbon nanotubes are materials to replace steel. Nanotechnology enchanged cars will be stronger than steel ones. This helps to reduce the crucial weight of cars and in the same time it helps to protect the passengers better. Frozen textile structures used in aerospace engineering offer pre-thought answers that just need to be adapted to automobile manufacturing.

When thinking about transportation of goods trucks should be versatile. Many modern trailers are fit to carry different kinds of loads but cooling trailer can’t transport unbotteled milk or gasoline. Specialization can be very limiting. This is were flexible containers come in handy. If fluids and gasses were stored in “bags” they could be transported with the same trailer that could hold anything. Also when considering the ecological point of view it is profitable to reduce the empty truck weight and by doing so increase the potential payload aswell. The only way to drasticly reduce truck weight is to apply composite technology. The faculty of Aerospace Engineering of the Delf University of Technology has developed “Cold Feather”, a prototype of a refrigerated trailer that is 3000 kilograms lighter than traditional cooling trailer.

There are some other examples as well. A Dutch company Prins Dokkum is developing fibre reinforced polymer trailer wheels that are about 45% lighter than aluminium ones and 64% lighter than steel wheels. There’s also been made a composite city bus that weights 999 kg.

Another existing technology is the hybrid car. It is a vehicle which combines a conventional propulsion system with an on-board rechargable energy storage systems. Reduced wear on the gasoline engine means reduced emissions. In addition the use of hybrid cars reduce noise emissions from substantial use of electric motor at low speeds. The city of New York started converting its taxi fleet to hybrids in 2005. In July 2007 375 hybrids were in use. The mayor plans to convert 20% of the remaining 13000 taxis each year.