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Archive for the ‘ENERGY’ Category

DredgeFest_GreatLakes_Flyer-02 If you missed DredgeFestNYC and DredgeFest Louisiana (see “The Dredge Underground,” LAM, August 2014) then you haven’t experienced one of the most interesting landscape-focused gatherings around. Fortunately, another chance is just ahead at DredgeFest Great Lakes (DFGL) this August. DredgeFest draws a friendly and curious crowd across a wide spectrum of expertise to look critically at dredging and the land it winds up making—and there are many overlaps with contemporary landscape architecture practice.

This event (conference doesn’t really describe it) will focus on the Great Lakes region (aka the Third Coast in dredgespeak). It will include two days of talks and presentations from a range of designers and others who work in this industrial practice; a day of touring dredge sites around Duluth; and a weeklong workshop at the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture and Department of Landscape Architecture that brings in a very intriguing international cohort of designers.

This third iteration of DredgeFest should be the best yet, with the now-signature mix of intense investigations and industrial monumentality with the speculative edge that has marked previous DredgeFests.

Landscape Architecture Magazine is a cosponsor of DFGL this year. We’re looking forward to inhaling the fascinating new research and meeting folks in Minnesota this August. Registration for one or all parts of DFGL is open now.

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On February 28, Under the Dome: Investigating China’s Smog, a documentary about air pollution in China by Chai Jing, was released. In less than a week, the video received more than 200 million hits before it was taken down by the Chinese government. The video breaks down the composition of pollution and why it is harmful, the health effects on the human body, the most common sources for China’s pollution, the government’s roadblocks to reform, and the history of rapid industrialization and consequences experienced around the world–in Europe, for instance. There are even striking parallels to practices found in the United States, reminding us that we have a ways to go to curb our own fossil-fuel dependency. The video is 103 minutes long, and the content is well worth watching for an in-depth look at just how bad the pollution situation has become in China.

Above is a playlist of the documentary segmented into 8 videos. For the full-length documentary, please visit here.

 

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In the May issue, we  focus for the first time on lighting and landscape with the work of dynamic lighting designers in collaboration with landscape architects. We look at projects by M. Paul Friedberg with MCLA, Ken Smith and SHoP with Tillotson Design Associates, PWP and Michael Arad with Fisher Marantz Stone, WRT and L’Observatoire International, and OLIN with Tillett Lighting Design. There’s also a how-to on Morpholio Trace 2.0 in Workstation, and new research on sin-free lawn grasses. Marcel Wilson talks about his young practice, Bionic. And a graphic designer takes us through the vanishing world of urban typescapes. All this plus our regular features in Species, Books, and Goods. This month’s ASLA CES is on Soils for Landscape Architecture Projects.

You can read the full table of contents for May here. As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also purchase single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio that can be read on your desktop or mobile device. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options. Keep an eye on the LAM blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating some May pieces as the month rolls out.

 
Credits: 9-11: Courtesy Fisher Marantz Stone; SteelStacks: Emile Dubuisson for l’Observatoire International; East River: John Muggenborg/www.johnmuggenborg.com; Syracuse: Steven Satori, Syracuse University; Yards Park: David Galen; Dam: MKSK; Morpholio Trace: Lohren Deeg, ASLA; Turf: Suzanne O’Connell; Owls: Courtesy travelwayoflife/wikimedia commons; 50K Trees: Sarah Moos, Associate ASLA.

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On the blog Energy Economics Exchange, Maximilian Auffhammer, a professor of sustainable development at the University of California, Berkeley, conjectures why economists, while they are flocking to the field of energy economics, are not paying as much attention to water economics. “The reason is simple,” he writes. “The data are terrible.” He expands on this point, and a few others, in an open letter/rant to his water utility, which keeps urging its customers to conserve water during the drought that grinds on in California.  We took particular note of the following:

I get a letter every three months telling me how much water I consumed. I have no idea or way to figure out how much water the drip irrigation I put in with my bare hands uses (compared to the inefficient spray system the previous owner had). Trust me. I tried. I lifted the 30 pound concrete plate over my water meter and chased away a few black widows the size of chickens to find out that my water meter is analog (yes with a needle). Even running my irrigation system at full speed for 15 minutes did not move it significantly. There must be a better way. I can monitor real time electricity load for my house using my cell phone and a rainforest gateway. It must be possible to replace the 19th century meter on my house with something that uploads consumption data to my phone. The black widows want to be left alone.


The way households are left to measure their water usage is archaic, Auffhamer taunts: “How about you roll out some real time meters and let us energy people do some experiments in your service territory!”

 

(via Brett Walton @waltonwater)

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Frack Blog 2

A Pennsylvania village. Photo by Kim Sorvig.

We’re pretty jazzed that the venerable Utne Reader picked up our article on fracking  for its March issue. “Welcome to Frackville” by Kim Sorvig appeared in the June 2013 issue of LAM, and it’s part of Utne’s themed issue on global climate and environmental issues. Utne’s recognition of Sorvig’s piece helps to underscore the ways in which the work of landscape architecture is becoming increasingly critical to cities, regions, and nations that are feeling the effects of fast-unfolding environmental issues and climate change. Here, Sorvig heads to Pennsylvania to try to piece together the many facets of fracking in the landscape.

The ground is pockmarked with pads and pits, the sky aflame with waste gas flaring from tall stacks, visible for miles. “I’ve been to public meetings where drillers say they don’t want to flare; they’d rather be more green,” White says. But new wells are still flared for the first few weeks, when gas may be contaminated. Lack of pipeline and storage capacity may also result in burn-offs. Below us, a flare towers directly over a high-school running track.

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The Fluid and the Solid TRAILER from Alex + Ben on Vimeo.

If you haven’t used the term “Anthropocene” much, you can be forgiven. The term is of fairly recent origin, and it’s used to describe what some believe is a new geologic age: one in which human activity has changed the earth and its atmosphere. It’s a big idea, one that catches a lot of other ideas in its net—climate change being the most powerful. The idea of the Anthropocene lends more weight to what we already understand are the consequences of human activity. Our impact is not just local, national, or global, but temporal. We’ve literally changed the scale of geologic time.

The awesome consequences of human agency on the land are tough to convey without sounding ponderous, but for the filmmakers Alex Chohlas-Wood and Ben Mendelsohn, who are interested in things like infrastructure, technology, and the human/nature interface, much of the story can be told by the landscapes where these earth-changing processes take place. Which is how they came to make a documentary nominally about dredging, dredge landscapes, and sediment flow: The Fluid and the Solid.

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By Arthur Allen

"Get your Farm in the Fight", 1941 - 1945." Courtesy U.S. National Archives.

“Get your Farm in the Fight”, 1941 – 1945.” Courtesy U.S. National Archives.

Environmental issues don’t always focus the minds of the people who write the nation’s farm bills. A 2012 report showing that corn and soy plantings had chewed up 1.3 million acres of grassland in the upper Midwest raised hardly an eyebrow in Congress. Perhaps unsurprising, it took people with guns to draw the legislators’ attention to conservation.

The warnings came from pheasant hunters, who spend $175 million a year in eastern South Dakota (“It’s fun—like shooting free-range chickens,” says one) and have grown increasingly disheartened at seeing their best hunting spots turned into rows of corn. According to a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the loss in grassland—two Rhode Islands’ worth over five northern states—occurred during five years starting in 2006.

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