Paris Fills Skylines with Rooftop Farms

paris-skyline

Paris has taken the farm out of the field and planted parts of it onto its rooftops to make the city greener and more sustainable. This summer, metro operator RATP became one of the first companies to host a commercial farm on one of its roofs.

A sudden breeze carrying gentle notes of basil and mint envelops pedestrians walking by the RATP building at Place Lachambeaudie in the 12th arrondissement, a middle-class district located in the east of the French capital. Some passersby quickly lift their noses to try to figure out exactly where the fresh and appetising scents are coming from, but none seem able to locate the origin.

The scents are coming from the top of the grey and arch-shaped office building where Michel Desportes and Théo Manesse have been spending the better part of the afternoon harvesting row upon row of various types of organically-grown herbs ranging from violet-coloured basil to chocolate-and-banana-flavoured mint.

“It’s growing so much at the moment that we have to harvest every day,” Desportes, one of the founders of the start-up Aéromate which runs the farm, tells FRANCE 24. Bees and ladybugs constantly buzz around the plants, seemingly oblivious to the traffic and pollution on the streets down below.

The farm was started in July this year after a 2016 call by the City of Paris for a series of urban agriculture projects to make the city more environmentally sustainable. By 2020, Paris aims to have transformed 33 hectares, or 330,000 square metres, of its unused urban space into urban agriculture.

Although the commercial Lachambeaudie farm, which sprawls over a 450 square metre area and houses up to 5,000 plants, mainly focuses on growing fresh herbs, it also offers some seasonal fruits and vegetables. At the moment, this includes several different species of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and lettuce. This winter, Aéromate plans to cultivate crops like watercress, spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and artichoke. Everything is grown hydroponically, a hydroculture method developed by the Inca and Aztec Indians and in which the plants are grown without any soil by using only mineral nutrient solutions in water solvent.

The decision by RATP to install and invest in the farm is part of its corporate mission to contribute to a more sustainable Paris. The group, which owns several buildings in the city, has identified 1.4 hectares (14,000 square meters) that it plans to transform into cultivated grounds by 2020.

“We wanted to do something with our unused rooftops – up until now they haven’t really served any particular purpose – and this concept turned out to be just the right thing for us.”

Aéromate is currently setting up a 180-square-metre farm, also on the roof of real estate group Tishman Speyer, at Place de la Bourse in central Paris, and is planning for a third commissioned by the City of Paris at the nearby Place de la République.

Aside from selling the herbs and produce to staff of the companies that own the buildings, Aéromate also offers its harvest on online platforms such as “La Ruche qui dit oui!”, which connects local producers with consumers directly. Aéromate has also begun doing business with local restaurants and bars, of which two of its current customers are Michelin-starred eateries. As the business grows, Aéromate expects to harvest up to 31 tons of herbs, fruits and vegetables each year.

“It feels good to work up here. I feel lucky to be surrounded by all these green plants while actually working in the centre of the city,” Desportes says.

 

Source: France 24

Smart Cities: The Future Way of Living

smart-cities

Article written by Arvin Varshney

How often have you wondered what a smart city was? How often do you get asked the same question? Most likely you’d say: more often than I’d like.

Most attempts to define smart cities start with features of smart cities and end up how they work. India’s Smart Cities Mission says: ‘There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people’. This is not entirely incorrect, but neither is it helpful.

This article will give you a definition which can be used universally and it will not only help you visualise smart cities better but also help you plan for one in a structured way.

Smart city is the solution

Contrary to the hype a smart city is not a different genre of cities! It is only a notion, a concept. It came into being as a result of the need to urgently adapt our existing cities to meet the fast emerging needs of exploding urban population and fighting climate change. The notion of smart cities represents nothing but urban renewal, on steroids though. It can also be applied to new greenfield cities.

The idea of existing cities becoming smart is seen as the best way to resolve the problem. But what is a smart city?

Simply put, when you leverage technology in the governance of a city to achieve a set of pre-determined goals (purpose) you get a smart city.

So what does that really mean?

Essentially, there are three components in a smart city:

1. Technology,

2. Governance, and

3. Purpose.

Let us discuss all three. The Purpose first.

Purpose

The cities today are in the danger of failing under the pressure of exploding urban population. Main roads are bursting at their seams due to heavy traffic and all infrastructures is overloaded. Shortage of power and water plagues the city. Sewers overflow. Waste disposal is inadequate. Housing is scarce. Slums are mushrooming. And crime is on the rise. All this contributes to the deterioration of the social and ecological environment. The threat of climate change makes the situation further challenging.

While this seems like a common description of most cities, the intensity of challenges varies from city to city. Congestion of traffic might be a big challenge in Bangalore, Beijing might have air quality as the biggest challenge and Delhi might want to have water supply secured as one of the high priority challenges. Every city would have a different set of goals with some that seem like being pursued universally such as become resilient to climate change, become energy efficient and improve quality of life for residents.

Technology

We often think of the internet as the technology but it is the oil and the gel at the same time which brings all the elements of technology together and runs them smoothly. The technology consists of two other things:

1. Hardware includes appliances, sensors, and other physical tools and machinery

2. Software runs the hardware, creates interface between people and machines such as apps, internet tools

We are witnessing an explosive growth of new technologies— from GIS, communication, IoT, Big-data, LIDAR, mobile applications to exploration of earth from space. These technologies are not only unlocking massive streams of data but also have massive potential for use in all walks of life, including in the design and building of cities-with or without planners’ involvement.

It is essential to develop and utilise emerging technologies so that this significant change will be made in a sustainable way not doing so is an opportunity wasted and ignoring the answers to all the questions that we haven’t yet asked.

Governance

We need our cities to be resilient and environmentally sustainable and offer wellness and quality of life along with other objectives that might be specific to different cities. But every city government/administration has the mandate to pursue those goals. What sets a ‘smart city’ apart from a business-as-usual (BAU) city is how it is governed. In other words—how decisions are made in a smart city. These decisions range from how it should be designed, to how and what policies should be made, and how it should be run on a day to day basis. And this is where the most visible aspect of smart cities comes in—the technology.

On the face of it may seem like the technology is making things happen which it is. IoT devices embedded in street light poles sense the flow of traffic along a set of roads and let the traffic light at their junction know when to turn green or red. Another set of devices secured to trash bins across the city lets the cleaning team know when the bins are full and need emptying. In addition to performing these functions, they are also performing a more important task which is often not conspicuous to most city dwellers. And that task is collecting and generating data. And lots of it.

Google is world’s most valuable company not because of what it does but because the data it possesses. Facebook is rich because of the data it has. Walmart, world’s largest retailer not only sells all sorts of stuff to people but also collects data about them: who buys what, when, how often, who spends how much etc. Companies and organisations that collect and use data to govern their strategies and actions not only create unprecedented efficiencies in operations because of swift and relatively less error prone decision making but also new streams of revenue earnings.

Time has come when cities need to do the same. Only those that are doing this are ‘smart’. Indeed data is at the core of smart cities. The data comes from measuring as many aspects of an urban ecosystem as possible; it generates a huge volume of data from a plethora of sources as a result. Data, on how people move throughout the city, how and where they consume resources, what facilities they are converging on etc.

By measuring these factors, the city’s infrastructure can address issues with minimum human interaction with least amount of time lag. If sensor read high level of pollution level next to a location with traffic congestion drivers could be automatically diverted to an alternate route.

Conclusion

So the notion of smart cities is really a management + policy response to the inadequacy of current cities to accommodate the exploding urban population, with the strategic intent to take advantage of technology that is available to us.

When technology and governance combine to achieve certain goals for a city’s future the quality of ‘smartness’ emerges in the city. A city cannot be perfectly smart or not be at all smart as we don’t know the limits of ‘smartness’, it is an emergent characteristic.

While technology is the most ubiquitous means to achieve the desired goals, governance is the operative component of a smart city, with data collection and its judicious use in decision making is key to smart governance.

Source: LinkedIN

7 Senior Nutrition Facts

Eat your vegetables. Drink plenty of water. Grains are great. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And whatever you do, eat a balanced diet that takes a little from each of the five food groups.

These are just a few of the rules about eating that many people learn as children. And for the most part, they work pretty well — for kids.

But as people age, their nutritional needs change. Older adults need more of some things, like calcium, and less of others, like overall calorie intake. While each person’s specific dietary needs depend largely on personal tastes and overall health, there are some Golden Rules of senior nutrition that people in their Golden Years should try to follow:

Eat two to three servings of fruit each day
Eat two to three cups of antioxidant-rich leafy greens every day
Consume at least 1,200 mg of calcium daily
Choose whole grains over processed white flour.
Eat about a gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.

If older adults follow these general rules of senior nutrition, they’ll likely be eating a healthy, balanced diet that should help them live longer and stronger, have more mental acuity and feel better. Unfortunately, not everyone follows these guidelines. Too often people find themselves falling prey to some common senior nutrition myths, which are as untrue as they are unhealthy. Here’s a look at seven common myths about senior nutrition and the facts that dispel them:

Myth #1: You need fewer nutrients once you reach your 60s
Fact: It is true that older adults typically need fewer calories than young adults. However, older adults actually need more of certain nutrients, including vitamin D and B12. This is because the body’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight decreases significantly over time. In addition, the body’s ability to absorb B12 also declines. So while seniors may need fewer calories and less of certain nutrients, they also need more vitamin D and B12.

Myth #2: Excess weight isn’t a problem for older adults
Fact: Excess weight and obesity is a serious health concern for all Americans — including older folks. Being overweight not only makes you less likely to enjoy an active and energetic quality of life, it also raises your likelihood of developing a range of chronic illnesses including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Myth #3: It’s OK to skip meals
Fact: Even though many senior citizens experience a loss of appetite, it’s not a good idea to skip meals. Skipping meals comes with its own set of problems, including causing blood sugar levels to fall too low due to a lack of nutrients or shoot to dangerously high levels when you finally do eat.

Forgoing meals can also paradoxically cause your lack of appetite to increase. So the best thing to do is to eat something nutritious — even just a little something — at every meal.

Myth #4: You only need to drink water when you’re thirsty
Fact: People need to drink water before they feel thirsty to avoid dehydration, which can be extremely dangerous for seniors. Dehydration can be caused by medications, a lack of thirst (which is common in older adults) and decreased kidney function. If it happens to you, you could suffer from confusion, difficulty walking, a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and other health problems.

Myth #5: Seniors don’t need to worry about nutrition
Fact: It’s never too late for anyone to start eating healthier. No matter your age, you can reap the benefits of eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, the right amount of protein and lots of water. Just as for younger adults, the better you eat, the better you’re likely to feel.

Even if you have already developed nutrition-related health issues such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, you can still improve your quality of life and reduce the symptoms by eating right.

Myth #6: Supplements are sufficient
Fact: People should not live off of vitamins and supplements alone. And even if you could, what kind of life would it be? People who rely entirely on supplements often experience side effects including constipation, diarrhea and even malnutrition.

Plus, relying too heavily on supplements for your nutrition means you’ll be more likely to miss out on one of life’s greatest pleasures: dining with friends and family.

Myth #7: Eating alone is fine
Fact: Many older adults who eat alone every day experience increased instances of loneliness, stress and anxiety. Older adults who eat alone are also less likely to eat healthy, balanced meals, a UK study found.

Older adults who eat alone miss out on all of the camaraderie and conversation that takes place around the table when people are sharing a meal with friends, family and other loved ones.

Article published by: Huffington Post

New Era of Food Production in NYC

food production

New Yorkers are trying to have legislation passed that would help bring in a start to urban farming to New York City. Local Brooklyn resident Adam talks about the importance of food production change and how vertical farming would help the community as well as expand healthy food availability to the crowded city. Below is an excerpt on why New York needs this change and how it can benefit communities across the United States.

If a tree grows in Brooklyn, so too can a cherry or a cucumber. Now imagine a crop large enough to feed our entire city.

When New Yorkers go to their local grocer or supermarket, we often see produce imported from other states or countries. There is no reason why the majority of our natural food products cannot be grown and sold right here in the Big Apple. For an urban center as large as New York City, we must be prepared for the challenges of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, a changing ecological system, and the need to supply healthy food to an ever-growing population.

At the same time, we face a crisis of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity of epidemic proportions. The growing urban agriculture movement around the world, estimated at between 15% and 20% of global agricultural output, has the substantial potential to revolutionize our city’s food system and turn a page on protecting our health and environment while bolstering the economy.

We have the ingenuity at hand to take advantage of the plentiful space in the five boroughs, to make this 21st century dream a reality. New York City has rehabilitated unused space before, most famously with the High Line. Our city has 14,000 acres of unused rooftop space, and there are more than 45,000 square feet of publicly owned land in East New York alone. With the use of smart, cutting-edge technology, we would be able to grow enough to feed as many as 20 million people in the metropolitan area.

As New Yorkers, we need to think boldly about the many benefits of expanding urban agriculture. Cities contribute to 70% of the world’s global greenhouse gases, and a City Hall analysis from last year found transportation accounts for nearly 30% of our own output.

Local food production means less trucking required to go in and out of our neighborhoods, reducing the amount of carbon emissions pumped into our city as well as relieving stress on our highways. Green roofs and gardens used to grow produce pump oxygen into the air and cool down our environment, while playing a major role in reducing the runoff and flooding that heavy downpours create. Our environmental future is at stake, and urban farming helps us grow a more sustainable and resilient city.

In Brooklyn, food insecurity and poverty are compounded to create an economic and health crisis. A 2016 report by FoodBankNYC showed Kings County has a food insecurity rate of 20 percent, the only borough with a rising trend since 2009. Lacking basic healthy food access contributes to high levels of preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. African-American and Latino communities across central and eastern Brooklyn are twice as likely to suffer from these debilitating and deadly diseases.

There’s even a condition known as Flatbush diabetes; that says it all.

Urban farming is the key to solving this problem, creating mixed-use neighborhoods where this kind of horticultural industry could thrive. The aquaponics market alone is expected to expand over the next five years at an annual rate of 14.3%, generating a value of more than $900 million by 2021. Thinking beyond the traditional expansive farms of America’s heartland, the technology exists to grow crops and careers on unused spaces in the heart of New York City.

Think of the broad potential. We can even establish high-yield farms on our many public housing developments, creating jobs in communities plagued with chronic unemployment, educating a new generation in healthy living, and providing access to fresh foods right at residents’ doorsteps.

The buds of this revolution are growing, but commercial and industrial scale urban farming is tangled in the weeds of bureaucratic uncertainty, making implementation that much more difficult. While scientists and agro-experts have done their jobs of innovating, government has not caught up.

Sophisticated vertical farming operations can be more efficient and profitable, but our zoning laws leave open many questions as to where these businesses can operate. For example, current regulations prohibit growing and selling produce on the same lot regardless of what the lot is zoned. In fact, the zoning text only mentions the word “agriculture” on a handful of its nearly 4,000 pages, thereby making this practice permissive but vague at best. This uncertainty stifles growth.

That is why we are proud to introduce City Council legislation that would rationalize this industry through the creation of a comprehensive urban agriculture plan in New York City. Our legislation would catalogue existing and potential growing spaces, classify and prioritize uses, identify potential land use policies that would favor expanding agricultural uses, as well as expand the availability of healthy food in low-income neighborhoods by integrating this practice across the city’s conservation and resiliency plans.

This plan is the seed to robust growth. Let’s cultivate a multi-million dollar industry here in New York City with a harvest of economic, environmental, and health benefits that we can all share.

Source: NY Daily News

From Agrihood to Suburb

the cannery

The Cannery-Tom Fox-1471.jpg

The Cannery, a new planned development in Davis, California, is located on the site of a 1961 Hunt-Wesson factory, which canned its last tomatoes in 1999. Today, the Cannery’s only link with its industrial past is the name. The new 547-unit development is an ode to the locavore lifestyle.

Developed by the conventional (high-end) homebuilder the New Home Company, it has a community clubhouse designed to look like a traditional white farmhouse, and its own five-acre organic farm, which will sell some of the produce to residents. “It’s an interesting model for how you might introduce agriculture in places that might not have had it before,” says Joe Runco, principal at SWA, the firm that did the master planning and landscape design. “The farm is small enough to be part of the neighborhood, but it’s also more than a community garden.”

Planned developments that incorporate a farm are known as “agrihoods” and are catching on across the country. “They’re becoming the new golf-course community,” says Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, who estimates there are about 200 such neighborhoods around the country. “They represent the values of Millennials—a convergence of food, health, local ties, and the sharing economy.”

The Cannery shows how all the pieces can fit together within a project that checks off many New Urbanist boxes. There’s a small retail/commercial center, and residents can walk or bike to downtown Davis, which is about a mile away. Only a third of the housing will be single-family homes; a range of townhouses, condominiums, and apartments should attract a multi-age community. The density of 5.5 units per acre (or 8.6, minus the farmland and parks) is higher than the 3 to 4 units per acre of traditional suburbs—although only slightly. The townhouses are selling for upwards of $400,000 and the single-family homes for $700,000 and up; agriburbia doesn’t come cheap. But with 60 units of affordable housing, the development will have some economic diversity.

For planners and land conservationists, agrihoods can be a useful tool for preserving existing farmland. Earlier communities, like Prairie Crossing in Illinois and South Village in Vermont, were established to ward off wholesale development. “Planned developments are a zoning tool that is well-suited to development-supported agriculture, since they allow for effective master planning and combinations of diverse land uses that are difficult to achieve with traditional, Euclidean-style zoning,” says Jennifer Henaghan, deputy research director at the American Planning Association. The Cannery was just named “master-planned community of the year” by the National Association of Home Builders.

The Cannery had open fields along its eastern border, so was required to have a buffer. The developer could have put in landscaping, but opted to create a narrow farm instead. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of the farm is an important part of the puzzle. Some agrihoods have long-term leases with commercial farmers. Another model is to set up “incubator” farms that allow new farmers to launch their careers on a small scale. The Cannery’s farm is under the stewardship of the Center for Land-Based Learning, a local nonprofit that trains farmers. It will lease the land to its recent graduates.

The idea of being vicarious farmers is deeply appealing to future residents like Mylon and Samrina Marshall, doctors who have lived in Davis for 20 years. “We don’t have a green thumb,” says Samrina, “but we love going to the farmers market and eating locally and what is in season.” After moving in this summer, they hope to get one of their staples, organic heirloom tomatoes, from their own neighborhood farm. It’s a vision of the good life that is primed to reshape many American suburbs.

The Cannery-Tom Fox-1445.jpg

 

Source: CityLab

The Canals of Paris are Swimmable Again!

paris-canals

This past month, Paris has opened up its urban waterways for safe, clean public swimming. Paris’s Mayor Anne Hidalgo opened-up new open-air swimming enclosure in the Bassin de la Villette, a basin constructed for barges that links the Canal de l’Ourcq with the Canal Saint-Martin in the city’s inner northeast. In temperatures of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, Parisians lined up to splash about the three new pools fed directly from the canal’s waters, separated from the watercourse’s general flow only by filter meshes to keep leaves and other objects out.

Up to three hundred people at any time can use the lifeguard-protected pools, although the pools only have locker space for 80. Located in a part of Paris already popular as a place to stroll in fine weather, the new bathing spot is likely to prove a major hit in an already hotter-than-average summer. Early reports suggest that the water is indeed delightful, though a small residuum of green algae does make a post-bathe shower a good idea.

Paris has been working on cleaning up the waters here for decades. Paris’s canals here were once unsurprisingly filthy, running as they do through a former industrial area once packed with cargo barges and polluted by sewage. Since the 1980s, however, regulations managing industrial run-off have tightened substantially, while Paris has invested heavily in wastewater treatment and in preventing sewage from being discharged into the canal during periods of high water. Two years ago, following a concerted clean-up, bacteria levels dropped below safe levels, and rogue bathers have been jumping in the water here for a while. Meanwhile, the Canal Saint Martin, which runs downstream from the basin down to the Seine, was entirely drained and cleaned in 2016, a process that sent a powerful visual message to Parisians that the area’s historic filth was being swept away.

It’s no mean feat to ensure that waters like these running through the heart of a megacity of 12 million people are clean enough to swim in. Paris has declared it won’t stop here: By 2024, it wants the Seine to be swimmable, as well as the Marne, the river that feeds into it via the city’s canals.

Source: CityLab

China is Building the World’s first Forest City

china-forest-city

China is notorious for having trouble with air pollution, but now they are trying to come out with an innovative solution.

Italian architect Stefano Boeri’s colossal ‘forest city’ scheme – a newly built metropolis that will ‘eat’ its own toxic smog with one million plants and 40,000 trees. The idea is to challenge preconceptions that urban density intensifies air pollution, by creating a new blueprint for city design that integrates plants into its construction.
100 different species of plants are planned to grow on balconies and roofs of the city’s skyscrapers, lining 175 hectares along the Liujiang River in Southern China. Once completed, the shrubs will breathe in fine dust from the air, catching and soaking up pollutants from the toxic environment. When the city is fully grown, it will be able to absorb almost 10,000 tons of CO2, 57 tons of pollutants per year and produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen annually.

The new green city in Liuzhou will reportedly host 30,000 people, with hospitals, schools and fast electic rail services all part of the construction.The project was commissioned by the Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning and will be constructed in the north of Liuzhou along the Liujiang river. The construction of the green-city-in-the-making is currently underway and will be finished by 2020. Occupying 432 acres, the Liuzhou Forest City will be roughly half of the size of the Central Park in New York. There are also plans to fit geothermal and solar energy resources, so the city runs on a green and self-sustainable power source.

Italian architect Boeri, who has previously designed two vertical skyscraper ‘forests’ in Milan, said: “The diffusion of plants, not only in the parks and gardens or along the streets, but also over building facades, will allow the energy self-sufficient city to contribute to improve the air quality (absorbing both CO2 and fine dust of 57 tons per year), to decrease the average air temperature, to create noise barriers and to improve the biodiversity of living species, generating the habitat for birds, insects and small animals that inhabit the Liuzhou territory.”

If successful, the forest city could be a blueprint for other countries where air pollution is an issue.

Source: Standard UK

Food is a Human Right, Not a Product

food-human-rights

Article by Emmanuel Faber

Food is not a business like others. Food is not a commodity; it is not a consumer good – It is far more important. It is a human right, so defined by the United Nations.

We know the global industrial food system did miracles to broaden food access and reduce hunger. But it is reaching its limits. We are the first generation that consciously lives with them: obesity and malnutrition. Waste of food and water. Soil depletion. Climate change. Forced labor. Lack of women’s empowerment. The solitude of farmers. The crowds of migrants. They are all interconnected issues and related to the fact that the food system has disconnected people from their food. Many kids and even adults don’t even know the link between meat and animals, between fruits and trees. And this is a problem.

Emmanuel Faber believes that the founding vision set for his company by Antoine Riboud, inspired by discussions with the young generation of the May ‘68 French revolts, is the right one for our company: a dual project of both economic value creation and social progress. Antoine had a lifetime commitment to this vision, followed by his son Franck, who, in two decades as CEO of Danone, revived the Carasso family’s vision of yogurt as a health product and led us to create a unique portfolio of health-focused food and water brands.

Starting with taking care of the people: Since a decade, Faber has designed a unique global health insurance program, benefiting 70,000 employees in 25 developing countries. He aims for Dan’Cares to cover our 100,000+ people, and possibly more. He also launched a unique, gender-neutral Parental Policy earlier this year.
We are wholeheartedly convinced of how critical the first 1,000 days of life are. We have therefore pledged to fully empower all women in their choice of nutrition and to support breastfeeding. That has changed the way Faber and company operates Aptamil, Nutrilon and all of his local brands. They have pledged to make their breastmilk substitutes available to low-income families in a not-for-profit model.

We know such models can exist because a decade ago, we invented social innovation platforms to make “One planet. One health” a reality, starting with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Danone Communities’ “social business” to bring access to water and nutrition. Our Danone Ecosystem Fund builds skills, social and economic opportunities for people in our food and water ecosystems, from farmers to street vendors and landfill scavengers in 70 countries. Livelihoods, a CO2 credits-powered investment platform, supports farmers to plant trees, helping them to create a sustainable living and connecting them on global supply chains. We already work with partners on these platforms, but they could be grown much further at scale.

Because in many countries consumers are shifting away from conventional food and retail and are exploring alternatives. This is putting pressure on the short-term performance reported by the large food and retail companies. Short-termism is a risk higher than ever, whilst what is at stake is the balance of efficiency and sustainability across time horizons. Should we surrender on the transformation to address the revolution and just focus on extracting capital out of our businesses, making a few even richer and a darker future for many?

Last week in Berlin, the Consumer Goods Forum Summit gathered around “global learnings from local successes.” Rightly so, as local food brands keep gaining share against global brands every year. People believe local is a way to reclaim their right to food: This is the lesson to be learned. In France, Faber’s government is bringing together, next month, a critical nationwide, multiparty conference on Alimentation, a word Danone uses to describe food sovereignty, and which encompasses cultural relevance, transparency and fairness.

So, now is the time when those who dare to believe that food sovereignty should be the goal of this industry — like Danone and many others — should start to more broadly support and be catalysts of change for people to reconnect with their food. Because food is a human right.

Faber and his companies are trying to have an entire generation change and be known as the Food Generation.

Source: Sustainable Brands

Valuing Rooftop Gardens

Article by Warwick Savvas and Sourceable

rooftop gardens

As our cities become increasingly denser, the available area for living outside, whether it be public or private open space, becomes more precious.

We are surrounded by more and more concrete, glass and steel. Ground level green space is also being lost as a consequence of medium and high density developments. Governments try to counter this through their planning regulations which often dictate that developments provide a required amount of ground level open space. However, overall the result is a nett reduction in green space in our cities.

The planning regulations also try to improve the quality of our urban spaces by mandating a stepping back of buildings from the street frontages. This can contribute to improved streetscapes, but results in a reduction of lettable floor area as the levels go up. People are intrinsically predisposed to surround themselves with living plants. Biophilia is a well-studied phenomenon that has been demonstrated to improve human well-being. When people move into a new development, they often express this desire by cramming in as many pot plants as they can to fill their outdoor terrace spaces. This is not only the case for many multi-storey residential developments. There is also a growing trend towards including greenery throughout new commercial workplaces and retail spaces.

Unfortunately, unless the building owner and/or tenants are committed to tending these sky gardens, the plants invariably die. Like some on-ground landscapes, greenery at height that is ad hoc and not integrated into the form and fabric of the urban environment, if it is reliant on manual irrigation, is unlikely to survive in the medium to long term, especially given the harsh California weather. All too often the living green is replaced with dead brown and the pots eventually get removed.

Rooftop Gardens

But what if the development was to integrate these features into the project from the beginning? Rather than being an afterthought, the terrace garden could be an integral part of the living space. Much like the best of all good architectural design, integration of indoor and outdoor space is possible at height. The roof terraces resulting from the planning scheme set back requirement, rather than being windblown, hot and hard paved spaces, could be lush garden rooms that increase the property value.

Rather than having a barren balcony terrace around the lunchroom-kitchen of an office development that no one ever visits, it could be a soft and comfortable space that gets used every day.

Creating these living green spaces need not be difficult or expensive and provided they are designed well and integrated into the overall project, they will be relatively low maintenance. As more and more of these projects are successfully realised, the technology and methods of establishing greenery at height improve to ensure success.
The greenery, as well as increasing property value, also provides many other benefits.

Some of these are tangible, such as the reduced temperatures caused by the shading and evapotranspiration effects of plants. Living systems also contribute to management of storm water by retaining water on site and removing contaminants.

Other advantages are less tangible, such as mental health benefits of being close to plants.

OUR APPROACH:

At Farm Urbana we help provide urban farming to rooftops, making these living green spaces valuable in keeping local grown food reachable to tenants and the community.

Most food is shipped from miles away across the country, and that creates transportation, storage, energy and pollution problems; by having communities grow their own food locally, they are consuming fresher more nutritious produce.

Farm Urbana is about providing the freshest fruits and vegetables while raising awareness for lifelong health and wellness, inspiring, and educating people to create economically sustainable neighborhoods.

Top 10 Smart Cities in North America

Today’s cities demand 21st century solutions to accommodate their growing populations in ways that not only maintain the quality of life, but also improve it. That’s where smart cities come in. Smart cities find ways to become more efficient, to deliver more services via mobile technology, to optimize existing infrastructure, and to leverage citizen participation to create better land-use decisions and to break down bureaucracy in order to stimulate a creative, entrepreneurial economy. Here are the top ten smart cities in North America:
smart city seattle
1. Seattle, WA
Seattle led the pack in Smart Economy and Smart Government rankings while coming in second behind Washington, D.C. in the Smart People category. Seattle is also home to lots of sustainability innovation and the home to the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, one of the world’s leading master’s program dedicated to sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship.

2. Boston, MA
Boston has an incredibly smart and innovative population, boasting more than 70 universities and leading North America in both patents per capita and venture capital investment per capita. Boston’s former mayor Thomas Menino was a big driver in the innovation agenda through the launch of the Innovation District, the creation of the Office of New Urban Mechanics, and support for acceleration programs, like the MassChallenge.

3. San Francisco, CA
The Bay Area entrepreneurial ecosystem is moving away from Silicon Valley and towards San Francisco itself. Much like Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, San Francisco has a mayor’s office dedicated to civic innovation. Of course, for years San Francisco has been a leader in embracing sustainability and smart urban development as evidenced by their regular spot in the top of North American green cities rankings. San Francisco reports having 302 LEED certified buildings, which would place them in the upper echelon of North American cities.

4. Washington D.C.
Experts in the smart cities seem to agree that smart mobility is critical to improving the quality of life for citizens while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from the transportation sector. D.C. came out in second behind only New York in the use of biking, walking, and public transit (54.6%) for daily commuting.

5. New York, NY
New York has pioneered the adoption of electric vehicles, embraced green and smart urban regeneration, and fostered a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem (Silicon Alley). New York has a significant number of universities and university-educated population and has been a leader, through outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to initiatives like C40, in promoting the low-carbon economy.

smart cities

6. Toronto, CANADA
Toronto continues to be a leader in Canada across several fronts. Like other major cities on this list, Toronto has continued its commitment to smart densification with its ongoing transformation of its previously contaminated waterfront area.

7. Vancouver, CANADA
Vancouver recently developed an ambitious $30 million plan to become a major player in smart cities by focusing on nine key priorities ranging from more open data and increased digital services delivery to the launch of an ICT incubator.

8. Portland, OR
Portland has long been a leading player in the green cities arena, with innovations such as green roof standards, home an office of the paradigm shifting Living Building Institute, and also pioneering the development of eco-districts. On the mobility front, they have a fantastic set of clean, accessible public-transit options, particularly within the city.

9. Chicago, IL
Chicago is dedicated to being a green building leader, and with 405 certified LEED buildings, they are putting their money where their mouth is. Chicago also has an ambitious bike-sharing program, with 4,000 bikes and 400 solar-powered bike stations.

Montreal

10. Montreal, CANADA
Citizen engagement is critical to smart cities. In 2010, Montreal passed a bylaw which allows anyone who obtains 15,000 signatures to trigger a public consultation process on any topic. The first group of citizen activists to leverage this process obtained 25,000 signatures to generate an open public debate about how to support the increasing use of urban agriculture.

Source: FastCoexist