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Carbon Talks

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A panel discussion on the upcoming Metro Vancouver transportation referendum
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Carbon Talks

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A smart grid-solar-energy storage project in Albuquerque, New Mexico is attempting to harness mass-market solar to balance the grid inside and outside the neighbourhood’s borders. This decades-long project is taking place in Mesa Del Sol, a mixed-use redevelopment project with plans for both commercial space and approximately 37,000 homes. The first piece of the development was unveiled just last week – a 78,000 square-foot event center, which has been set up to run its own solar power. The technology and funding come from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), which has invested about $10 million in the Mesa Del Sol project. The goal for this solar-powered microgrid is to smoothly connect and disconnect from the city’s grid, as well as to provide its power to smooth out the grid during times of peak stress. More information on the project can be found at http://t.co/Y0jLoSnO.
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Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Canon, Kraft Foods and Mazda are a handful of companies that have adopted life-cycle assessment (LCA) tools as a means to measure and track the impacts of products from the design stage to end-of-life. Rather than utilizing external LCA software, these companies have built their own unique data management systems to incorporate into the day-to-day product design. For example, designers at Levi Strauss & Co. use their LCA program, Evaluate, to understand the environmental impacts of fabric choices, washes and dyes before the design process. Other companies like Canon were able to reduce their carbon emission in its newer product lines by 30 percent, and reduce energy usage by up to 75 percent. Nike’s Considered program takes LCA tools a step further by making various versions of their assessment tools open to the public. More examples of LCA systems can be found at http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/05/22/how-levis-made-life-cycle-assessment-part-its-fabric.
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A former soap factory in Brussels, Belgium, has been retrofitted into a sustainable, social housing project. This historical building consists of forty-two suites, including studios, one- to six-bedrooms, lofts, duplexes and maisonettes. To counterbalance density, the building also offers numerous community amenities, such public spaces for meetings and events, a game room, a “Mini-forest” garden, a playground and a main promenade. Each apartment unit has a glass-enclosed bioclimatic loggia that acts as a thermal barrier while the lofts are equipped with insulation – made from natural materials like hemp fibers and expanded cork – to lower energy use. Sanitary hot water is heated by 60m2 of solar panels on the roof and rainwater is harvested for toilets. Complementing this eco-design concept, the construction of this project also has been sustainable, as many of the historical elements of the building that were deemed appropriate by life-cycle assessments were incorporated into the construction of the complex. More information on this project can be found at http://goo.gl/J7UGs.
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Have them in circles
134 people

Carbon Talks

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A panel discussion on the upcoming Metro Vancouver transportation referendum
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Carbon Talks

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To improve the pedestrian and cycle experience in the Beijing metro area, the World Bank and the Beijing Transport Research Institute (BTRC) have launched a novel web-based project utilizing Ushahidi, an open-source platform that allows any person or organization to gather, collect and visualize information in real-time. The project aims to utilize this platform and crowdsourcing methodology to provide cyclists and pedestrians a way to deliver user feedback to transport planners. This then allows transport planners to identify and prioritize system improvements. Currently, the Ushahidi platform is a smart phone app for both Android and the iPhone, but the Bank and the BTRC hope that in the near future, users will be able to collect information on cycling and walking infrastructure and report them to the transport planners via SMS, social media, or web. These mini-reports will then be mapped and visualized, available for others to view and comment on.  This innovative form of public engagement can be found more at http://goo.gl/El5vg. 
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Check this TED talks with Rachel Armstrong on architecture that can repair itself.

Armstrong convinces that all buildings that we see and use today are made using Victorian technologies. This involves blueprints, industrial manufacturing and construction using teams of workers. This process results in an inert object and that means that there is a one-way transfer of energy from the environment into homes and cities. Armstrong believes that this top-down approach is not genuinely sustainable. She explains that metabolic materials can be used for the practice of architecture as smart ‘living’ building materials.

The example that she provides in the video lecture is about preserving the historical city of Venice with protocells that “grow” into limestone, while creating ecological systems for the marine life under the city. Watch the full video at http://goo.gl/Dw4Yy.
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Vienna is another European city that has become a “smart and sustainable region”. There has been a surge in renewable investment, and drastic changes have been made in the cityscape with new bike lanes and modern trams, and retrofitted historic buildings that reduce energy consumption. The reason for this dramatic redevelopment seems to begin and end with the city’s aggressive carbon reduction policies – 80 percent carbon emission reductions by 2050, as compared to their 1990 levels. These reductions are being targeted by city agencies, and they have developed several innovative approaches to achieve their performance goals. Data investments have been one of the tools for smarter decision-making. For example, Vienna has updated their data infrastructure by establishing environmentally-friendly data centers and mandating common data platforms between local agencies. Moreover, these data investments have created a 3D mapping database, which enables city official to measure exactly how many solar panels city roofs could support.
http://www.urenio.org/2012/05/11/vienna-a-city-on-the-cutting-edge-of-the-smart-city-movement/
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The implementation of green rooftops in Nairobi is not only contributing to a boom in the Kenyan construction and design industries but also fostering the rehabilitation of an environment that has faced years of unsustainable deforestation and neglect. According to a report by Nairobi-based science journalist Gitonga Njeru, green roofed facilities demonstrated lower energy use due to the green rooftops’ insulating power, while encouraging natural plant growth. Recognizing the environmental benefits and the economic potential of green roofing, Kenyan government officials have pushed to place green roofing policies onto the political agenda. The environmental ministry has forwarded a draft law that would make green roofing become a common practice in new developments, particularly in the residential sector. Other initiatives entail the green roofing of other infrastructures, such as hotels and public buildings. Green roofing has newfound popularity in Kenya, as a green strategy that suits the country’s climate and the economic needs of a growing industry.

http://designbuildsource.com.au/green-roofs-top-african-construction-developments
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Have them in circles
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Solutions for a low-carbon economy
Introduction
Carbon Talks accelerates the shift to a low-carbon economy. We look for those windows of opportunities where “carbon shifts“ are possible. These could be opportunities identified by a business, an industrial association or a government department but where all the pieces might not be in place to move to concerted action. Carbon Talks convenes the right people around the table to put the pieces together. We are the glue that moves groups from intent to action to reduce green house gas emissions.

The transition to a low carbon economy is inevitable. If Canada is to remain globally competitive, it must accelerate the shift from a carbon intensive economy to an economy that is more diversified and recognizes the costs of natural capital.

Government cannot be expected to engineer this shift alone. The climate conferences in Copenhagen and Cancun have demonstrated that governments cannot deliver the decisive action necessary to reduce global GHG emissions. We need to develop new forms of leadership within business, civil society and academia to work with government to create the enabling environment for moving forward.

Carbon Talks provides the platform to discuss, define and manage the transition to a low-carbon economy. It creates spaces for dialogue – not debate – spaces which help people to think creatively, consider alternatives, and develop practical solutions that are viable, cost-effective and sustainable.