Mar 22, 2010

Climate change: From Crisis to Opportunity at GGLO

Alex Steffen of World Changing started us off, framing climate change opportunity with a global scale perspective and heads up about the climate change impacts we can expect. graphics of sea level rise, peak everything, from oil to other natural resources, with scarcity leading to costs of $230 per barrel of oil (EIA data). With emissions from energy use to homes and offices, Alex turned attention to the imminent impacts of climate change and necessity to change our model. Solutions of mix use that went beyond the normal uses were show in graphics: wetlands with retail space, habitat with commercial space. He talked about un-consumption over post-consumption and the lack of preparation by companies in the US. Solutions reaching back to older models-hyper localized community economies, and old ways of seeing, and valuing today and tomorrow

Liz Dunn, Preservation Green Lab consulting director and developer in Seattle spoke to good density, bad density and the role of building reuse. Liz talked about desirable people and retailers and asked why people live in cities and the need to derive policy from these reasons: Connectivity, Character, A Sense of History, Access, Variety, A Human Scale, Specialization, Openness. Fill in- where buildings are built between each other, breaking down buildings rather than building a big box, openness, a company where people work and live in the same building,. - these were some of the whole systems approaches Liz asked us to consider. Liz brought examples of studies that demonstrated the local economy multiplier –local businesses generate twice annual sales and re-circulate twice as much. Liz attributed this to “urban grain” and pointed to This View of Density - - a resource that calculates outcomes. Density of uses, people, and time (building use over 24 hours) is the measure Liz tells us to use other indicators than quare feet. Liz asked people to measure the usage of the community- ghg emission, Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), commute time, critical amenities, location-adjusted affordability, local economies. Jane Jacobs in The Economy of Cities writes about community performance.

Dennis Wilde, a developer, finished the panel with a few questions: who thinks what is the biggest challenge: climate change, population, water, peak oil, and all of the above. Dennis lectured not to look at issues in isolation. With AB 32, California’s climate change legislation requiring buildings to reduce energy consumption and our capacity to do this at question, Dennis pointed out the need for all of us to make decisions and take aggressive steps. He listed the challenges facting us: Green jobs that are living wage and local. Food that is sourced so we can feed ourselves with oil at or above 130 dollars a barrel and we do not fall into a depression.

Get Creative, Shift the economy. Make some Decisions – and take action.

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