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USGBC launches LEED for Neighbourhoods

After a two and a half year pilot the USGBC has launched it’s LEED for Neighbourhoods (LEED ND), further moving towards sustainable buildings and cities. The program, which has been piloted across the US and Canada, including the south side of Chicago, is an important step forward in sustainable city planning. For more information visit their website.

Open house: New wetland green roof uses grey water in NYC

The Linda Tool and Die Corporation is hosting an open house to see their green roof this May 3rd, 2010.

Time: Monday, May 3rd, 5:00-6:00PM
Location: Linda Tool & Die Corporation, 123 Dwight Street, Red Hook
Guide: Paul Mankiewicz, Executive Director, The Gaia Institute

Come see the only process water/greywater treatment green roof in the world, featuring a native wetland meadow overlooking the lower New York Harbor.

Source: NYDailyNews

Nature contributes to mental and physical health

A new paper published by John Wiley & Sons in Spirituality and Health International discusses the link between contact with nature and mental and physical health.

Author:  Professor Jules Pretty, Centre for Environment and Society and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester C04 3Sq, UK.

Abstract: Irrespective of where we come from in the world, it seems that the presence of living things makes us feel good. There are three levels of engagement with nature. The first is viewing nature, as through a window, or in a book, on television or in a painting. The second is being in the presence of usually nearby nature, which is incidental to some other activity, such as walking or cycling to work, or reading on a garden seat or talking to friends in a park. The third is active participation and involvement with nature, such as gardening or farming, trekking or running. There is now strong evidence that all these levels deliver mental health benefits. The evidence also suggests that green spaces and nearby nature should be seen as a fundamental health resource. Physical activity is now known to be a co-determinant of health. Yet there has been a dramatic fall in physical activity in recent decades, with severe health consequences. Exercising in the presence of nature (green exercise) thus has important public and environmental health consequences. Copyright © 2004 Whurr Publishers Ltd.

For the link to the publishers page click here:

Green City initiatives increasingly common; showcased in World Health Day

On April 7th the the World Health Organizations’ World Health Day will focus on urbanization and health. The campaign encourages cities to “open public spaces to health,” such as clean up or urban park activities. Leading examples from cities across the world will be featured in their “1000 cities- 1000 lives” campaign, and cities can sign up on the World Health Organization website.

Many U.S. cities are already embarking on campaigns to make their cities greener, from vegetated roofs to bike sharing campaigns and composting. Montreal, Paris, and Washington, DC are some of the most recent cities to implement a bike-sharing program.

Many cities are also implementing composting, with one of the newest converts being San FranciscoToronto has also had enormous success with its green bin program.

For those interested in getting an overview of green city initiatives, they can check out Planet Green’s “Green City Guide.”

For more information check out an excellent website: Finding Dulcinea.

Developers unsure about new green roof legislation in Toronto

Developers are concerned about the new green roof requirements just passed by the City of Toronto in May 2009. Part of their concern is that the green roof requirement will force them to forgo other green options. They are also concerned about the increasing height of many Toronto office and residential towers and the fact that green roofs have not been tried on structures that high. What is interesting is that Toronto, unlike Chicago, is the first city to mandate green roofs for ALL new large project buildings (though Chicago was able to mandate green roofs for buildings which they contributed funds towards or which needed public approval). For the full story, click here.

Green retrofits heat up Canadian real estate market

Toronto Dominion Centre to undergo green retrofits
Toronto Dominion Centre to undergo green retrofits

Faced with competition from new office space which will be LEED accredited, many Toronto landlords are retrofitting their office buildings in an attempt to remain competitive. Landlords and building managers are responding to both increased tenant interest in a buidings environmental performance and energy and operation savings. Toronto currently has more retrofitting in its downtown core than in other parts of Canada because of the large amount of new office space being built. These retrofits will be linked to the new LEED Canada for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM) certification which will was introduced this summer by LEED Canada. According to research by Pike Research, the retrofit market is expected to experience strong growth in 2013 and beyond. For the full story, click here.

New green roof on subway station in Toronto

In May 2009 Toronto became the first city in North America to require green roofs on all major new developments.  Though in the works for three years, the new green roof being constructed at the Eglinton West subway station will be the first green roof on top of a subway. Constructed by Gardens in the Sky Inc, the green roof is visible from the Allen road expressway, which is a heavily-used north-south artery from the 401 highway. The green roof will be a 9,000 square foot garden constructed from sedum plants in removable trays. In addition to improving the aesthetic value of the area, the green roof will encourage bird and insect life and reduce heat in this heavily-used traffic corridor, according to Terry McGlade, president of Gardens in the Sky, Inc. The roof will cost about $25-$30 more per square foot than a traditional roof.

NYC leads on innovative urban greenspace with the Highline

Design of Highline
Design of Highline

New York City has garnered international attention with its recent opening of the Highline park, which is a new public greenspace on an abandoned elevated rail line. The ‘park’ has a long history and is a testament to community organization and new, innovative visions for urban revitatalization and urban greening. The park has used a naturalized aesthetic to replicate the abandoned character of the line and encourage native habitat. For more information and pictures, click here.

View along the Highline
View along the Highline