29 May 2007

Green roof gets no takers

ASHEVILLE, NC — A dearth of proposals could put in jeopardy an environmentally friendly design for the new Civic Center roof that was to feature plants to absorb water and lessen heat.

read more | digg story

25 May 2007

A Shift in Focus

I have decided after days on end with nothing spectacularly interesting to blog about that I need to shift the focus of my blog just a little. While I am still extremely interested in developing a systems approach to urban greening, I think that I would actually update my blog and focus some of my thoughts if I posted more often (because the biggest reason I blog is to have a reason to write down and clarify the things floating around in my head). That all being said for the most part my I am going to start incorporating little snippets of attempting live a more environmentally conscious.

On that note here is a clip that I ran accross mention on Salon.com concerning marketing bicycles as an environmental and social mitigation technique. View the article here.

21 May 2007

San Francisco Urban Forest Mapping

So unfortunately the Army gig has kept me away from toying around with my Urban Greening/Systems Approach ideas. I did run across some information concerning San Francisco's Urban Forest Mapping Project that I found pretty interesting. Apparently the project is built on Open Source software and allows citizens to document trees that they are adding to the city's urban forest.

Check out the project here.

13 May 2007

Why a Systems Approach is So Important

While riding on the bus home from work the other day, I kept trying to think of a way to convey the importance of employing a systems-based approach to urban greening. It finally dawned on me as the bus pulled into its stop at the local Super-Wal-Mart. As you can see from the picture, some of the "greening" projects used to satisfy the city planning authorities were carried out in a less than ideal manner. Without a system-based approach to provide a framework for greening projects, projects can quickly turn into the simple insertion of trees for aesthetic effect.

On another note, I ran across another blog on urban greening worth checking out.

Also there has been another article published in the Mountain Xpress concerning logging on the Shope Creek site in Asheville, NC.

08 May 2007

Yet Another Update to Urban Greening via a Systems Approach

After playing with the Landscape Management System (LMS), I decided to check out other Forest Service research to find information that could easily be extended to Urban Greening projects. I ran across an article entitled Dimensions of Ecosystem Management: A Systems Approach to Policy Formulation. As the title might suggest the article provided some excellent insights into the necessity for using a systems-based approach to guide policy making decisions. If we accept that we have indeed approached the limits of sustainable throughout growth (i.e., we have no new land area to exploit), then we are faced with three challenges: reduce population growth, revise standards of living (consumption-to-waste ratios), and increase development technologically (sustain the production of all goods and services through increasingly sophisticated intervention)... The status quo is not sustainable. Given marked uncertainty in outcomes based on the sciences economics, ecology, and sociology, apparently the only frameworks available to policy makers are intentionality and adaptive management.

The article goes to point out further that environmental sustainability does not permit economic growth, but instead promotes economic development. The author maintains that understanding the limitations and synergistics of the human environmental interaction necessitate that we adopt a model that allows us to move up and down and back and forth in a hierarchy composed of functional relationship units (individual humans to society; individual organisms to ecosystems, ecology to sociology, past to future) that interact to form larger wholes and the properties unique to these wholes that emerge through synergy. This is a systems approach to ecosystem management that recognizes that management is but part of a much larger system.

How humanity became an urban species

Sometime this year the world will pass a landmark as over half the global population will now live in cities - and the trend is accelerating.

read more | digg story

07 May 2007

More on Urban Greening Through a Systems Approach

While floating around the internet looking for more information on designing a Systems Approach to Urban Greening I ran across the University of Washington Center for Forest Resources website. The site contained a rather tangible breakdown of how systems theory can be applied in an ecological setting and broke the systems approach into four major concepts.
  • Specialization: A system is divided into smaller components allowing more specialized concentration on each component.
  • Grouping: To avoid generating greater complexity with increasing specialization, it becomes necessary to group related disciplines or sub-disciplines.
  • Coordination: As the components and subcomponents of a system are grouped, it is necessary to coordinate the interactions among groups.
  • Emergent properties: Dividing a system into subsystems (groups of component parts within the system), requires recognizing and understanding the "emergent properties" of a system; that is, recognizing why the system as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, two forest stands may contain the same tree species, but the spatial arrangement and size structure of the individual trees will create different habitats for wildlife species. In this case, an emergent property of each stand is the wildlife habitat.
There was also a Landscape Management System (LMS) which I will be testing out over the next few days to see what applications it might have to Urban Greening.

Digg Story: McCain Claims to Live Energy Policy

"McCain Claims to Live Energy Policy"
Presidential hopeful John McCain spoke out against the Bush administration's energy policy and spoke about his use of solar panels and plans to purchase his daughter a hybrid car in order to mitigate his carbon footprint.


Eco-Extremist Wants World Population to Drop below 1 Billion

Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society advocates killing off over 5 billion humans and forcing those left to live in isolated communities no larger than 20,000 people.

read more | digg story

06 May 2007

An Update to Open Source GIS (qGIS) and the Army and LEED

Okay, so due to a busy weekend I am going to keep this brief. In addition to the last stuff I posted about qGIS, I discovered that it integrates with GPS straight out of the box (some additional function require plugin downloads). The program is designed with rather simplistic two-way communication features catered to the *.GPX file format. In addition to handling *.GPX file formats, qGIS can be integrated with GPSBabel so that non-native formats can be easily converted within qGIS. The GPX information is imported as an overlay layer and can be updated within qGIS and exported back into the memory of the GPS device.

On another topic completely, I have been hearing a lot of buzz lately about more and more cities implementing LEED building requirements on any construction of new city-owned buildings. Asheville city recently set standards on what level of LEED requirements they would be adhering to (more info). What I find most inspiring however is that the Army agreed to embrace the LEED standard over a year ago (more info). The news about Asheville setting their standard just reminded my of the Army and LEED and I just wanted to post it as I think it provides hope that people in all sectors of society are finally starting to get things.

02 May 2007

Using Open Source Software in a GIS setting

Just wanted to post a quick note about an application of Open Source software in a GIS setting. I often have to plan training simulations for my Army Reserve unit. One of the largest problems when designing these simulations is map information. The army provides rather large scale topographic maps that are more or less useless in the tight urban settings that military units so often find themselves in today.

In order to combat these problems when creating training simulations I have been using qGIS to create simple mockups from Orthographic photographs. Although qGIS doesn't yet offer the power of an ESRI product it does a pretty good job of creating a simple easy to interpret map that I can distribute to each soldier for use in a mock combat situation. This picture shows the first map I created for this context, and in the training I have coming up this weekend I hope to create a map with some sort of grid reference system. This map worked out great in giving the individual soldiers an easy to interpret reference that they could communicate about over a radio system. Also I have to throw in a shameless plug for OpenOffice, which I used to create the layout pictured.

01 May 2007

Maps in 3-D

After playing around with different mapping formats and using DEMs and hillshades, I tried porting the campus mapping project I am working on into ArcGlobe. For the most part the transition went rather smoothly. The biggest problem I has was that features that were not extruded came out blurry on the map. I fixed this by making the flat features somewhat transparent. I also had a lot of quirky issues with ArcGlobe not wanting to render the data. In the next few days I will be labeling the map and make it look more like the 2-D version of the map.