I’ve been quite interested lately in “evolutionary ____.” Evolutionary medicine, evolutionary exercise, evolutionary diet, etc – finding ways to use and take care of our bodies the way they evolved to work. So when it came time to buy new shoes, I jumped at the chance to try out what I might call “evolutionary footwear.” Vibram Fivefingers is essentially a glove for your foot that allows full articulation of your foot and toes, allowing you to walk the way that nature intended, as our early ancestors walked for miles each day. It’s like walking barefoot, but with synthetic calluses so that you aren’t in pain on scorching hot pavement or rough surfaces. So far I love them. They aren’t made of any particularly sustainable material, nor do they have much to do with dorms, but I thought I’d share.

How could we better adapt the green dorm to the Pleistocene primate lifestyle we are designed for but generally disconnected from?

SF City Hall: Now With Electric Car Chargers

car3Last Wednesday, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the addition of electric car chargers in front of city hall in what he called “the first step towards creating the electric vehicle infrastructure of the future”. The chargers are intended for the city’s electric fleet vehicles as well as electric Zipcars and other private but sustainably managed electric car companies, and Newsom hopes they will draw the public’s attention to the feasibiltiy of alternative-fuel and electric vehicles.

Although not strictly a building component, things like electric car charging stations do contribute points to LEED standards, and (I believe) the original Green Dorm Feasibiltiy Study called for charging stations to be incorporated. Seeing publicity aimed at electric cars, especially in this economic climate, is heartening, and worth keeping in sight despite being outside the stricter realm of green buildings.

Gavin Newsom on Electric Cars

4 More New Green Cities of the World

Victoria, British Columbia (Dockside Green)

Dockside Green

Dockside Green is slated to be North America's first carbon-neutral community

“Victoria, British Columbia, plans to be carbon-neutral by 2012. Its Dockside Green pro ject brings that goal closer to realization. The environmentally sustainable plans for Dockside Green combine residential, commercial, light industrial and green space on 15 acres (roughly 0.06 square kilometers) of harbor-front land.

Dockside Green is slated to be North America’s first carbon-neutral community.

How will Dockside Green achieve its goal to be the first carbon-neutral community in North America? Through a combination of green solutions for buildings, transportation, energy and waste treatment.

Let’s begin with buildings: Those of Dockside Green are being constructed with reclaimed wood from forests that were submerged by reservoirs. Energy-efficient appliances and fixtures (such as motion-sensing light switches), green roofs (rooftop gardens), and carbon footprint monitors (that allow residents to track their heat, energy and water use over time) are outfitted inside homes.

It’s unlikely you’ll find a car or two parked in driveways, either. Residents of Victoria, and now Dockside Green, take part in a clean-fuel and hybrid car-sharing program (even the cars are Smart). In addition, Dockside Green plans include bike and pedestrian paths, subsidized public transit and a harbor ferry.

Energy and waste treatment will be self-contained within Dockside Green. One hundred percent of waste will be treated on-site, and the treated water will be reused to flush toilets and irrigate gardens. A biomass-gasification plant will turn wood waste into energy for heat and hot water.

This innovative green community is under way currently, with the first of three neighborhoods opening in 2009. Upon completion, the entire community will be home to about 2,500 people.”

Source: Colenso, Maria. “5 Green Cities of the Future.” 28 January 2009. How Stuff Works. 17 October 2008.

Sherford, England

Sherwood, England

Residents of Sherwood will face strict monitoring to ensure good environmental behaviors. England plans to unveil 10 of these projects by 2020

“Sherford, in south Devon, is the eco-project of Prince Charles. It will be home to 12,000 people and is planned for completion by 2020. Royal advisors consider it Britain’s greenest future community.

The proposed community will take advantage of cutting-edge green building designs and materials but will look like a traditional English town. Buildings will be constructed with sustainable materials gathered mostly from within a 50-mile (80-kilometer) radius of the site; water and sewer waste will be recycled.

Homes and workplaces alike will put their rooftops to work. The majority of buildings will have solar powersystems, and vegetation will cover the roofs of commercial buildings. About half of Sherford’s power will be supplied from renewable sources in the community: In addition to solar power, plans call for wind turbines.

Lastly, a walkable urban layout will put residences, retail stores and industry in close proximity, reducing the need for cars. In fact, cars will be banned from some areas of the town. Did we mention new homeowners receive a free bicycle?”

Source: Colenso, Maria. “5 Green Cities of the Future.” 28 January 2009. How Stuff Works. 17 October 2008.

Photo Source: Booth, Robert. “Eco Town Dwellers may be Monitored for Green Habits.” 28 January 2009. The Guardian. 26 September 2008


Dongtan City, China     

Dongtan City, China has Already Begun Construction, and Will House 5,000 by 2010, 80,000 by 2020, and 500,000 by 2050

Dongtan City, China has already begun construction, and will house 5,000 by 2010, 80,000 by 2020, and 500,000 by 2050

“Dongtan will be a city of three villages that meet to form a city centre. The first demonstrator phase of Dongtan aims to be completed by 2010, in time for the World Expo in Shanghai, and will accommodate a population of up to 5,000. Later phases of development will see the city grow to hold a population of around 80,000 by 2020 and up to 500,000 by 2050.

The delicate nature of the Dongtan wetlands adjacent to the site has been one of the driving factors of the city’s design. We plan to protect and enhance the existing wetlands by returning agricultural land to a wetland state creating a ‘buffer-zone’ between the city and the mudflats – at its narrowest point, this ‘buffer-zone’ will be 3.5 kilometres wide.

The project will increase bio-diversity on Chongming Island, and will create a city that runs entirely on renewable energy for its buildings, its infrastructure and its transport needs. Dongtan will recover, recycle and reuse 90% of all waste in the city, with the eventual aim of becoming a zero waste city.

Green Roofs and Wind Energy are two of the Sustainable Features of Dongtan City

Green roofs, wind energy, and ecological wetland management  are some of the sustainable features of Dongtan City

Dongtan eco-city incorporates many traditional Chinese design features and combines them with a sustainable approach to modern living, but not at the expense of creating a city that is recognizable as a ‘Chinese’ city.

With the project now entering the implementation phase, SIIC and Arup have been joined by HSBC and Sustainable Development Capital LLP (SDCL) in a long-term strategic partnership to develop the commercial and financing strategy for Dongtan and other eco-cities in China. A key element of this is the Dongtan Institute for Sustainability which will initially be based in Tongji University. We hope the Institute will become one of the world’s centres of excellence for examining the connection between the environment and economic performance.”

Source:  “Ultimate Eco City.” World Architecture News. 9 April 2008.

Further Reading: McGray, Douglas. “Pop-up Cities: China Builds a Bright Green Metropolis.” 28 January 2009. Wired Magazine. 24 April 2007.


Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

“No cars, no waste, no pollution. Doable? Such a city is slated to rise from the oil-rich grounds in Abu

Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Masdar City plans to be completely carbon neutral and open by 2016

 Dhabi. Masdar, which means “the source” in Arabic, is a $22-b illionundertaking that could be the world’s first carbon-neutral city [source: Masdar].

Masdar’s sustainable urban development will take advantage of wind, hydrogen and solar-photovoltaic energy sources. Wastewater will be treated and recycled into irrigation systems.

In addition, Masdar’s transportation goals are ambitious. Fossil-fuel burning cars are banned from the city in lieu of an electric personal light-rail system — small, programmable cars that run only when you need to go somewhere, and a pedestrian-friendly city layout.

Masdar is already under construction and will develop over several phases, with completion expected in 2016 [source Inhabitat]. Up to 50,000 people are expected to live in Masdar, and the first residents will likely move in sometime during 2009 [CNET].”

Source:  Colenso, Maria. “5 Green Cities of the Future.” 28 January 2009. How Stuff Works. 17 October 2008.

Photo Source:

Green Cities Close to Home

Treasure Island, CA: Who Knew?

An artists depiction of the planned Treasure Island green development

A Depiction of the Planned Treasure Island Development

Treasure Island, halfway across the Bay Bridge and in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, is an artificial island built in 1939 to house the Golden Gate World Expo, then to be converted into the San Francisco Airport. During World War II, however, it was purchased by the Navy and still bears barracks and other remnants of its militant past. However, in recent years San Francisco City Planners have begun discussing plans to make the island, along with its neighbor Yerba Buena, into a sustainable city. The design calls for many eco-friendly design ideas, including LEED certified buildings, a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly urban center, public recycling and composting programs, wastewater recycling, urban farms, and solar, wind, and tidal powered electricity generation. A large drawback of this development is its seismic location, given it’s man-made history, which presents a large possibility for liquefaction in the event of a major earthquake.


For more information see…

Popular Mechanics: Why Treasure Island is the Super-Green City of the Future

Daily Galaxy: Super-Green Citiy of the Future

How Stuff Works: 5 Future Green Cities

Tesla – Oh, yeah.

So, I’m sure most people reading this will already know of Tesla Motors, the sexy, sleek, bankrupt company out of San Carlos. This article is about the release of the new Sport model of its car. It’s short, and not very informative. What is interesting, however, is the debate posted on the cnet forums. This is just one of dozens of such forums that I’ve seen, but it gives a pretty good idea of arguments for and against the company.

As a bit of background, Tesla has recently asked the government for a portion of the $25 billion that has been set aside by the U.S. Department of Energy to be used for developing more efficient cars. Anyway, here’s the link:

Man, it looks so good.

Man, it looks so good. We should get these for the green dorm.