Archivi tag: New Orleans

Salite ai piani alti.

E’ questa la politica del territorio?

Maltempo Liguria: ponente Genova, in un'ora 103 mm di pioggia

Foto ANSA

«Salite ai piani alti» è l’appello che il sindaco di Genova ha rivolto ai suoi concittadini. E’ ancora emergenza per l’esondazione dei fiumi, soprattutto nel capoluogo ligure, nel basso Piemonte, a Milano. Ancora una volta tocca ricordare quanto avvertiva già Leonardo da Vinci sentenziando «L’acqua disfa li monti e riempie le valli, e vorrebbe ridare la terra in perfetta sfericità, s’ella potessi». Lo racconta Gian Antonio Stella, lucido analista delle miserie italiche, nell’articolo “Un piano speciale per ricominciare” sul Corriere della Sera del 16.11.2014.

2014_11_19 immagine 05Stella racconta come il dramma della Liguria fosse già scritto nei reportage degli anni ’60 di Montanelli («Da Bocca di Magra al confine francese, per trecento chilometri, è un bagnasciuga di cemento») e Bocca (che aveva coniato l’espressione “Lambrate sul Tigullio“) e nel libro “La colata. Il partito del cemento che sta cancellando l’Italia e il suo futuro” di Sansa, Garibaldi, Massari, Preve e Salvaggiulo. Ricordate anche “La speculazione edilizia” di Italo Calvino (1963)? Profetico, cinquant’anni fa. Vedi anche Francesco Cevasco sul progetto dell’ex convento delle suore cappuccine di Madre Rubatto, a Sanremo, sempre sul Corriere della Sera – Il club de La lettura («C’è bassa marea morale: dal 1963 ad oggi»).

Zeitoun. Una storia di resilienza.

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Abdulrahman Zeitoun e famiglia

Ho appena terminato di leggere Zeitoun di Dave Eggers (2010). E’ un libro coinvolgente che racconta una storia personale di resilienza a New Orleans nei giorni di Katrina (settembre 2005). Quando l’uragano Katrina si abbatté su New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, un americano di origini siriane, benestante e padre di quattro figli, decise di sfidare la tempesta e di restare, per proteggere la propria casa e l’attività lavorativa di ristrutturazioni immobiliari. Nei giorni successivi si mise a girare per le strade allagate su una canoa di seconda mano, portando aiuti e viveri alle persone e agli animali bloccati nelle case dall’inondazione. Ma il 6 settembre 2005 Zeitoun sparì all’improvviso. La moglie, sfollata coi figli nel Texas, disperata cercò di avere sue notizie, nel timore che gli fosse successo qualcosa di molto brutto.

Cosa successe ad Abdulrahman Zeitoun? In questa opera di non-fiction, per la quale ha condotto ricerche e lavorato per tre anni, Dave Eggers, sulle tracce delle radici siriane del protagonista, racconta il suo matrimonio con Kathy – un’americana convertitasi all’Islam la nascita dei figli, e soprattutto dipinge magistralmente l’atmosfera surreale (a New Orleans e negli Stati Uniti) che ha reso possibile quanto è accaduto a Zeitoun [fonte: Amazon].

Una New Orleans allagata per la rottura degli argini per l’80% del territorio urbano, anche fino al secondo piano delle case , fuori controllo, devastata (danni per 81,2 miliardi $), seminata di morte (1836 persone, per non parlare degli animali) ha vissuto l’incubo della coscienza, precipitando nella violenza e nell’anarchia, purtroppo facilitate da una gestione deficitaria della situazione da parte del sistema nazionale di protezione civile (FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency, prima di tutte). Potrebbe capitare ancora? Potrebbe capitare a noi?

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Foto: densitykatrina.wordpress.com

Costruire resiliente.

Zeitoun è tornato con la sua famiglia a New Orleans e ha ripreso la sua attività edile, riportando 114 case alle condizioni in cui erano prima dell’uragano, in alcuni casi migliorandole. Ogni volta che vede una casa in costruzione, chiunque sia l’impresario, sorride. “Costruite” pensa. “Costruite, costruite, costruite” […] Sarebbe facile, Zeitoun lo sa, prendere quell’edificio, così come tanti altri, e semplicemente abbatterlo e ripartire da zero. Per un impresario edile è certamente più comodo partire da un terreno sgombro. Ma così facendo si perde molto, troppo. E’ per questo che, nei tre anni che ha passato a ricostruire, Zeitoun ha sempre chiesto, come prima cosa: “Che cosa si può salvare?”.

2014_11_19 immagine 01Una casa deve poter resistere agli eventi di questi tipo. Questo concetto di resilienza sta emergendo sempre più forte negli ultimi anni, reso urgente da un cambiamento climatico che ormai non è più discutibile, e da una pianificazione del territorio irresponsabile, come descritto all’inizio di questo post. La resilienza non è forse un elemento portante della sostenibilità? Un edificio deve essere sostenibile, certo, ma prima di tutto resistente. Anche sulla scorta delle lezioni apprese con Katrina, Sandy, ecc. sono nati enti come il Resilient Design Institute di Alex Wilson (fondatore di BuildingGreen.com), che ha la missione di creare soluzioni che consentano agli edifici e alle comunità di sopravvivere e prosperare di fronte ai cambiamenti climatici, le catastrofi naturali e altre perturbazioni. Lo US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) con la collaborazione dello Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety ha creato un nuovo programma chiamato Resilience STAR per costruire e ristrutturare case che siano più resistenti ai disastri. La prima fase del progetto pilota si sta concentrando sulle case unifamiliari nelle zone interessate dagli uragani. Sul sito c’è una carta geografica sui rischi delle case negli US in base alle zone. Basta inserire il proprio codice postale  (ZIP Code) per conoscere il livello di rischio della propria città. Più in generale, il programma di certificazione Fortified (che comprende linee guida di progettazione e costruzione e corsi di formazione per diventare “Fortified evaluator”) mira alla sicurezza sia delle abitazioni che degli esercizi commerciali. Insomma, si aprono opportunità per una nuova tipologia di green jobs.

2014_11_19 immagine 02Zeitoun. Through the story of one man’s experience after Hurricane Katrina, Eggers draws an indelible picture of Bush-era crisis management. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Syrian-born painting contractor, decides to stay in New Orleans and protect his property while his family flees. After the levees break, he uses a small canoe to rescue people, before being arrested by an armed squad and swept powerlessly into a vortex of bureaucratic brutality. When a guard accuses him of being a member of Al Qaeda, he sees that race and culture may explain his predicament. Eggers, compiling his account from interviews, sensibly resists rhetorical grandstanding, letting injustices speak for themselves. His skill is most evident in how closely he involves the reader in Zeitoun’s thoughts. Thrown into one of a series of wire cages, Zeitoun speculates, with a contractor’s practicality, that construction of his prison must have begun within a day or so of the hurricane [The New Yorker].

Resilience is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance.  It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption of some sort [Resilient Design Institute].

Green mood in New Orleans.

Highlights from Greenbuild 2014.

Maybe not one of the busiest (but the numbers were nonetheless significant), surely one of the most exciting and compelling editions of Greenbuild, the one concluded last week in New Orleans. The leadership in jazz, the ease, the green reconstruction nine years after Katrina. So many meetings, people, emotions. Greenbuild is definitely the unmissable event, the annual convention that brings together the community of green practitioners to share the best sustainable practices. Here is Rick Fedrizzi (CEO of USGBC) introduction during the “Opening Plenary and Celebration” at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (wow, what a location …!).

 

These are in my opinion the ten moments and meanings that this twelfth edition left me (not in order of importance).

1 | Rick Fedrizzi and the shared leadership. The feeling this year is that the USGBC is now a extremely well-oiled and mature organization, where it is not necessary that the charisma of Rick is predominant. The new figure of the president, Roger Platt has made the scene, for instance. And the presentation of the samples of sustainability champions (too long to list them all) of the USGBC and its network during the closing ceremony testifies to the direction that the greatest world organization of this kind has taken. A distributed leadership through several departments, geographical areas and different ages (I’ve never seen so many young people like this year!).

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The champions of sustainability. USGBC and its network

2 | Scot’s dynamic plaque: the novelty of this year, the paradigm shift. The creation of Scot Horst, finalist among the most innovative design objects at the Fast Company event two weeks ago, is the tool that can really change our built world. It monitors and assigns a score in real time to the sustainability of any LEED certified building. Only if you measure you can improve, we know it; the dynamic plaque is the platform we all were been waiting for.

Here is Scot’s speech !

Bertschi School Living Science Building

The Bertschi School, Seattle (WA)

3 | Living Building School: Living Building Challenge and the sustainability embedded in the DNA of the new generations. I love what the people at the International Living Future Institute are doing. If the school (as education provider) is “magistra vitae,” buildings like the Bertschi School in Seattle are living organisms that educate our children to grow up aware of the balance with nature and its resources. A lot of talks about education and training, along all three days, good sign.

4 | Retailers could be the new messengers of sustainability. The case of Starbucks (500 LEED certified shops !), Verizon, and some others. We see that large international companies operating globally, can do a lot in terms of reducing their impact. It’s also a matter of responsible communication to the customers as well as a virtuous management of their business. Not surprisingly, the latest report of USGBC (LEED in motion) is focused entirely to retail and its opportunities.

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Sustainability in the Retail Sector, w/ Anthony Perez (Starbucks), Ana Meyer (Verizon) and Lauren Staniec (Pyramid)

5 | Biofilia. It is no longer an esoteric concept, it really becomes a tool for urban planning. We have heard this keyword more than once. Particularly impressive, in my opinion, the speech of Julia Africa, of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health. Biophilic urbanism, which foregrounds access to nature and biodiversity in urban settings, supports improved public health and environmental quality through daily opportunities for contact with nature.

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Designing Biophilic Cities for Public Health (image: Matt Grocoff)

2014_10_29 immagine 066 | The social credits. Getting credit for doing good. LEED opens the door to the pilot credits of social equity. And this is certainly innovative, not only for LEED but for sustainability protocols in a broader sense. Social equity within supply chains, communities, project teams.

7 | LCA (Life Cycle Assessment). Now a standard, although the majority of the manufacturers has not yet grasped this first passage for the “revolution of transparency” that has a huge market potentiality. This is the metric that could change the fortunes of many companies. The novelty is that now we speak of LCA in the whole building, see the calculation tool (easy to use, it seems) developed by Athena Sustainable Materials Institute.

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Getting the LCA credit in LEEDv4 w/ Jennifer O’Connor (Athena Sustainable Materials Institute) and Mark Lucuik (Morrison Hershfield)

8 | Act on the built environment. We have already done it all, now we have to upgrade the built assets to the standards of the new millennium. Thus said Scot Horst in his passionate presentation of the dynamic plaque. There is an enormous space for redevelopment and improvement. With a focus on historical buildings, see the great example of the Pearl Brewery complex in San Antonio.

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The Pearl Brewery refurbishment in San Antonio

9 | The master speakers: Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University (the climate change is linked to the man activities and behaviour, end of discussion), Deepak Chopra (a roadmap for “higher health, “based on the latest findings in both mainstream and alternative medicines – with a “mediation session bonus”). Motivating, exciting, inspiring. They helped us to think “out of the box”.

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Deepak Chopra

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The resilient building (image: USGBC, Building Resiliency Task Force)

10 | Resilience, after Katrina: rebuilding in a sustainable way, nine years later. Resilience, much quoted at the conference. Safety and stability of our houses come before the need for energy efficiency, what do you think? Isn’t it a matter of sustainability? Because what happened in New Orleans will not happen again.

Thank you, Greenbuild 🙂

Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The ideals and passion of the green building community come alive at Greenbuild. The buzz is contagious. Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work, and a unique energy is sparked. Participants are invigorated. Inspired. They find themselves equipped to return to their jobs with a renewed passion and purpose. These are the past editions: Austin 2002, Pittsburgh 2003, Portland 2004, Atlanta 2005, Denver 2006, Chicago 2007, Boston 2008, Phoenix 2009, Chicago 2010, Toronto 2011, San Francisco 2012, Philadelphia 2013.

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Vision 2020.

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The 2014 Vision 2020 Sustainability Summit took place last Tuesday at Greenbuild, New Orleans.
For a growing number of industry-leading builders, architects, developers, manufacturers and financers, the summit has been the one place, the one day that has delivered the insight to uncover opportunities for nnovation and leadership in sustainability. Visionary practitioners across the green bulding industry have taken a deep into the future of sustainable design, examining strategies, benchmarks and metrics on what our industry needs to do to achieve critical sustainability goals for 2020 and beyond.

Let’s give a look at the schedule:

PROGRAM

8:00 – 8:20 am
Topic: Energy Efficiency + Building Science
Session Title: Building Science Is Critical To Meeting 2020 Energy-Efficiency Targets
Presenter: Steve Winter, FAIA

“The efficient energy performance of a building is made or broken in accordance with how building science is applied by its designers, builders, and operators.”

Steven Winter, FAIA, is founder and president of Steven Winter Associates. Winter has been at the forefront of the U.S. sustainable/green building movement since its inception. He is past chair of the U.S. Green Building Council and was instrumental in the launching of its LEED program and the Greenbuild convention.

8:20 – 8:40 am
Topic: Energy Efficiency + Building Science
Session Title: Moving Building Technology to the Era of Zero-Energy Buildings.
Presenter: Paul Torcellini

“Today’s buildings will be used for at least 20 to 50 years and the design decisions that are being made today will mortgage energy futures. To change this direction, we must construct buildings that are energy producers instead of consumers—that is, buildings must produce at least as much energy as they consume each year.”

Paul Torcellini is a principal engineer with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and is a recognized expert in methods and technologies to achieve substantial whole building energy savings in both new construction and major renovations.

9:30 – 9:50 am
Topic: Water Efficiency
Session Title: Recent Droughts Are a Renewed Wake-Up Call to Thoughtful Action
Presenter: Doug Bennett

“What we need is a sea change in the way we plan and build communities to ensure all buildings use water efficiently for their entire lifetime—the type of change that can only be accomplished by sensible development policies tailored for each community’s water supply strategy.”

Doug Bennett has more than 24 years’ professional experience relating to water management. As the Conservation Manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas, he oversees one of the most comprehensive water conservation programs in the United States.

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10:05 – 10:25 am
Topic: Indoor Environmental Quality
Session Title: In a Net-Zero Economy, Architecture Will Celebrate Climate, Culture, and Region, Balancing Deep Conservation With the Dynamic Embrace Of Natural Conditioning.
Presenter: Vivian Loftness, FAIA

“We need to design for “environmental surfing”: maximizing natural conditioning in ways specific to each climate, and minimizing energy and water resource extraction and pollution; maximizing local materials and reducing their transportation impact and toxicity; and simplifying technological complexity with just-in-time and just-where-needed technological innovation.”

Vivian Loftness, FAIA, is an internationally renowned researcher, author, and educator focused on environmental design and sustainability, climate, and regionalism in architecture, and the integration of advanced building systems for health and productivity.

11:00 – 11:20 am
Topic: Codes, Standards And Rating System
Session Title: Are Architects Unaware Of Their Legal Obligations Under Licensure, Or Are They Simply Negligent?
Presenter: Maureen Guttman, AIA

“Over the next 10 to 15 years, global pressures—cost and availability of fossil fuels, new and affordable technologies for measurement and verification, a tax on carbon emissions—will ratchet up the “standard of care” for building designers.”

Maureen Guttman, AIA, is president of the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP).
A licensed architect with more than 25 years of experience in energy-efficient and green building design, she oversees a nationwide campaign to support the adoption and implementation of today’s model energy codes.

11:35 – 11:55 am
Topic: Economics + Financing
Session Title: Smart Metering Needs To Get Even Smarter
Presenter: Philip Henderson

“Commercial buildings often waste gigantic amounts of energy, but it appears normal until the faults are detected. Innovation in information technology has given us tools that can help operate buildings better, and utilities can be great partners in the endeavor by delivering smart meter reports with intelligence and insights.”

Philip Henderson is a senior financial policy specialist with the Center for Market Innovation at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he works with market participants, utility programs, and government on projects related to energy efficiency in buildings.

1:20 – 1:40 pm
Topic: Material + Products
Session Title: Visible Green: New Material Opportunities in Sustainable Design
Presenter: Blaine Brownell, AIA

“The coming material transformation will be significant. New environmentally attuned materials, assemblies, and applications will bring about a measurable shift in manufacturing.”

Blaine Brownell, AIA, is an architect, author, educator, and former Fulbright scholar. He earned a B.Arch. with a Certificate in East Asian Studies at Princeton University in 1992, and an M.Arch. from Rice University in 1998.

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1:55 – 2:15 pm
Topic: Building Design + Performance
Session Title: Architecture, Like Grass, Could Always Be Greener … Lessons Learned From the Hudson Passive Project
Presenter: Dennis Wedlick, AIA

“How do architects motivate their clients to invest in the time, effort, and specialties that are required of energy-conservation guidelines? We believe that finding hard evidence of efficacy is the first step, and this is the purpose of the research for our Hudson Passive Project.”

Dennis Wedlick, AIA, is the founder and co-owner of BarlisWedlick Architects, based in Manhattan and Hudson, N.Y.

2:50 – 3:10 pm
Topic: Building Design + Performance
Session Title: Resilient Design gor The Long Haul
Presenter: Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA

“While the focus on resilient design is critically important, I believe it needs to be a part of a broader understanding of how to effectively design for the future. Beyond focusing on single acute events, like hurricanes and tornadoes, we also need to address the chronic changes that are already underway because of climate change.”

Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, is a founder of the sustainable design initiative at HOK, a global design firm whose pioneering green leadership has helped propel sustainability from a fringe activity to a significant mainstream movement shaping the future of architecture. She is currently on leave from HOK serving as the Resident Fellow for AIA National on Sustainability and Design for Health.

3:25 – 3:45 pm
Topic: Sustainable Communities
Session Title: Retrofitting Suburbia For 21st Century Challenges
Presenter: Ellen Dunham-Jones, AIA

“The simple fact is that suburbia wasn’t designed with sustainability in mind, but its aging generation of commercial strip corridors, dying shopping centers, and out-of-date office parks are providing us the opportunity for a radical do-over.”

Ellen Dunham-Jones, AIA, is an award-winning architect, professor, and coordinator of the M.S. in Urban Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology, chair of the Board of Directors of the Congress for the New Urbanism, and serves on the national AIA Design and Health Leadership Group.