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  1. Urban Green : Architecture for the Future
  3. Top Authors
  4. Urban Green: Architecture for the Future
  5. Book Review: Urban Green: Architecture for the Future by Neil B. Chambers | LSE Review of Books

In your new book, Urban Green: Architecture for the Future , you argue that the number of green building projects in the U.

1950s Home Retrofit to Super Efficient Passive House - Urban Green Building

A far more comprehensive approach is needed if we are going to reduce energy and water use, restore wildlife habitats, and develop sustainable cities over the long-term. What approach is missing and still needed?

Urban Green : Architecture for the Future

We need to revolutionize the entire system of how buildings, real estate, infrastructure, and capital projects are approached, designed and implemented. The green buildings of today are a fair start but not anywhere near what needs to take place in the architecture, engineering, and construction world.

We are basically still dealing with water, energy, and buildings the same way we were years ago. But the current green building industry is only addressing a small percentage of the problems. In fact, dealing with climate change and energy efficiency is like polishing the silverware as the Titanic sinks. That may sound crazy to anyone within the green building movement. But the truth is that climate change and many other issues would disappear if we adhered to the ecological principles that govern nature and ecosystems.

In my book, I talk extensively about the power of old growth forests, estuaries, and prairies ability to sequester carbon, modulate temperature, manage stormwater, reduce flooding, and purify water better than any technology known to humans.


I use specific projects that have re-established habitat and natural lands which provide incredible amounts of clean water, habitat, and better quality of life to people. Ecological solutions cost a fraction of what technological solutions cost, and need far less maintenance than the new green gadgets and gizmos being pushed as the great hope for our future.

Also, cars create air pollution. Lots of people are in love with EVs, but these new cars are not the answer to any of problems we face.

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EVs will cause more pollution, more carbon emission and more environmental impact than they solve. This is because of a few factors: These tandem technologies include things such as smart grids, renewable energy production and battery technology. It is unrealistic, and quite frankly misleading, for EV advocates to say these will happen as recommended and hoped. For example, EV advocates expect renewable energy generation to grow fast enough to feed a growing fleet of electric cars in the United States green energy.

Urban Green: Architecture for the Future

However, the percentage of U. Moreover, under the current view of EVs, they will be using all of the renewable energy generated in the U. The shortfall of green power will lead to an increase in coal production, which would mean more emissions, particulates, toxins, and pollution. Though oil is dirt, unit to unit, oil emits less carbon. Instead of big renewable energy plants, you call for a decentralized approach to energy production within buildings.

What is the benefit of large-scale use of on-site solar panels over big power plants? What are the possible negative environmental impacts of widespread use of solar? Are there more environmentally-sound ways to produce panels for use in buildings? Decentralized power production is a much more democratic way of generating and distributing energy. For me, it seems counter-productive to build these huge solar energy plants in the middle of nowhere when you can produce the same amount of energy within and on top of buildings where people are.

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I think one of the unseen benefits for BIPV for houses n this economy is that a PV array would increase the value of your home. Many of the large-scale solar farms that are proposed are sited in wilderness that is extremely fragile. This is the same mentality about energy production as that of coal and petroleum. As the dialogue of sustainability disregards the health of natural lands for the good of society, the movement has broken down and become dysfunctional. However every step in the process before and after the energy is created is highly dangerous and toxic to all living things.

On-site energy production is not that far fetched. Most homes and buildings have their own boilers and cooling systems. In places like NYC, there are large steam networks for heating buildings. I really see hydrogen fuel cells as the future for on-site energy.

Everyday, more buildings and homes are disconnecting from the grid because they have hooked up to a fuel cell. There are communities throughout the world that run completely on hydrogen now. The costs of residential size fuel cells are falling too. He serves as an adjunct professor at NYU, teaching green design and environmental policy, and is a national fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program.

Chambers has a growing media presence, both in traditional media and the blogosphere, where his blog on Treehugger. Author Neil Chambers has been at the forefront of cutting-edge, sustainable architecture for years, and Urban Green is his revolutionary vision There is less focus on the benefits of cooperation that dense urban life might ideally facilitate and more on the possibilities of independence from inefficient centralised energy grids and backyard ecology.

Book Review: Urban Green: Architecture for the Future by Neil B. Chambers | LSE Review of Books

For such a bold idea that requires extensive coordination there might be room for more traditional forms of government intervention. Chambers is right in broadening what has become a narrow green agenda to assert that a serious environmentalism should put ecology at the heart of its mission. Dealing with problems of income distribution, poverty, ill health and social relations might be a step too far for a book that is already wide-ranging in its scope.

Nevertheless, to sidestep such issues and believe that the restoration of ecosystems will become a priority without being locked into a more comprehensive social and economic politics is to miss one of the key lessons of the sustainability movement. This is an enjoyable read that takes us on intriguing tangents.

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As an architect and a blogger at treehugger. Readers familiar with the territory may be disappointed in a lack of new information based on rigorous analysis. Nevertheless, the reassertion of an ecologically-oriented vision is a welcome addition to the on-going work of developing truly sustainable cities.