Last night Michael Schaal, of the U.S. Energy Information Administration spoke about the outlook for future energy demand in the world and the United States.
Some of what he reported will not surprise you; we’ve heard a lot of this before.
Even with increased interest in renewable fuels, most of our energy needs will be met by fossil fuels. Demand increases with population and income, so demand is expected to increase in China, Russia, and India. Technology is helping us find new sources of fossil fuels. Technology is also helping us save energy; for example, the energy savings from more efficient appliances have helped keep US energy demand steady, even as we use more gadgets like cell phones and laptops.
There is another angle to the sustainability argument.
Rehabilitation projects are labor intensive rather than materials intensive. The need for skilled labor creates jobs that are often sourced locally, whereas manufacturers of materials for new construction are not. This results in more dollars going to people within the community, who turn around and spend that money locally, contributing to the viability of the local economy.
Donovan Rypkema, with the Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development consulting firm PlaceEconomics, completed a study on The Value of Historic Preservation in Maryland in 1999 which asked “Does historic preservation mean jobs?” The study concluded that, “In Maryland the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes.’” The report also found … Continue reading
Saturday’s DC Garden Open Day, hosted by the Garden Conservancy, took us down the exclusive streets and well-screened back yards of six well-heeled — and pooled — Washingtonians (did my sons crawl under author Christopher Buckley’s trampoline?). We were about do head into another beautiful garden when my wife got my attention by asking “Is that a zinc house?”
Indeed it was. This house, at 3530 Newark Street, NW, was designed by Travis Price Architects and has a sleek LucasArts starship feel. Assumedly pre-weathered zinc cladding form an outer shield, with minimal openings and a blunt-faced bay on one side and a curved slicing edge on the other. Atop a stone base, the soft underbelly of this creature is mostly … Continue reading
As we start writing the code for the new zoning ordinance, a “big picture” view seems in order. The biggest-picture formula in climate change, called the Kaya identity, is:
F = Global CO2 emissions (combustion, flaring of natural gas, cement production, oxidation of nonfuel hydrocarbons, and transport) P = Global population (total number of human beings) g = Consumption per person (gross world product divided by population) e = Energy intensity of gross world product (global energy consumption divided by gross world product) f = Carbon used to make energy (global carbon dioxide emissions divided by global energy consumption)
The most obvious thing about this equation – if you remember even grade-school math – is … Continue reading
During National Preservation Month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation reminds us that just as old buildings are sustainable, so are old communities. Older communities are often built closer to economic centers, they are smaller and have viable existing infrastructure, and can be retrofitted for walking, biking, and transit use. In contrast, developing previously undeveloped land is energy and material intensive and can have significant environmental impacts. The rehabilitation and reuse of buildings in denser, centrally located historic districts and the preservation of agricultural land prevents sprawl and reduces impacts on the environment.
Architect Carl Elefante, author of “The Greenest Building Is…One That Is Already Built,” describes the relationship of preservation to … Continue reading
Lately, I’ve been discussing the effort to rewrite Montgomery County’s zoning code. Previous installments have covered zones and uses. Today, I discuss issues that make the current code complex and disorganized.
Like most legal documents, the Montgomery County Zoning Code includes a definitions section. But like other parts of our code, this section has also become cluttered and disorganized.
Montgomery’s code includes 25 defined terms that are not used in the text of the code. “Foster home,” “marquee,” and “roof line” all fall into this category; the meaning of each is clear — because they’re defined — but they are never referenced in the code.
Of the multitude of office types listed as permitted uses, only three … Continue reading
Guest Blogger: Michael Brown, Urban Designer, Kensington Sector Plan
After nearly 30 years, the Town of Kensington is inching closer to an updated sector plan. Thumbing through the 1978 Plan, you quickly realize the need for the updated document. While the overall vision of maintaining Kensington’s single-family, historical character has not changed, the updated plan promotes a new vision for the center.
In the 1960s, Kensington was designated as a Central Business District, in anticipation of a Metro route along the existing rail line. When Metro decided instead to build the Red Line along a different route, the 1978 plan eliminated the CBD designation to preserve the low-intensity character. Conversely, the updated plan promotes a mixed-use center with connections … Continue reading
What would one notice if a map was created based on the geographical entries in Wikepedia? A confirmation that “we” [viz., the countries in dark red below] are more interested in ourselves than other places.
This may be obvious, and not necessarily self-serving, but it does point to our lack of knowledge of other places and peoples. In any event, the visualization of this information is a pointed reminder that much of the world isn’t even involved as part of the conversation on knowledge and information. If nothing else, we should remember this when we speak of “the greater good”.