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Posts Tagged ‘planning’

Photo: Annie Novak/Ten Speed Press via AP

It often seems that in the US, we’re in a counterproductive hurry for fast results on everything. Initiatives that can yield better outcomes and more savings in 20 or 30 years, such as early childhood education or sustainable energy, are unpopular with many people because they require investments today.

Whatever happened to patience? Whatever happened to vision? Indigenous people used to plan for the seventh generation. Chinese sculptors once let streams shape stones over decades, like the deliberately eroded stone sculptures of Suzhou.

Rachel Dovey writes at NextCity that local governments should consider planning ahead to reap the benefits and savings offered by green design.

“It’s no secret that green design features like living roofs, reflective pavements and urban tree cover are good for public health. But they’re also good for cities’ bottom lines — especially as climate change exacerbates the urban heat island effect and messes with long-established rainfall patterns, according to a new report.

“[In] the report Delivering Urban Resilience … authors Greg Kats and Keith Glassbrook conclude that investing in what they term ‘smart surface technologies’ could deliver roughly half a trillion dollars in net financial benefits nationally.

“Take Washington, D.C. The city is going to get a lot hotter and wetter over the next decade, even by conservative emissions standards. Expanding the city’s urban tree cover would result in ‘ambient cooling’ citywide, i.e., residents using less energy for air conditioning. … That simple move could ‘lead to annual indirect energy savings [of] between $1 and $3 per 1000 [square feet] of roof,’ according to the report. And those leafy canopies do more than cool the air — they also sequester carbon, magnifying their financial benefit.

“In Philadelphia, meanwhile, tourism generated about $10.4 billion in 2014. But the city already experiences an average of 10 days in July and 6 days in August that are above 90 degrees, and that number could quadruple under the warming scenario presented by the report. Those hot days (exacerbated by the urban heat island effect) could take a significant toll on the city’s economy. …

“Many of the benefits [the authors] analyzed — preventing hospitalizations associated with extreme weather, mitigating economic losses when floods or heatwaves make a normal workday impossible, cutting health costs in low-income neighborhoods — exemplify the kinds of long-term, systemic cost-savers that fiscal year-conscious governments often shy away from.

“Still, Capital E is a venture capital firm. That probably means that the report is not unbiased, but it also means that long-game investments are spelled out in a way that local governments can relate to.” More at NextCity, here.

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