EcoGeek – Clean Technology
Written by Yoni Levinson Wednesday, 20 May 2009
“Walkable urbanism” is a catch-all phrase that means many things. It means building developments, towns and cities that put pedestrians first, rather than cars. It means putting retail and office space within walking distance of residential space. It means developing mixed use land, something that has traditionally been avoided by real estate developers. It means replacing suburban sprawl with… real communities. It’s a good thing.
So it’s exciting to hear that the City of Toronto has big, walkable plans for the hundreds of dreary high rise towers that house many of its residents. Right now, these buildings are energy inefficient, and exist in empty plots of land with little transportation and few businesses.
All that is about to change, though because the City plans on retrofitting the buildings with a slew of energy saving measures – improved insulation, better heating and cooling, solar panels, solar hot water… you name it. It’s estimated that these retrofits will cost a fraction of what it would cost to actually tear down the buildings and build new ones.
But besides the fact that the buildings are going to be new and sparkling green, the City is planning on making dynamic use of the previously bare, empty land around the high rises. They are bringing in businesses and farmer’s markets, putting in community gardens and open space, and even setting aside office space in some of the buildings themselves. And they plan on expanding their light rail also, to make these areas more connected.
When we think of the people most likely to bring about necessary green changes, we often think of energy companies or car companies. But let’s not forget that developers – and everyone else who plans how we use our space – can make an extraordinary amount of difference
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