Fukuoka sets the bar high for green roofs, walls and terraces
If you require a little inspiration of the green roof kind, stop ogling the neighbour’s sedum-topped shed and start Google Earthing the ACROS building in Fukuoka, Japan, instead.
While the ‘elegant urban façade’ of the building’s northern face has a formal entrance opening out onto bustling city streets, its southern side is altogether earthier. Lush green vegetation extends from ground level over multiple one-storey terraces, right to the very top. And under the building’s 14 terraces is more than one million square feet of space.
When designing a building to be located in the city’s only remaining park, architect Emilio Ambasz knew what he must do. “A plaza was taken away and I wanted to give them a plaza back,” he says. Using a range of local species – short-trunked to withstand typhoons – he began work on the green roof as soon as the shell of the building was finished, and well before anyone moved in.
Radical newcomers are running between the slow feet of big business.Dax Lovegrove has some clues on keeping up.
You open a search engine and enter the term ‘forest investment’. It draws up the leading land acquisition consultants, and a few ads. Nothing unusual for the user – but the funds generated by the clicks and screens go straight into protecting those trees…
The search engine Ecosia does just that. Its unusual financial model means that at least 80% of the income generated through advertisers and sponsored links is ploughed into forest protection initiatives via a partnership with WWF. For Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity without growth, this is a prime example of business redefining success in the private sector. It’s largely thanks to the company’s environmental ‘slant’ that this new entrant has been able to make its mark on a highly competitive market, dominated by long-established global players.
Why I chose the Mprof
Ihad a career in conservation, but at the back of my mind a voice was saying, “I’ve got a degree in politics, I want to see something of the bigger picture”. I’m not a great academic, but this programme brought in thought leaders who’d been there, done that, for us to plunder their intellectual capital. It took my career in a whole new direction.
Long-distance travellers Each spring, monarch butterflies migrate in their millions from their winter home, the Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico – and although those who depart will never return, their descendants arrive back eight months later, after a journey that takes them as far as eastern Canada. Their Mexican home was discovered in 1974, when researchers traced the butterflies’ flight path south to Michoacán, There, butterflies cling to oyamel trees in such numbers that branches break under the weight. The spectacle made the covers of National Geographic and Scientific American, inadvertently prompting a tourism boom in the small rural towns in the area.
We don't have to let tourism take us to hell in a hand cart. Richard Hammond charts a better course.
The vast rooftop terrace of the Kasbah du Toukal provides a spectacular setting. Feast your eyes on the panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains. Treat your tastebuds to the hotel’s Moroccan haute cuisine. Treat your wallet gently by booking into a shared dorm - or splash out on a private luxury apartment. And give your conscience a break, as you reflect on what the locally managed Kasbah is bringing the local community by way of employment, farm incomes and funds. For this renovated fortress is the fairer face of tourism today.
Prince Charles’s estate in right royal eco-makeover
The days of humble serfs tilling their lord’s land may be long gone. But country estates are still key in keeping Britain’s rural communities alive and kicking. Especially if they combine innovation with tradition, says Forum for the Future in its new report, Rural estate sustainability: leading by example.
One place that’s pulling its finger out is Highgrove, the Prince of Wales’s Gloucestershire estate. Acting on advice from Forum, the royal household has introduced water- and energy-saving measures, including rainwater harvesting to flush toilets and irrigate land, a reedbed sewage system and eco-friendly insulation. They’ve even fitted double-glazing on the 18th-century windows.
Over at the 900-acre Home Farm, solar panels have been installed to heat water, and the Prince is also looking into producing and selling bio-diesel. It’ll make a change from Duchy lemon curd… - Hannah Bullock
Huge swarms of Monarch butterflies, once believed to be the souls of ancestors returning for the annual Day of the Dead, illuminate the autumnal forests of Michoacana in Mexico following their lengthy migration from North America.
Michoacana is one of 25 sites (in France, Spain, Morocco, Russia and Vietnam as well as Mexico) recently added to UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere network, which aims to help protect biodiverse areas by engaging local communities and government agencies, while ensuring the livelihoods of local people by encouraging eco-tourism.
Birmingham has got the noise issue in its sights. Its new noise maps, a first for a UK city, caught the eye at a special Action against Noise event at the National Exhibition Centre, where Environment Minister Michael Meacher enthused over the results of the two-year project.
The Sound Immission Contour Maps (SICMs) are colour-coded to show sources of road, rail and aircraft noise (‘Sound affects’, see Issue 19, p42). They will be an important tool in targeting noise reduction measures and highlighting which local residents are most in need of help against over-exposure.
At the national level, too, the government is promising action on noise pollution from transport and industry. The Birmingham initiative offers a blueprint for other cities and, in Meacher’s own words, "charts the way for producing a national noise map".
It could be a step on the road to a National Noise Strategy, as advocated by the clean air and noise campaign group National Society for Clean Air (NSCA). And listen out for a potential EU directive - noise maps might end up as a requirement for all urban centres with over 250,000 people.
The Countryside Agency’s innovative schemes help both drivers and the carless get to town, writes Claire Spink.
Road traffic is growing all over Britain - but in the countryside it is rising much faster than anywhere else, as quiet lanes become rat runs for hurrying motorists. One study, by the Council for the Protection of Rural England, says traffic on rural roads will double by 2030.
All is not lost, however. In its first year the Countryside Agency has already shown that sustainable alternatives to the car not only work but can help revitalise villages and towns. Its schemes may be valuable templates for change during the 21st century.
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