Meeting of the Minds took a few moments to talk with Herrie Schalekamp about new working relationships between researchers and paratransit operators in South Africa and beyond. Herrie is the ACET Research Officer at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Transport Studies. In addition to his research, teaching and consulting in the fields of paratransit and public transport reform he is involved in specialised educational programmes for paratransit operators and government officials. Herrie’s activities form part of a broader endeavour to investigate and contribute to improved public transport operations and regulation in Sub-Saharan African cities under ACET – the African Centre of Excellence for Studies in Public and Non-motorised Transport.
2030 Districts: High Performance Building Districts Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships
Our cities can be the cornerstone of the green circular economy, supporting resilient societies and inclusive communities with universal access to public services and economic opportunity. The WBCSD’s cornerstone Vision 2050 report calls for laying out a pathway to a world in which nine billion people can live well, and within the planet’s resources, by mid-century.
As we move toward 2050 we are facing the consequences of accelerating urbanization and population growth, the rise of mega-cities and mega-regions, and the increasing demand for and complexity of mobility options. Rampant growth and dwindling resources are creating new vulnerabilities and greater pressures for urban planning and governance — requiring new strategies for building resilience in individuals, communities and cities.
Cities, however, are also places of enormous innovation and opportunity. The key to planning for sustainable cities of the future is to bring together innovation and delivery capacity of the private sector and private-public partnerships.
The 2030 Districts is a movement to create high-performance building districts with the goal of dramatically reducing the environmental impacts of building construction and operations while increasing competitiveness in the business environment and owner’s return on investment. The initiative is overseen by Architecture 2030, a non-profit organization committed to transforming the built environment from a major contributor of Greenhouse Gas Emissions to a being a central part of the climate crisis and dialogue.
2030 Districts is a collaborative effort to renovate hundreds of millions of square feet of existing buildings and construct high-performance infill development and redevelopment. Architecture 2030’s objective is for 2030 District national collaborators and partners to have equal access to the support and resources needed to achieve the 2030 Challenge for planning targets. 2030 Districts commit to reducing building energy use, water consumption, and GHG emissions related to transportation by 50% by 2030.
2030 Districts bring property owners and managers together with local governments, businesses, and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources. By targeting district-scale greenhouse gas emissions reductions, 2030 Districts realize the benefits of multiple building owners, operators, and occupants working together to share resources, leverage financing, and implement collective strategies.
The 2030 Districts:
- Focus on high performance buildings and building retrofits;
- Engage with individual building owners and managers, building sector professionals, and community representatives, and are private sector led;
- Track metrics and performance in the following areas: building energy use, water use, and transportation emissions;
- Report on aggregated building and district wide performance against set metrics and performance goals with incremental milestones.
2030 Districts are led by the private sector, with local building industry leaders uniting around a shared vision for sustainability and economic growth – while aligning with local community groups and government to achieve significant energy, water, and emissions reductions. Districts in fifteen large cities – Seattle, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Denver, San Francisco, Stamford, Dallas, Toronto, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Grand Rapids, Austin, Portland ME and Ithaca – comprising over 290 million square feet are currently being transformed under this initiative.
2030 Districts have the ability to creating a Fee for service with a local Municipality or organization providing necessary work needed for an existing or new program through their knowledge, skills and connections. 2030 Districts can align Fee for Service contracts with Grant programs to gain additional revenue streams to grow within their community. The program also assists with procurement. The 2030 Districts Marketplace was created to streamline the procurement process and offer innovative reliable products at below-market prices. Technologies are selected through a competitive application process to vet reliability, effectiveness, and pricing.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Building Sector consumes nearly half (47.6%) of all energy produced in the United States. Seventy-five percent (74.9%) of all the electricity produced in the U.S. is used just to operate buildings. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports confirms the necessity for immediate and sustained action on climate change, detailing how close we are to a turning point in the earth’s climate system. One key way to do that is to reduce and ultimately phase out the CO2 emissions produced by the building sector by transforming the way buildings are designed, built, and operated!
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Brownfields are sites that are vacant or underutilized due to environmental contamination, real or imagined. There are brownfields of some kind in virtually every city and town in the U.S., usually related to a gas station, dry cleaner, auto repair shop, car dealership or some other ubiquitous local business that once benefited the community it now burdens with environmental hazards or old buildings.
In addressing this issue, technology has not been effectively deployed to promote redevelopment of these sites and catalyze community revitalization. We find that the question around the use of technology and data in advancing the redevelopment of brownfields is twofold:
How can current and future technology advancements be applied to upgrade existing brownfield modeling tools? And then, how can those modeling tools be used to accelerate transformative, sustainable, and smart redevelopment and community revitalization?
Across the country, urban parks are enjoying a renaissance. Dozens of new parks are being built or restored and cities are being creative about how and where they are located. Space under highways, on old rail infrastructure, reclaimed industrial waterfronts or even landfills are all in play as development pressure on urban land grows along with outdoor recreation needs.
These innovative parks are helping cities face common challenges, from demographic shifts, to global competitiveness to changing climate conditions. Mayors and other city officials are taking a fresh look at parks to improve overall community health and sense of place, strengthen local economies by attracting new investments and creating jobs, help manage storm water run-off, improve air quality, and much more. When we think of city parks holistically, accounting for their full role in communities, they become some of the smartest investments we can make.