Architects Challenged to Look at the Bigger Picture

The annual conference of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) was held this year in Chicago June 26‒28.  Shaunacy Ferro, writer for, wrote an article about what was discussed on the second day of the conference during a panel discussion moderated by KCRW producer Frances Anderton. Panelists included Majora Carter, an urban revitalization strategist; Ellen Dunham-Jones, chair of the Congress for New Urbanism; Robin Guenther, principal at Perkins+Will; and Rachel Minnery, a disaster resiliency activist.  Frances Anderton initiated the panel discussion asking: “What do we mean by resilience, and how do we actually explain this notion to the public?”

Shaunacy highlighted in her article what the panelists thought were some of the greatest challenges facing today’s cities and suburbs:

Majora Carter, who founded an organization called Sustainable South Bronx in 2001, had an important message for architects: “It’s not just about the building. It is about the context that building is in… How is this going to fit in the larger picture of how a city lives and breathes and loves and works? Those are the things we need you to be saying.”  

Rachel Minnery’s words were directed to our society and necessary cultural and behavioral shift, “Inherently in the U.S., we have our boxes–We have our property lines, we’re individual property owners. We need to shift that from a culture of ‘I’ to a culture of ‘we.'”

Read More.

400 kilowatt-hour array of CellCube vanadium redox flow batteries at MTA’s new facility

Recently in the news New York has been seen as the next big U.S. market for grid-scale energy storage.   One of the biggest NYC energy storage projects to date is a 400 kilowatt-hour array of CellCube vanadium redox flow batteries  in downtown Manhattan. The CellCube, built by Germany’s Gildemeister and brokered by Canadian partner American Vanadium is the first U.S. installation of its kind.

So you may be asking what are the benefits of such an energy storage project? Well according to the CEO of American Vanadium:

“The prime is how these batteries can help customers make money by flattening their peak load curves,” –Bill Radvak, CEO of American Vanadium.

Another question that comes to mind is how are these batteries different from others used in energy storage?

According to CellCube the redox flow batteries is “one of the few currently cost-effective options for storing energy for multiple hours in a row”.

Is this feasible in commercial buildings where they have to shave peak load at buildings?

How does the utility company perceive energy storage and its ability to help balance the grid at times of stress and congestion?

Lastly, could this technology back up critical facilities such as hospitals during another hurricane like Sandy in 2012?

Read more  GreentechMedia article.

Accountability for our Aging Infrastructure

Kavitha Rajagopalan writes a commentary piece about the lack of accountability  for building disasters and the need for cities at the local level to address the aging infrastructure.

She states:

“Emerging thinking in resilience shows that true sustainability begins when communities are responsible for their own governance. The people who live in a place and use its resources are the best sources of information on how sufficient those resources are or how well they are functioning. Only when local residents are empowered to become “stewards” of their lived environment can they make the best use of this information.”

Read more. 

UNDP Volume 3 Launch– “Empowering Lives, Building Resilience – Development Stories from Europe and Central Asia”

The publication launched in Dec 2013 “shares experiences of sustainable energy initiatives supported by UNDP in Europe and Central Asia. In this region, the sustainable energy challenges include: achieving universal access; improving energy efficiency; addressing frequent power cuts; reducing high energy costs; ensuring sustainable and affordable heating in winter; and accelerating the availability of renewable energy supply.”

Will PSEG outperform LIPA?

” PSEG officials have been reassuring in interviews, public presentations and LIPA board meetings over the past several months. They point to a plan to trim more trees, to install a new storm-tested leadership team with a best-in-class logistics plan, installation of a better automated phone system to respond to a deluge of calls, and the rollout of a $30 million storm-outage management computer system as underpinnings of that confidence.”

Mayor Bloomberg Announces First Multi-Family Buildings to Receive NYC Build It Back Funding to Repair Storm Damage and Improve Resiliency

NYC Build it Back is an important part of our efforts help New Yorkers continue the road to recovery,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The more than $2.5 million in assistance for these properties will help more than one thousand families get back on their feet by supporting repairs in their buildings and ensuring these locations are built resiliently to protect against future storms.”

100 Resilient Cities

100 Resilient Cities is dedicated to supporting cities to adopt and incorporate a resilience mindset in their planning, development, and community-building so that they are better prepared for and can quickly rebound from 21st century shocks and stresses. ”