Publication: Harvard Design Magazine
Thesis: Recent urbanization and development in New York city has resulted in a wholly environmentally unsustainable city with questionable power sources, construction waste, and poor resource utilization all posing major threats to the health of the city.
Questionable power sources, construction waste, and poor resource utilization are just some of the more vexing issues facing the city. These are problems echoed across the country but exacerbated by the volume of people and the proximity within which they live. Things that seem natural to a town have washed away in waves of urbanization and skyrocketing prices for a square foot of rent. The urbanization of New York has been crippled by its piecemeal growth and small scale projects resulting in an incoherent patchwork of an environmentally unsustainable city. While an occasional project will address these issues, there is an ignorance of the need for green that shoots straight to the top. There have been reports of the ideal scenarios for decades from now, but little legislative legwork to keep things moving along the allotted path (Office of the Mayor, 2007). Environmentally conscious architecture and planning isn’t merely a supplementary certification to boast about but rather, urgently needed. As cities draw more and more people from an ever wider range, their scope of drawing for resources grow too. This ever expanding radius and, in turn, impact per person is putting a strain on the country as a whole and its beginning to show. California’s drought, crop shortages, and landfill zones running out of space are just a few of the symptoms of this national epidemic, and some of these problems are affecting the big apple as well (WBEZ, 2015).
Now more than ever there is a need to return to the basics, the lifestyle possible hundreds of years ago is still relevant today. I do not mean to imply by any means that horse and buggies are the new Prius, but rather that using what you have and conserving your resources are a way of life, not a choice. For architects this means designing buildings that are adaptive and designed for their location to use a reasonable amount of energy and attempting to gain some through renewable resources. For urban planning this may mean more green space and better regulation of zoning. The citys’ planning commissions have consistently approved larger and larger projects with disregard for environmental impacts, or based on a set of standards that only address a specific set of issues (Smith, 2002)(NPR, 2010). This has an impact on everyone, from the individual to the largest corporation, and means its time for everyone to take a stand too.
Residents of the city are beginning to take notice of the changes all around them, affecting everything from air quality to even how much sun they see (Hughes, 2015). Some people are becoming inspirited but often times don’t know how best to execute this newfound sense of duty towards the environment. A still smaller group is finding a way to become as small as possible, in an ecological impact sense (Owen, 2004). This article seeks to point out the problems currently extant in New York City and propose a solution on varying scales for the individual and the corporation.
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