Sustain Magazine Promotes Green Urbanism

The latest issue of Sustain Magazine reflects current thinking in the area of green urbanism and urban sustainability in our cities. The issue features seven perspectives on the ideal city in terms of policy and planning. This publication (co-edited by John Gilderbloom and Matt Hanka) presents American and Dutch analysis on a range of topics including: equitable development; downtown revitalization; the benefits of bicycling; neighborhood planning; urban morphology; creating aculture of tolerance; and reducing carbon emissions.

Sustain Magazine is a peer reviewed publication, and it is produced by the Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development (KIESD). Formed by the University of Louisville in 1992, KIESD provides thegeneral public and the research community statewide with the tools andthe space to work towards a brighter future. The Institute if a forum for conducting interdisciplinary research, applied scholarly analysis, public service and educational outreach on environmental and sustainabledevelopment issues at the local, state, national and internationallevels.

Sustain Magazine of KIESD

Sustainable Communities Issue


New Book on Environmental Justice By Dorceta Taylor

A new book from a University of Michigan professor explores how the centuries-old connections between racism and the environment in American cities.

"The Environment and the People in American Cities, 1600s-1900s: Disorder, Inequality, and Social Change" was written by Dorceta Taylor, left, a professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and director of an institute studying the issue of environmental justice its modern context. Duke University Press plans to release the book this month.

"The Environment and the People in American Cities" provides a sweeping and detailed examination of the evolution of American cities from Colonial New York and Boston to recent urban planning and labor reform efforts, outlining the rise of problems like overcrowding, pollution, poverty and epidemics and connecting them to systemic environmental racism and other forms of environmental inequities.

In its coverage of race, class and gender inequalities, the book includes a dimension missing from other academic books on environmental history. Professor Taylor adds to current research on the subject by exploring the emergence of elite reformers, the framing of environmental problems and the responses to perceived breakdowns in social order. By focusing specifically on cities, she offers important clues to understanding the evolution of American environmental activism.

Beyond the contribution to historical literature on the subject, Professor Taylor connects her findings to current issues in environmental policy. The book grew out of an undergraduate class on environmental politics Professor Taylor taught more than a decade ago. After finding no books or articles examining race, class or gender and the environment in a historical context, she decided to write her own. The project eventually grew into two books.

While all-male expeditions and solitary males who retreat to the woods for months or years at a time are idealized in many environmental history accounts, the urban activists receive no such acclaim or glory," she said, noting that female, working class and ethnic minorities were active in environmental activism and affairs. "In the city, the classes, races and genders interacted with each other to create a kind of environmentalism that was very fluid and dynamic.

Throughout her analysis, she connects social and environmental conflicts of the past to those of the present. She describes the displacement of people of color for the production of natural open space for the white and wealthy; the close proximity between garbage and communities of color in early America; the "cozy" relationship between middle-class environmentalists and the business community; and resistance to environmental inequalities from residents of marginal communities.


Official First Family Photograph

The Obamas in the Green Room, Sept. 1, 2009, with Sasha, second from left, and Malia, right. (Annie Leibovitz for the White House)


What Are You Breathing During Your Hotel Visits?

In July of 1976, the American Legion held a conference at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia to celebrate the country's bicentennial anniversary. Within two days of the event, the veteran attendees were diagnosed with pneumonia-like symptoms. The incident resulted in 221 veterans diagnosed and 34 dead.

In January 1977, the cause of the mysterious epidemic, which came to be known as Legionnaires' disease, was identified as a bacterium (Legionella pneumophila) growing in the hotel's cooling tower and introduced to the building via the nearby fresh-air intake.

The first recognized outbreak of Legionnaires' disease focused national attention on indoor air quality, and thus changing building standards forever. To engineers and designers, the challenge became one of providing a healthy indoor environment without sacrificing comfort or energy efficiency.

According to the International Hotel & Restaurant Association: “People spend 80 percent of their time inside buildings. While energy efficiency is critical to cutting costs and emissions, the indoor environment is the most fundamental element of service quality. Guests want a comfortable environment in order to be productive at meetings and enjoy their leisure time, be it in their rooms, in restaurants, or around establishment premises. At the same time, employees need to concentrate to work efficiently and creatively. To guarantee these expectations, a good indoor environment is essential.”

With the proliferation of the concepts of sustainability and “green”, travelers are making decisions based not only on price, but a hotel company's commitment to the health and well-being of its guests. They want an environment free of airborne pathogens. As time has passed and studies have continued, scientists have continued to uncover additional hazardous sources that trigger headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Additional studies into indoor air quality revealed the existence of radical elements infiltrating the air. From asbestos-stained walls to volatile organic compounds, to radon poisoning, the fact is that now there is more to be cautious of than in the past.

However, when in a poll, the majority of hotel guests stated ultimately only a good night's sleep was a factor in their hotel choice. Yet, many factors affect a person's sleep, including the conditioned environment.

Improving Hotel Air Quality

While many people say that letting outside air in is sufficient to improve indoor air quality, that fact is that outdoor air is also not at optimal levels. This is even further the case if the outside air is humid, which only encourages mold growth. The most practical solution is for hotels to supply portable air conditioners as a courtesy or as mobile room cooling units that guests can rent out. Colder room temperatures keep bacteria and viruses at bay, which is why your hotel room is always set to freezing.

Ensuring that a hotel's indoor environment is one that will keep guests coming back is a never-ending job. From design to construction/renovation to operation, a hotel operator must be cognizant of issues associated with the indoor environment and address them proactively as well as reactively.

The U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC's) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating systems take a comprehensive approach to sustainable building design, construction, and operation, addressing total environment (e.g., thermal comfort, day lighting and views, productivity of workforce, ventilation, cleaning products). In a hotel, it is critical that not only air quality be addressed, but all other factors affecting the guest experience. Although no specific certification exists for hotels, the USGBC and American Hotel & Lodging Association are working together to develop one.

Shireen Shah is a writer with http://www.air-purifier-home.com/. Follow her on Twitter@AirConditioners


Live a Green Lifestyle This Summer

By Shireen Qudosi

What is a Green Lifestyle

A green lifestyle is an ethical commitment to conservation - or just simply a greater awareness of what we're consuming and what impact we have on our environment. Over the last few years, with the rise of a 'green' trend, we've seen a lot more companies not only catering to the green market, but making it easier to consumers to be educate on ways to be more eco-friendly. Just picking up a few tips here and there goes a long way. And with summer right around the corner, now is the best time to see what little hidden eco trolls lurk in the habits we've developed over the years.

Fueling your BBQ

Nothing says summer like a BBQ. It's good to know you don't have to sacrifice your time honored summer tradition just to stay in step with Mother Earth. If you're going to BBQ, make sure you use propane rather than wood or charcoal, since propane burns much cleaner. Using briquettes or charcoal creates about 105 times more carbon monoxide than if you cooked on a propane grill - not to mention the fact that those fumes are not only entering into the atmosphere, but directly into your food and lungs.

However, if you can't resist charcoal, consider Cowboy Charcoal. This way, you're not exposing yourself or your family to harmful volatile organic compounds. And if you want to get really nifty, try a using solar energy to cook your food! With the emphasis on green, more and more companies are not only redesigning existing products to be more eco-friendly, but they're coming up with new clever ways to do the same old thing. Featuring several different types of cookers, from a flat top grill to an oven, Solar Cookers completely take away any lingering guilt you may have for flaring up the BBQ grill.

Conscientious Cooling

One of the biggest barriers to a green summer is your central air conditioners. Every time you switch on the central air, you pump out harmful gases into the environment that contribute to the global warming crisis. The more gases that go into the atmosphere, the more we turn out planet into a mini-bake over - creating a cycle that makes us run to our ac all over again. But not only are standard ACs destructive to the environment, they're also considerably harmful to your health.

A smart green alternative is a portable AC unit. Portable air conditioners are mobile cooling units, and unlike their bulky and expensive counterparts, portable ACs do not require specialized installation. Portable, or mobile ACs, are cost-effective, energy efficient, environmentally-friendly, easy to use, and now offer multiple features that makes these little gizmos a must have - especially during summer months!

However the one gold-nugget piece of info that most people don't know is that there is more than just one type of mobile cooling unit. Portable ACs are one thing, but you also have the option of a swamp cooler. Swamp coolers, also commonly referred to as evaporative coolers, have the same effect as a wet towel on a fan. If you're looking to browse smart green cooling alternatives, consider a Soleus portable air conditioner or a Symphony Swamp Cooler.

Don't be a Water Waster

Water is one of the biggest wasted resources during the summer, but there are a number of ways we can just begin to be more aware of how much of this liquid resources we're wasting in even the smallest ways. Starting with the garden, people think because its hotter they have to water their lawns that much more. What's worse, people will water their lawn during the day - big mistake! Not only are you wasting water this way since it evaporates faster (driving the need to re-water), but you're actually killing your plants. Water droplets act like a magnifying mirror attracting even more light/heat to your already fragile plants. What should you do? Wait till late evening or even early night, and water as you would during any other reason.

But along with BBQs and AC's, swimming pools is the third key word that comes to mind when people think of summers. If you've got a pool, think about making a change that not only helps the environment, but helps you directly. Most swimming pools have countless chemicals poured into them weekly. These chemicals come into contact with your skin, your eyes, and are sometimes even accidentally ingested. The smart green move is to invest in a chemical free pool that uses ionization technology to keep your pool clean and sanitary.

There are a ton of small things you can do that will make a big difference, promoting not only a healthy lifestyle, but a healthy environment. Share these ideas with your friends and family and get the ball rolling on your green summer!

Shireen Qudosi is a green expert working with Air Conditioner Home. A premier online retailer of residential/commercial cooling, Air Conditioner Home is dedicated to raising consumer awareness on green issues & promoting both air purification and eco-friendly cooling.