Increasingly more of my time has been spent in the office finishing research and presenting my findings thus far. Over the past two weeks or so I’ve twice presented my case study comparing the infrastructure potential of two sites that are seeing ongoing development on the same 1.5 mile road, but are located in two different municipalities and watersheds. Using Green-Gray Analysis, a method established by World Resources Institute, I’m researching potential green infrastructure techniques for these sites, which can be understood as the “strategic use of networks of natural lands, working landscapes, and other open spaces to conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide associated benefits to human populations”, to compare against the cost of one infiltration catch basin system, which serves as the human-engineered or gray infrastructure, to meet the needs of the site’s stormwater management requirements (WRI, 2013).
But luckily I was still able to make the obligatory Vancouver trip via ferry. Vancouver as a city seemed, on first glance, like a city that many are unsuccessfully striving for. Between the thorough transportation systems, green building pervasiveness and mixed-use planning it is evident that truly sustainable cities are possible. Below are some pictures from the Olympic Village neighborhood, the conception of which coincided with the city hosting the winter Olympics in 2010. My host company Aqua-Tex served as one of the consultants on this massive project and have provided texts on its development covering areas such as policy, water and building landscape, infrastructure and many others that have inspired my nearly-completed case study.
Spending two months in the northwest has given me what a former philosophy professor of mine described as a ‘glimpse’, which after exposed to gives the recipient something clear to strive for. Working with Aqua-Tex provided a ‘glimpse’ too, of how to craft, design and implement plans that foster true change that can be found in policies or pointed out from a car. But perhaps the most important notion I will leave Aqua-Tex with is to always know where you are within the watershed. This is a simple, often overlooked concept, but if constantly kept in mind, it will eventually become habitual. It’s importance surfaces most palpably during construction and development and recent history has shown the dystopian effects of designing against nature. But even at the individual level, consciously considering your personal location within watersheds can be the most effective way of fundamentally changing the mindsets that the field of sustainability fights uphill to do.
Gartner, T., Mulligan, J., Schmidt, R., & Gunn, J. (2013). Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection. World Resources Institute.