£5,000 of funding has been awarded to an educational greenspace initiative that plans to bring unique green spaces to Scottish schools, from the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Ideas Fund 2016 to help it achieve its goals.
Edinburgh-based urban greening enthusiast and research scientist Lynette Robertson (38) scooped the top prize for an innovative ‘Edible vertical gardens’ project that will create an outdoor green wall for pupils to enjoy and learn about plants.
The idea was selected by delegates at the annual CSGN Forum from a shortlist of three, which also included the socially driven community and environmental regeneration Glasgow Green Engines scheme by Hugh Kippen and the creative writing GreenWords initiative by the Scottish Writers’ Centre.
The winning project aims to bring renowned Catalan landscape artist and designer, Marc Grañén and his ‘Edible vertical gardens’ to urban schools in Scotland, starting with a school in a disadvantaged community in the central belt.
Marc has installed a number of vertical gardens at schools around Barcelona, providing children who have limited access to nature in their home environment with the opportunity to connect with, and learn from, nature.
The vertical design of the gardens enables growing where space is limited and provides an outdoor living ‘laboratory’ where pupils can learn science, maths and practice art, whilst also learning about food. Proving popular with children and teachers, the walls have also created quality habitat for birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates, and contribute to climate adaptation through urban cooling.
A long-standing member of the Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum, Lynette is dedicated to improving the quality of urban environments through increasing installation of vegetative infrastructure such as green roofs and walls. Hailing from the Northern Isles of Shetland, she spent much of her childhood outdoors and developed a keen interest in nature and the environment from a young age, and inherited a love of plants from her parents who are keen gardeners and vegetable growers.
After leaving school Lynette studied Geography at Aberdeen University, followed by a Masters and PhD in Geosciences at Edinburgh University. She currently works as both a research scientist at the Glasgow School of Art, within the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit, and independently as an urban greening consultant.
With the funding support from the CSGN Ideas Fund, Lynette will be able to continue developing the ‘Edible vertical gardens’ project with the aim of installing the first green walls in a Scottish school in spring 2017.
It’s essential that we inspire environmental stewardship in future generations to help solve the ecological crisis we’re facing.
Commenting on the win, Lynette said:
“Marc Grañén’s ‘Edible vertical gardens’ are an exciting way to bring more nature into school environments, and this funding will take us one step closer to bringing it to central Scotland.
“It’s essential that we inspire environmental stewardship in future generations to help solve the ecological crisis we’re facing, and one of the key ways that we can do this is through environmental education. Research has shown that nature-based education has a positive effect on students’ learning, development and behaviour and this project also brings in beneficial messages around healthy eating.”
Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Trust, said: “As Europe’s largest greenspace initiative, we aim to support organisations in delivering the green network on the ground and this year’s Ideas Fund was about backing a creative project to mark Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.
“Lynette’s vision to bring Marc Grañén’s ‘Edible vertical gardens’ concept to Scotland is excellent and will help to create an awareness amongst pupils of the importance of protecting the environment from a young age, and it will also help to improve the quality of life for the local area.”
Now in its fourth year, the CSGN Ideas Fund 2016 invited innovative concepts and projects across central Scotland to enter a competition to win up to £5,000 funding. The Fund supports the development of pioneering and green infrastructure projects and to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, applicants to this year’s Fund had to have a creative professional involved.
As one of the Scottish Government’s national developments for Scotland in the third National Planning Framework, CSGN is changing the face of Central Scotland, by restoring, transforming and greening the landscape of an area stretching from Ayrshire and Inverclyde in the west, to Fife and the Lothians in the east.
For further information about the CSGN visit www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.