GOOD

Designing Hyperlocal Strategies to Fight Urban Heat Islands

This post is part of a series from students in the Master of Arts in Social Design program at Maryland Institute College of Art, which focuses on how design can reimagine solutions to world challenges. For the next eight weeks, MASD students will each share their personal thesis journey. Follow the series at good.is/MASD.


Baltimore was built without air conditioning. The row home offered a quick, copied, execution that boomed at the beginning of the last century. During the industrial age of the United States, Baltimore, like all cities, was far from thinking about climate change and the impending effects that would cause turmoil in the day-to-day lives of its citizens.

Fast forward to today; temperatures are hotter. The heat from the sun soaks houses, streets, yards and our bodies. In many cases, the only relief is cool shade or escape to an air-conditioned interior. But for a large population in Baltimore, and across the world, air conditioning is a luxury that many can’t afford.
My work focuses on alternatives to cooling the built environment and measuring the effects of heat to a city. Previous articles on GOOD demonstrate innovative solutions to the urban heat island effect. But beyond the immediate surface response of cool roofs, reflective pavements, and an increased tree canopy, can solutions be integrated to improve additional issues afflicting a community? What if adaptation to heat could display a variety of benefits, particularly in communities that otherwise can’t afford or warrant modifications to their homes?
The first step is reinterpreting what success could mean. Energy use is the standard metric for evaluating the impact of dealing with heat in cities; lower energy use equals success. Less cooling via AC does mean lower energy bills. But for people who can’t afford that energy use to begin with, this doesn’t demonstrate the true impact these strategies could have. Heat in cities is linked to health problems, infrastructure degradation, higher energy use and impact to air and water quality. Working with industry professionals, I’m trying to create a series of metrics for success looking at a range of impact from public health, local economy, material use and cultural influence in addition to energy to understand heat influence from a more comprehensive view. By understanding and documenting a broader impact we can design evaluate better-suited system for mitigating heat.
As I work with these communities, I’m beginning to better understand other social issues that are being dealt with in these neighborhoods, like vacancy issues, joblessness, and obesity. When juxtaposed with heat these can inform new solutions that offer a local site-specific approach that tackle multiple problems. For example, the products typically used in strategies dealing with heat are sourced from afar and manufactured in unsustainable ways. If heat mitigation solutions addressed joblessness and vacancy, we could look at harvesting local materials and a manufacturing base; offering much needed jobs, and removing urban decay. Developing these pairing of community specific issues with heat builds a stronger case for change and the chances of it actually happening.
Approaching the problem of heat from both ends of the system in evaluation and implementation, I am working to develop holistic solutions to a variety of communities in east Baltimore. Working at a local scale my work has allowed me to foster connections to residents and partners that open potential for the city to thrive and evolve for the future.
Photo via (cc) Flickr user Bob Jagendorf\n
Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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