Blog 3 Science, Innovation & Technology for Urban Sustainability

Blog 3 Science Innovation & Technology

Science, innovation and technology are important components of urban sustainability. They can provide solutions from the high-technology end to retrofitting, biomimicry, and more basic, inexpensive and readily-available technologies and planning approaches. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), and urban science and data can play key roles to solve urban challenges without expensive infrastructure requirements.


Identify an urban innovation project in any city in the world.

Think about the following questions and address one of them: 1) What role does this urban innovation project have for a city’s sustainable development goals?  2) What are a project’s sustainability outcomes and what methods/plans are they implementing to make the project a success? (Use valid examples to support your claim.) or 3) How does the project address all 5 factors for sustainable development (environment, economics, social equity, energy and health)?

BLOGS Due 10 PM on 10/27

COMMENTING ON BLOG 3 due by 10 PM 11/03



Wildlife Protection Act of India

India has implemented its own Wildlife Protection Act in 1972, which was passed in order to protect wildlife and their environments. This was a major step for the nation, as it ordered the protection of national parks and sanctuaries, protected some endangered plant species, and established punishments for offenders. However, the law was recently amended in 2002 to include the protection of fish and crustaceans, as well as to strengthen regulations that would make it  more difficult to alter the borders of protected areas. Although the Wildlife Protection Act was established to lower and stabilize wildlife crime, it has only been on a rise due to the rapid urbanization of India. Illegal hunting (particularly of tigers), deforestation, and mass fishing has continue to be an increasing issue in the nation of India and there is very little that can be done for the conservation of wildlife as long as the pattern of India’s uncontrolled rapid urbanization continues. The “Environmental Laws of India” website states that there is not much the government can do to regulate wildlife conservation without the help from individual citizens, but how is that possible when there are not enough resources placed into growing, impoverished communities?


USE-IT! Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together

In Birmingham, the city created a plan that tackles urban poverty in order to continue sustainability in the highly population area. City Planners focused on the highly-populated inner transect with high poverty and new migrant populations and created opportunities for citizens to self-motivate. “We will use the building of a new hospital, local social enterprise structures and universities rich in cultural and creative capital to enable the population to self-empower in a sustainable way.  This means increasing their employment prospects and their ability to engage and influence the public planning, investment and strategy that takes place in their localities.”(UIA WEBSITE) People in the communities will access jobs at the hospital and other opportunities involving  the large investment projects planned for the area. New businesses will be developed in the area by local citizens and even more people will find employment within these businesses.  This project can provide the community an uplifting for their aspirations and to access affordable educational and training opportunities.  With the success of this project, community planners hope their activities will fundamentally change the way these partners deliver and shape, education and training, investment, business support and community collaborations.


“Use+it!+birmingham – Google Search.” Use+it!+birmingham – Google Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

birm city.jpg

Urban Farming Innovations

Technological innovation projects are important in improving the sustainability of urban environments. A company called AeroFarms, which specializes in indoor farming techniques, has created the world’s largest indoor vertical farm. The farm is considered to be a technological innovation project that can produce around 1.7 million pounds of fresh greens each year and has the potential to feed over eighty-thousand people. This farm is located in Newark, New Jersey just miles from the New York City area, one of the most densely populated urban areas in the country. With the world population expected to exponentially rise and the world becoming increasingly urbanized, indoor farming technology is so crucial to urban areas such as New York. As these cities grow, less land will be used for farming but the demand for food from farming will rise with the population. Urban farming innovations such as this one are essential for sustaining the growing population of people and making the best use of space and resources. The technology is expensive to set up, but uses 95 percent less water than traditional farming practices and no pesticides or herbicides are used in the production of these plants. On top of this, these indoor farms have the potential to produce over twenty crop rotations each year while traditional farming can, at most, only produce three. Newark has implemented small-scale AeroFarms technology into area schools to spark interest and, of course, to grow sustainable and healthy greens for students. Using this technology means that the city of Newark is reducing the environmental and energy impact of food production, as well as making healthy food available to students from various socioeconomic backgrounds in their public school system. While the initial setup cost is high, this is an investment that will pay off in the long run as they begin to produce and export food from these farms. AeroFarms wants to bring this technology to places that need it the most and the obstacle that they are looking to overcome is the high startup cost. Perhaps as more people notice the success of these farms more investments will be made and the technology could become cheaper to implement in other parts of the world.


Toronto Water Front Revitalization

How does the project address all 5 factors for sustainable development (environment, economics, social equity, energy and health)?

Toronto Waterfront Renewal

Toronto’s Waterfront Project focuses that in recent decades had stagnated and aims to revitalize the vast strip of land along Lake Ontario in one of Canada’s and North America’s most influential cities. The $1.5 billion project addresses a variety of issues facing Torontonians as the city continues to undergo vast population growth, putting a strain on the city’s existing resources. According to the city’s official website, the vast project which has already been started is “creating a blueprint for growing focused, sustainable and inspiring cities in Canada.”

The Waterfront Renewal project is a multifaceted effort that consists of more concentrated efforts all along the lakeshore in a bid to better use the 800 hectares of land that has remained under utilized. The project is broken down into three major zones, focusing on the east, central, and west districts along the city’s lake front. The Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle bridge in one of Toronto’s fastest growing neighborhoods is an effort to continue the city’s recent development initiatives that focus on fiscally responsible and sustainable growth of the city. The project aims to enhance connectivity and accessibility to downtown core by creating a pedestrian friendly bridge that will significantly cut commuting times for bikers and, to a lesser extent, pedestrians. The project also makes the area more accessible to tourists by better connecting the quaint neighbourhood to the rest of the city. It also follows in the footsteps of global cities like Amsterdam and Madrid by cutting reliance on cars and coming up with more environmentally friendly solutions for a megalopolis like Toronto.

By the time of the whole project’s completion in 25 to 30 years, projects along downtown core and the East end similarly aim to create 170 hectares parks, 40,000 new affordable housing units, and 10 million square feet of commercial spaces to fuel Toronto’s robust and ever-expanding economy. In downtown, new transit lines means access to public transit for more ridings and less pressure on Toronto’s already overused Gardiner expressway. The massive project hence addresses major anxieties regarding job growth, controlling the cities soaring real estate prices, better access to public spaces and a major boost to the city’s sustainability and civic efforts.

Anti-pollution technology is receiving a breath of fresh air in China- Smog Tower

smog free tower beijing


Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team erected a seven-meter-tall air purifier in Beijing.  It is called the Smog Free Tower purportedly treats 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour, collecting more than 75% of two kinds of pollutants, PM2.5 and PM10. (QZ) This was developed from a kick starter campaign, which roughly cost $125,000. China has a problem with smog as pollution is on the rise with manufacturing companies and traffic is increasing. This is will help decrease the smog and make the air breathable. This is a huge innovation by the Dutch artist. This hits on all five sectors of sustainable development. This is helping economic development as it brings the economy to new markets of innovation. Socially people will be healthier and be able to engage with the environment. China plans to put these machines at each block.

The smog machine collects black matter which has become a hit for jewelry. (QZ) As seen in the image below. Tourist will be able to by a ring as a souvenir which is a way of using the dust efficiently.

waterlicht_factsheet-4***** Jewelry created from the smog particals seen from the bag below.

smog particles from smog free tower


Carbon-binding concrete

In nature, structures withstand wear, are made out of materials that respond to the environment, and bear an elegant design. Researchers are particularly interested in mimicking organisms that go through the process of biomineralization. Biomineralization is the method in which living organisms produce minerals to harden or stiffen existing tissues. This process gives the structural features and unique patterns in seashells and bones. Biominerals contribute various roles in organisms, the most important being support, defense and feeding.

Regular concrete emits carbon dioxide molecules from the cement, contributing to the carbon footprint. Approximately 15 billion tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere every year from concrete production alone. As cities continuously expand and populations shift to urban areas, construction and polluted building materials will increasingly become an issue in environmental health. A company named Blue Planet has developed a cement that imitates coral’s biomineralization method. Coral, on the other hand, binds carbon atoms with calcium when developing a structure.

Developing building materials, such as concrete, around biological functions have the potential to curb current carbon emission rates. According to Blue Planet, the technology in the cement mixture uses waste CO2 as a raw material to have a carbon-negative effect. This is a highly promising alternative for building materials since concrete has the highest carbon footprint. As city construction continues to multiply, carbon levels can be lowered while building structures out of strong, safe materials. Similar to nature, Blue Planet’s technologies recycle CO2 in their processes, creating environmental balance in urban construction.

Mexico City Vertical Landscape

Mexico City is taking their gardens to new heights; With a population of 8.851 million and the congestions of streets, the people and government of Mexico City have seen the need for a new innovations that move towards bettering their own ecosystem as well as the shares Earth’s outcome.

In 1992, Mexico City was named the “Most polluted city” in the world by the united nations. Since that title was handed to them they have made strides towards bettering their air pollution and waste management. They slowly started making moves towards bettering their pollution in the 1980s when new policies were put in place regarding reformulating gasoline, closing toxic factories and putting bans on cars. However, The vertical gardens have become a way to scrub away the pollution from everyday life and the congestion of traffic. They also do a great job of improving the image of Mexico City after the title of “Most polluted city”.

imgres-1  The vertical gardens are doing their job of absorbing the stress of busses, cars, and taxis that choke the street of Mexico. However, the plants seem to be responding to that type of abuse. Some plants in the vertical gardens are wilting and falling dead because of the busyness of the street.  Along with the everyday stress having an affect of the effectiveness of the plants, there is still controversy surrounding the idea. There is disbelief amount the people in Mexico that these gardens will work. The gardens do make the landscape look nice, but what the people want to know if they actually do anything to improve the environment. A strong opinion of the people is that it looks nice but is a waste of money. That is when exposure of the problem and urgency of the situation needs to be made public and more prominent. If people knew the kind of power plants hand they would demand more gardens and green space.

imgres  The vertical Gardens are not going to fix all the problems Mexico has with Pollution, but they are a beautiful and great way to start the movement into a brighter and healthier Mexico City.


Forest City Lavasa, India

Biomimicry is the union of biological processes and the interests of bringing these processes into urban life to address major contemporary challenges. In a city like Lavasa, India, it’s a hill city with a dense forest surrounding it. The city is prone to droughts, monsoons, and threats to erosion according to, and has been modeled after the ecosystem of the dense forest around it. Designers of the city began asking the question of how the city and surrounding area can be hit with monsoons without losing of all of its soil. Designers began to study the ecosystem and started to consider how rainwater-storage systems could be designed to mirror the trees that take in the water during the rainy season and store it for later ( The designers also looked at designs that would help slow down the speed of the rainfall- which leaves in a forest do. They noticed that in a forest there are many levels like that of shrub layer, mid-level tree layer and then a canopy layer all which slow the speed of rain so when it hits the ground, it can be absorbed quickly (Citylab). The designers noted that the issues with the built environment is made up of vertical structures which is hit with maximum velocity by the rain. The major builders and designers in Lavasa plan to build more infrastructure that mimics the surrounding natural environment while keeping the theme of urban sustainability in mind while trying to house masses of new people. They are tackling the issues of drought, erosion, and monsoons which threaten the city by continually modeling the city after nature.

More Bicycles in Chicago

Many cities are now trying to use more sustainable and use less energy in the process. Some of the projects have more renewable energy uses. This helps with saving energy instead of using a lot of natural gas and coal. Chicago has one of the biggest climate changes recently with mild winters and extreme temperatures in the summer time. All these can be fixed if Chicago can further develop their transportation system. With Chicago being one of the biggest cities in the United States, carbon dioxide from people driving their cars have been an issue. With the limited green spaces in Chicago, carbon dioxide has been trapped in the atmosphere. With more than 50% of people get to commute by driving cars, it can be lowered by more people biking because about 2% of people bike to school.

An example of the transportation system that can be future developed is the Divvy bike system. Divvy has been around for awhile and can use more human energy instead of driving a car around. This can help reduce the carbon dioxide that is in the air and limit amount of natural gas and natural oil usage. Divvy in Chicago has given more of a faster and more fun way to get to point A to point B. Instead of riding the bus or driving a car around, it helps with giving a good cardio workout to the person and it saves on how much people spend on refilling their gas. Since there have been more and more

If this project can be expanded to more parts of Chicago, it can help a lot of people and the environment. Instead of polluting the air so much from cars, Divvy can give people exercise and money saving. Since Divvy haven’t been introduced in like parts of south side of Chicago and parts of the west side of Chicago. Also, if we can find a way to get biking to work in the winter time in Chicago, then there can be more people on bikes than taking any cars or public transportation.