Climate Adaptation

CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Toronto must overhaul aging infrastructure to meet dramatic climate change projections, study shows

We’ll be seeing more of these aging-cities stories in the coming years. And the push-back from city and local governments will make the infrastructure issues even worse. A study will be conducted (or several studies), and it will show that cities are under-prepared to deal with the variety of climate impacts. The solutions are expensive, and benefits are difficult to quantify in the public’s mind.

This piece in the Toronto Star outlines a recent study that concludes the city’s roads and sewer systems are vulnerable to increased environmental impacts. Some members of the city council didn’t like what the study found, and they parade the usual tropes to avoid action - that investing in infrastructure based on science will kill jobs, the climate models are wrong, that climate science is incomplete, etc.

A study commissioned by the city predicts heavier rain storms, but less snow in 2040. How will the city adapt its outdated infrastructure?

Toronto must overhaul its aging infrastructure to adapt to dramatic new climate change projections — a process that could cost billions — say some councillors and environmentalists.

But some fear the city is not taking the matter seriously enough, as the chair of the Parks and Environment Committee remains skeptical of the projections.

A study commissioned by the city and set to be discussed Tuesday by the parks committee predicts temperatures about 4.4 degrees warmer and a marked increase in extreme storms by 2040.

“If people are concerned about a crumbling Gardiner, this study makes it look like a teeny, tiny pothole,” said Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “If we’re not paying attention, it will literally be catastrophic.”

The study, called “Toronto’s Future Weather and Climate Driver Study,” foresees Toronto’s climate 30 years in the future as marked by fewer but more intense storms, less snow in the winter and increased heat and humidity in the summer.

Torontonians have already braved three of the worst storms in the city’s recorded history in the past 12 years, and sweltered through the earliest known heat wave on June 19, 2012.

The city’s roads, sewers, storm drains and electrical grids were simply not built to withstand the new climate, said Councillor Gord Perks, a member of the committee.

“If you took Toronto and put it in another part of the world, our infrastructure would be wrong for that weather. This is the same kind of problem,” he said.

He said the study means the city has “billions of dollars of work to do,” including expanding the capacity of sewers and re-engineering green spaces to accommodate ponds of rainwater.

Toronto Star

urbanigation:

Toronto Path is an interconnected series of underground walkways through Toronto’s downtown. It helps promote activity during the cold and helps connect the main buildings downtown. 

(via transatlanticurbanism)

Lovely followers, does anyone have data or a before/after study that shows greenroofs have actually lowered temps in a city? Msg me here.

Toronto becomes first city to mandate green roofs

Toronto is the first city in North America with a bylaw that requires roofs to be green. And we’re not talking about paint. A green roof, also known as a living roof, uses various hardy plants to create a barrier between the sun’s rays and the tiles or shingles of the roof. The plants love the sun, and the building (and its inhabitants) enjoy more comfortable indoor temperatures as a result.

Toronto’s new legislation will require all residential, commercial and institutional buildings over 2,000 square meters to have between 20 and 60 percent living roofs. Although it’s been in place since early 2010, the bylaw will apply to new industrial development as of April 30, 2012. While this is the first city-wide mandate involving green roofs, Toronto’s decision follow’s in the footsteps of other cities, like Chicago and New York.

Under the direction of Mayor Richard Daley the city of Chicago put a 38,800 square foot green roof on a 12 story skyscraper in 2000. Twelve years later, that building now saves $5000 annually on utility bills, and Chicago boasts 7 million square feet of green roof space. New York has followed suit, and since planting a green roof on the Con Edison Learning Centre in Queens, the buildings managers have seen a 34 percent reduction of heat loss in winter, and reduced summer heat gain by 84 percent.

But lower utility bills aren’t the only benefit of planting a living roof. In addition to cooling down the city, green roofs create cleaner air, cleaner water, and provide a peaceful oasis for people, birds and insects in an otherwise polluted, concrete and asphalt-covered environment.

(via thesustainablelife)