From TEDxIIT ...

TEDxIIT-2013I was very pleased this weekend to attend a TED talk. Well, not one of the big TED talks, but a local “x” one being produced by the Illinois Institute of Technology, TEDxIIT-2013.

If you’re not familiar with the TED (“ideas worth spreading”) presentations, they’ve been happening for almost 30 years now, and were originally in the realms of Technology, Entertainment, and Design … although the scope has widened over the years to be a forum for almost any sort of cutting-edge material (although Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake might have something to say in that regard). The TED web site has become quite a resource, with 1400+ videos to dig through. The “TEDx” extension was started a number of years ago, allowing independent organizations to host “TED-inspired” events under the banner of the original.

Of the presentations at this weekend’s conference, only one was really “on target” for the Green Tech Chicago blog, and that was a talk by two AS+GG architects, Sara Beardsley and Christopher Drew, who were addressing both reducing the carbon footprint of buildings and the nature of cities, and how this will have to change for the world to sustain a modern lifestyle.

I wish I had a link to point you to their talk, as it was fascinating. The whole conference was simulcast on the web, but I guess they’ve not edited the individual bits for the YouTube channel yet. Dr. Drew was nice enough to leave a print-out of their slides with me, but I wish there was a link to pass along to you for more info on this.

They started out with an interesting type of image – “how many earths” would be necessary to have eveybody on the planet live like a particular area – if India, half an Earth, if Jamica, one Earth, if the USA, just over four Earths, and if Kuwait, well that would be five and a half Earths. They had similar data graphed with one axis being development and the other being ecological footprint … the “sweet spot” on this was high development but low “footprint”, but nobody was currently in that part of the graph.

One of the notable “culprits” in this is the suburbia model of much of the US, where a lot of land is taken up by very few people, and this was contrasted with proposals of buildings in the 16, 34, 58, 118, and 210 story ranges. The efficiencies of tall building residences are remarkable (and, in the interest of transparency, I’ve lived in a 50+ story high-rise for the past 32 years, so I’m “in the choir” they’re preaching to), especially compared to suburban sprawl (with the massive amounts of fossil fuels needed to maintain that). Also, new designs and technologies are coming on line to make large buildings even more efficient.

They also touched on the Chicago Climate Action Plan, which aims to get our city “carbon neutral” by the year 2030, and featured some graphics from Towards Zero Carbon: The Chicago Central Area Decarbonization Plan, a book prepared by the AS+GG Architecture firm’s principals. Anyway, it was interesting, and I do recommend keeping an eye out for it when it shows up on the TEDx YouTube channel!

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Filed under: Green Tech Events

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