March 6, 2007
by Kate Soto

Event: Annual Stephan Weiss Visiting Lectureship: Jean Rogers — Sustainable Development: Changing the Environment to Changing Behavior
Location: Parsons, The New School for Design, 02.27.07
Speaker: Jean Rogers, LEED AP — senior consultant, Arup
Organizer: Parsons, The New School for Design

Courtesy Arup

Redevelopment of a former Navy base in San Francisco Bay features a host of sustainable technologies.

Courtesy Arup

At this carbon-neutral event, Jean Rogers, LEED AP, senior consultant at Arup, urged designers to influence eco-friendly choices. With concepts of intergenerational equity and eco-footprints in mind, Arup is helping to master-plan two of the world’s most sustainable cities —Treasure Island in San Francisco and Dongtan in China.

Treasure Island will house its 13,500 residents near a ferry terminal. More than 6,000 daily public transit rides will be available to residents and visitors. An agricultural park in the middle of the island will grow food. The street grid orientation will maximize solar exposure and minimize wind exposure. Further efforts to reduce the island’s carbon footprint include underfloor ventilation, high-performance glazing, and southern-facing photovoltaics. Maximized surface area on roofs will export energy back to San Francisco’s power grid. Each resident will use nine acres of the planet’s resources, rather than the average 29 acres globally.

Near Shanghai lies the community of Dongtan, a Manhattan-sized stretch of reclaimed land. By implementing measures ranging from rice husk-run power plants to solar-powered water taxis, Arup intends to reduce the energy needed by 70%. Designed after Hurricane Katrina, each of the three villages will be a self-contained flood cell. Its eco-footprint equates to approximately four acres of the planet’s resources per resident, which is ideal in sustainability terms, according to Rogers.

Arup’s next step is to create a model for sustainable design that can be mass-produced and widely implemented. The firm is researching the possibility of an eco-friendly counterpart to the Chinese “superblock.” The imperative and the technology to “redesign the material basis for our civilization” exists, stated Rogers. All we need is the will.

Kate Soto is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor.