Author Archives: harry

comments to readings for April 6

1. The urban sustainability index is a proposal to measure the performance of cities in five sustainability categories which include: how well the cities are meeting the needs of their citizens, resource efficiency, environmental cleanliness, built environment and lastly their commitment to future sustainability.

2. The three components that I want to discuss and to analyze if they are achievable are: basic needs, built environment and commitment to future sustainability.
Basic needs are the measurements of the water access rate, the living space (square meters per capita), doctors per capita and student-teacher ratio in primary school. These four indicators can easily be measured through data obtained by several government agencies and are available online.

Built environment: Is the measure of urban density (persons per square kilometer), mass transit usage, public green space and building heating efficiency. The first can be measured through the city demographics information obtained from the city’s council. The second can be obtained by using the population number and information provided by mass transit authorities. The third is a physical measure of space which can be calculated by government engineers. And finally the fourth is obtained by the heating and ventilation agency affiliated with the department of buildings of the city.

Commitment to future sustainability is a measure of the number of environmental professionals pre capita, and the amount of environmental sanitation funds per GDP. The first can be obtained by collecting information from private and public groups of professionals who deal with the environmental issues. The second can be obtained by the city’s budget in the sanitation department and using the nations or city’s GDP available from the department of finance.

Comments on March 9 Readings

1. The arguments made for greening the GDP are that one the GDP is a false indicator of how rich a country is because it does not account for the pollution, the carbon dioxide emissions, the deteriorating infrastructure and the depletion of almost every single asset a country has or produces. The GDP just measures the gains and not the losses, So you do not know how rich a country really is if you don’t account for these losses. Achieving a Green GDP has its challenges and one of them is that you cannot quantify the air people breathe or count the rain or trees lost or burnt down daily to produce all the goods and provide all the services needed to make that GDP go higher. Another challenge is the proof needed to persuade the world’s accountants and economists that finding a mathematical formula to calculate this Green GDP is real and plausible.

2. The weaknesses in the way that GDP is calculated according to Rowe and Silverstein are many but they arise from several important factors: One is the public’s health, which means anytime people get obese or get sick from malnutrition they end up going to gyms and doctors and therapy sessions for their bad eating habits and this results in millions of dollars spent by consumers or patients in this case on stuff that they probably didn’t need if they were healthy but all this money spent is considered growth in the GDP index. Another factor is the one of debt almost every American has credit cards or loans from banks , the amount of money allocated is gigantic and this supposedly indicates growth in the GDP index, but when people are losing their homes or going to jail and then the banks end up profiting this is not a measure of growth but still then the GDP goes up. In spite of all this comes another factor directly related to debt, the one of stress, where Rowe and Silverstein explain that a person living in America is made to conform to all of this by believing that having credit cards and getting loans is a way to go up and make a better life, ignoring the fact that you end up being stressed out trying to do these things and end up going to psychologists to give you pills for your anxiety or end up eating junk food deteriorating your health. This is a great percentage of Americans who suffer from this, but here again, there is a lot of money spent on mental health and this is accounted for in the GDP, which is ironic to say that, you are trying to cure something and create other problems for yourself but spend lots of money doing so. And others profit from this and again they call it growth.

Brooklyn Navy Yard

My overall experience at  the Brooklyn Navy Yard was one of the most interesting ones that I ever had as a New York resident for many years. The Brooklyn Navy Yard gives all of us a great lesson on how efficient and creative people can be when they are put together in a closed-knit community. Because for me the Navy Yard is a small community with a lot of organization that can achieve all its financial and environmental goals in the best possible way with less damaging effects on our ecosystem. The tour also taught me how important it is that if all of New York implements the systems for energy production they can change this city for the better and why not be an example for the whole nation and even the whole world. The term sustainability is being used a lot nowadays but if you visit the navy yard you will come to understand what it means and how better our lives can be if the whole city got together and put the navy yards methods to practice. I think this visit was a memorable one and very educational for a person who wants to explore other methods for finding other energy efficient production methods.

IMG_0855The extensive green roof system, which has plants (seedum plants) that are low maintenance and are used to absorb a lot of the water from the rainfall. The solar panel to the left of the picture is part of a solar thermal system which provides hot water to the building.

This is the outside of building 92. You can clearly see the large metal screen covering the building which keeps the building from getting too hot by reflecting the sunlight but allowing some light to get through the holes for visibility. The image is taken from an old picture of the USS Brooklyn as it was left in 1936.

This is the outside of building 92. You can clearly see the large metal screen covering the building which keeps the building from getting too hot by reflecting the sunlight but allowing some light to get through the holes for visibility. The image is taken from an old picture of the USS Brooklyn as it was left in 1936.