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Housing & urban design - Oct 16

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Vancouver: A Sustainability Geek's Dream

Clark Williams-Derry, Sightline Daily
Top five ideas to borrow from up North
... if you're a sustainability geek -- and I know you are -- there are some extra special reasons to visit Vancouver. The metro area is the home of dozens of great ideas, policies, and practices that cities all around Cascadia (and beyond) should consider emulating.

So, to pique your interest, here's a sampling of five sustainable wonders from Vancouver that are worth checking out on any visit...

1. Living tall and skinny:

Downtown Vancouver has developed a housing style all its own, characterized by tall, slender towers of condos and apartments. It's more than a fad -- it's a genuine urban sustainability solution. Tall-and-skinny towers house people efficiently (and pleasantly!) in a relatively small area, which helps curb sprawl. And they let lots of folks live close to jobs and stores, which helps cut down on driving -- reducing air pollution and climate-disrupting emissions from vehicle tailpipes. ...

2. No highways: ...
3. Farms near the city: ...
4. Refillable beer bottles: ...
5. Transit galore: ...

(13 October 2008)

Energy-Efficient Mortgages

Bill Paul, Energy Tech Stocks
Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Role Energy Efficient Mortgages Could Play in Dealing with Credit Crisis?
Energy efficient mortgages (EEMs) would appear to have a key role to play in dealing with the mortgage meltdown that is at the heart of the global credit crisis.

Most houses, even new ones, are energy inefficient. By adding insulation, changing appliances, improving heating and cooling systems, and so on, tens of millions of homes could be made more energy efficient in a short period of time. An energy efficient home costs less to own because its utility bills are substantially lower. Thus by making millions of homes more energy efficient, tens of millions of Americans would have a better chance of keeping a roof over their heads – and even having a few bucks left over at the end of the month.

EEMs have been written for years by government and some private lenders. With an EEM, a homeowner includes the cost of energy efficiency improvements in his home mortgage. While this results in an increase in the homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment, the increase is more than offset by lower utility bills. The homeowner winds up paying less per month for a house that is worth more.
(15 October 2008)

Cuba's eco-friendly houses
Gail Boserio, Breakfast, ABC (Australia)
The collapse of the Soviet Union during the 1980s had a dramatic effect on Cuba's economy, and one of the hardest-hit areas was the energy-intensive building construction industry. With a 75% drop in the supply of cheap energy, building construction materials could no longer be supplied, leading to a decrease in construction and the deterioration of housing stock.

But the bright side of this was the emergence of a sustainable, eco-friendly method of building, which has also proved particularly resilient in disaster prone areas.

Professor Fernando Martirena
University of Santa Clara, Cuba and winner of the 2007 UN World Habitat Award
(15 October 2008)

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