At the New York Times Climate Forward Summit, Bill Gates said that planting trees to solve the climate crisis is “complete nonsense.” He proposed instead that we invest in companies like Climeworks, whose scrubber technologies capture carbon dioxide directly from the air.
Solving the climate crisis goes beyond simply removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; it’s also about preserving and restoring functional ecosystems, and trees play a critical role in many of them. We’ve lost 35% of forests in the past 300 years. The United Nations Environment Program quantified the Earth’s Forest area following the last ice age, and they estimate that the global number of trees has fallen by about 46% since the start of modern human civilization.
Trees and forests provide human communities with what we call Ecosystem Services. In addition to producing fiber, oxygen, and food, forests act as carbon sinks that absorb and hold onto carbon emissions.
The Ecosystem Services provided to us by trees and forests are wide and varied:
- Forests provide us with food like nuts and fruits and are home to many game species humans hunt for sustenance.
- They shade and cool our homes and cities, mitigating the impact of the urban heat island effect. Transpiration from trees further cools the atmosphere like giant swamp coolers.
- Trees stabilize soil and hold onto large amounts of water. With large-scale weather events becoming increasingly common, the ability of our landscapes to withstand these events is increasingly important.
- In addition to preventing soil loss in rain events, trees slow stormwater run-off and the potential for flooding and support stormwater infiltration, recharging groundwater.
- Trees provide critical habitat and promote biodiversity in both natural and urban ecosystems.
- Forests and other nonagricultural lands absorb a net of 13% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, reducing the greenhouse effect and, in turn, releasing oxygen.
- Trees help to make our streets safer by changing the scale of the road, influencing driver perception, and slowing them down.
- Stress relief researchers have found that certain natural scenes are visually appealing and stress-relieving. Exposure to natural patterns and fractals created by trees can reduce stress by up to 60%.
- People have a sense of history and tie to culture and community in old trees. Mature trees instill a sense of establishment and security, are stately, and have withstood the test of time, often for generations. The Banyon tree in Lahaina is an excellent example.
Technology is only part of the solution.
Climate Change didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight or even in the next 20 years. While scrubber technologies like Climeworks are encouraging, they only solve a narrow portion if the problem. It will take more than purchasing a carbon offset plan to reverse climate change. Also, is it just me, or does the idea of industry owning and controlling clean air sound a bit foreboding? Does this solve the problem? Or are we just handing the climate over to industrialists and billionaires? It may sound enticing to try and pay our way to a healthy planet, but there’s no way around it – technology is only PART of the solution – we still need to do the work. Think of scrubbers like a ventilator in an I.C.U. They may keep the patient alive, but they don’t make that patient healthy again.
What CAN we do?
An effective and socially sustainable long-term solution for humanity must come from the range of diverse communities of society, not the 1% alone. We have the potential power of 7.8 billion humans to regenerate life-sustaining ecosystems around the globe and solve the climate problem. One person in rural Indonesia will likely never have the resources to build and operate a scrubber perpetually. However, they can plant trees and rebuild ecosystems within their community in their lifetime. Those local communities also carry generations of valuable knowledge and understanding of their ecosystems and how to support the generation of ecosystem services best. Between 2000 and 2020, the amount of forest increased by 1.3 million square kilometers, an area larger than Peru, according to the World Resources Institute, with China and India leading the way. While those trees won’t sequester much carbon in the first five years, they will over their lifetime. Healthy forests are regenerative. They replace themselves in perpetuity. What’s the lifespan of a scrubber?
The best practice for our involvement as community builders in reforestation and urban forest development means involving local people from the beginning to the planning stage and on through to the delivery and management of the forest, be it a natural condition or the forest within their own neighborhood. It is local communities that will often look after the forest, prepare the land, plant the trees, and maintain the site, all of which diversify local employment and improve livelihoods. Prioritizing reforestation and management of forests, both in rural and urban settings, is crucial for the longevity of our communities and planet. We must think and plan in the scope of decades and centuries, not the latest news cycle.
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
When an old person plants a tree they know well that they will likely not live to see the plant grow up to bear fruits or enjoy its shade, still, they do it so that future generations will benefit from it.
Trees are a key component of any sustainable and resilient community.
They provide us with many practical benefits like:
- Food, like nuts and fruits
- Shade to cool our homes and cities, mitigating the impact of the urban heat island effect. Transpiration from trees further cools the atmosphere like giant swamp coolers.
- Trees make our streets safer by changing the scale of the street, influencing driver perception, and slowing them down.
- Trees hold lots of water in a rain event, slowing stormwater run-off and the potential for flooding.
- Forests and other nonagricultural lands absorb a net of 13 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
- Trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere, reducing the greenhouse effect, all while releasing oxygen.
- Stress relief-researchers have found that certain works of art or natural scenes are visually appealing and stress-relieving – and one crucial factor is the presence of the repetitive patterns called fractals. Exposure to natural patterns & fractals like trees can reduce stress by up to 60%.
- People have a sense of history in old trees. Mature trees instill a sense of establishment and security. They are stately and have withstood the test of time, often for generations. The Banyon tree in Lahaina is an excellent example.
The average lifespan of a newly constructed house is 70–100 years, assuming exceptional maintenance. The lifespan of trees can be as much as 300 years or more, depending on the species. The growing conditions we provide for them will dramatically impact lifespan. Given the right conditions to thrive, trees can outlive many of our homes by generations, providing all the benefits listed above for decades and even centuries.
Trees should be considered a critical part of future urban infrastructure development and the design of our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. They cannot be an optional item, planted when all other needs, real or perceived, are met.
Those of us who work in community development or “city building”, as we often refer to it at Consilium
Design, understand that the noted Greek proverb applies to much more than the planting of trees. The work we do to create great places for living should focus on more than a flashy branding campaign to get the sale of a new home to the first homeowner. It should be focused on how we build places that will be “home” for generations to come.
When we advocate through our designs for narrower streets, it’s not just to save our client money. It’s to reduce the amount of impervious asphalt and concrete we introduce into the environment, the pollution created by its manufacture, and the expense of perpetual maintenance. It’s because narrower streets are safer streets. It’ because land not used for streets can be land for homes, open space, and biodiversity within the community.
When we design and advocate for higher density, It is not just for the bottom line. It is to give people more opportunities to be less automobile-dependent and have better access to transit and other community resources. It is to make housing more attainable and closer to employment.
When we integrate public spaces as the focus of our designs, we advocate for a fundamental right of a free society- freedom of movement and public assembly, in all its forms.
We are creating a backdrop for the growth of healthy and free communities.
As “city builders”, we will never live in most of the places we create, but the “trees we plant” both literally and figuratively, will provide shelter and shade for our children and many future generations.
On Monday, April 17th, the Centennial Colorado City Council unanimously approved a Preliminary Development Plan Amendment and Phase One Site Plan for Vermillion Creek. The 94-acre property abutting Cherry Creek, West of Parker Road and South of Broncos Parkway, will have up to 675 residences and 50,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving commercial development. The community will provide for diverse housing choices and architectural styles with four different home types, including townhomes, clustered single-family homes on motor courts, compact single-family homes, and traditional single-family homes. A fifth home type may be included within a planned mixed-use neighborhood commercial parcel. The concurrently approved phase one Site Plan consists of 282 residences and three home types.
Open space and pedestrian connectivity to the Cherry Creek open space is a key component of the master plan, with an interconnected system of streets and open space corridors carefully integrated into the design. Several park spaces are included, from small pocket parks to larger park spaces with turf play, play areas for varying age groups, and shelters for group gatherings.
Consilium Design is pleased to be given the opportunity to lead the design team through the entitlement process with Dewberry Engineering (civil) and LSC Engineering (transportation). Jason Monforton of Totum Management, LLC skillfully guided the team as the client representative through the entire design and entitlement process.
Arbor Day for the year 2023 is celebrated/ observed on Friday, April 28th.
Arbor Day is observed in spring in the United States but globally dates vary depending on the region’s climate and planting season. It is a holiday to encourage people to plant and care for trees.
Arbor Day and the World
Close to around 50 countries around the world celebrate Arbor Day with the holiday celebrated during tree planting season (spring) depending on where the country is located geographically, and how the weather is in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.
The origins of Arbor Day date back to the early 1870s in Nebraska City. A journalist by the name of Julius Sterling Morton moved to the state with his wife, Caroline, in 1854, a little more than 10 years before Nebraska gained its statehood in 1867. The couple purchased 160 acres in Nebraska City and planted a wide variety of trees and shrubs in what was primarily a flat stretch of the desolate plain.
Morton also became the editor of the state’s first newspaper, Nebraska City News, which was a perfect platform for Morton to spread his knowledge of trees… and to stress their ecological importance to Nebraska. His message about tree life resonated with his readers, many of whom recognized the lack of forestation in their community. Morton also became involved with the Nebraska Board of Agriculture.
On January 7, 1872, Morton proposed a day that would encourage all Nebraskans to plant trees in their community. The agriculture board agreed, and after some back-and-forth about the title—the event was originally going to be called “Sylvan Day” in reference to forest trees—Morton convinced everyone that the day should reflect the appreciation of all trees, and “Arbor Day” was born.
The First Arbor Day
With the seeds of interest already planted in the minds of devoted Nebraska City News readers, the first ever Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872, and was a wild success. Morton led the charge in the planting of approximately 1 million trees. Enthusiasm and engagement were aided by the prizes awarded to those who planted trees correctly.
The tradition quickly began to spread. In 1882, schools across the country started to participate, and more than a decade after its introduction, Arbor Day became an official state holiday in Nebraska in 1885. April 22 was initially chosen because of its ideal weather for planting trees and in recognition of Morton’s birthday.
Arbor Day Becomes A National Holiday
It wasn’t until 1970, however, that Arbor Day became recognized nationwide thanks to the efforts of President Richard Nixon. This move was in line with other environmentally friendly actions taken by Nixon in the 1970s, including the passing of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Protection Act, along with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Although some states celebrate Arbor Day at different times of the year to ensure that the trees are in the best environment to thrive, the national observance falls on the last Friday in April. And although Julius Morton died in 1902, well before the holiday was given a formal day of observance across the country, he is still commemorated in Washington, D.C. in a statue dedicated to the “Father of Arbor Day” in the National Hall of Fame.
Morton’s words about Arbor Day resonate strongly today, as climate change becomes a growing threat: “Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.”
- Hold an Arbor Day ceremony and honor the good stewards in your community.
- Organize a Big Tree or Oldest Tree search within your community.
- Plant a tree.
- Host a reception to honor the Tree Board members in your community.
- Write a story, produce a play, or present a skit about trees.
- Choose a public park or downtown area to clean up.
- Read a book about trees.
- Hold an Arbor Day Birthday Party for the community.
- Sponsor a craft show featuring exhibitors who engage in crafts with natural materials.
- Schedule classes on tree pruning, tree selection, tree identification and tree planting.
- Hold a Read-In at the library.
- Host a concert.
- Sponsor a poster contest, poetry contest or tree trivia contest.
- Organize a tree identification hike.
- Volunteer with a local tree-planting organization.
- Encourage neighborhood organizations to hold Arbor Day block parties.
Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.”
Earth Day was created to help bring awareness and support for environmental protection around the world. The day was born out of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
Earth Day was celebrated in the United States for the first time on April 22, 1970. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational programs across the country.
EARTHDAY.ORG (EDO), the global organizer of Earth Day and the largest recruiter of environmental movements worldwide, announced today the theme for Earth Day 2023 – “Invest in Our Planet.”
Investing in a green economy is the only path to a healthy, prosperous, and equitable future.
What can you do to celebrate?
Earth Day ideas for the community
Earth Day can be a great opportunity to engage with your local community. Use these Earth Day 2023 ideas to spark inspiration for reconnecting everyone with nature — while connecting with one another.
1. Organize a nature walk and scavenger hunt
Looking for a way to explore some natural beauty in your immediate community? Organized nature walks are a popular option. Want to add a fun challenge to gamify your walk and get guests to work together? Earth Day scavenger hunt ideas will do the trick. Invite your guests to look for nature-themed items on their scavenger hunt, such as specific flowers, trees, or even local animal life. If organizing a walk, think about the accessibility of your chosen route. For example, could your chosen area be explored by guests using a wheelchair or pushing a stroller?
2. Host a tree planting day
Planting trees is a timeless way to celebrate Earth Day while doing some good for your local environment and developing your green thumb. You’ll need to identify a spacious area to plant seedlings and secure the appropriate permissions. You’ll also need to obtain the correct native seedlings and tube stock to ensure you don’t disrupt the ecosystem.
3. Organize an eco-market
Get some local eco-market vendors to put together an Earth Day-themed marketplace. Earth Day booth ideas include locally produced snacks, crafts, and fiber products. Also, consider including stalls for recycling appliances and books.
4. Host a car trunk/yard/garage sale
Encourage secondhand shopping in your community with a yard or car trunk sale. Attendees can get to know their neighbors while preventing secondhand goods from going to the landfill.
5. Organize a forest bathing session
A practice that originated in Japan, forest bathing is a traditional form of ecotherapy that entails spending time in nature. Invite guests to embrace their natural surroundings and use their senses to soak up the atmosphere. This can be a great way to boost feelings of tranquility and improve mental well-being.
6. Educate on the environment
Arm your attendees with knowledge via an educational event. You can invite local subject matter experts to offer tips and tricks. This will help community members understand how to combat climate change’s harmful effects.
7. Lay on a community picnic
If you’re more of a foodie, tempt your guests by hosting an outdoor picnic in a scenic spot. Consider catering the event with picnic hampers, or doing it potluck-style. Remember to clean up any litter after the event.
8. Recognize progress
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are initiatives to reduce climate change. Recognize milestones and small successes by looking back on the progress of previous years.
Workshop ideas for Earth Day
One way to inspire a hands-on approach is to arrange a skill-sharing workshop. Draw on our Earth Day marketing ideas so that you can create an event that will equip attendees with practical skills. If you’re new to teaching, fear not — we’ve got you covered with our list of workshop ideas.
9. Make a bird feeder or house
Birdhouses and bird feeders are classics for a reason. These items are beautiful for outdoor decor. Building a birdhouse is also a nature-friendly pastime that helps local wildlife thrive. To save on costs, consider charging a fee for any supplies you need to provide. Or ask attendees to bring their own.
10. Build a veggie patch
Help your guests to learn more about living off the land by building a veggie patch as a group. Growing your own food has excellent benefits for the environment. It’s also a good opportunity to sell seedlings and other gardening supplies.
11. Create a compost heap
Home composting is a simple but effective way to be more environmentally friendly. Run a session that teaches attendees how to build and use compost bins.
12. Teach a cooking class
Mark Earth Day with a cooking class specializing in vegetarian and vegan dishes. Cooking meat-free meals can show your guests that they can lower their carbon footprints while indulging in delicious homemade food.
13. Teach a sewing lesson
One way that various organizations are attempting to limit environmental harm is by banning plastic bags. Contribute to the cause by creating a workshop that teaches attendees how to sew and mend. Guests can craft their own reusable shopping bags and learn to fix clothes that they would otherwise throw away.
14. Put on an upcycling workshop
Upcycling can help reduce waste. Host a class and show attendees how they can transform common household goods into brand-new items. Activities could include:
- Turning tin cans into plant holders
- Using toilet paper rolls for kids’ toys/art projects
- Taking milk cartons and making them into bird feeders
- Creating a bulletin board out of wine corks
- Making coffee cans into pencil holders
This article is a repost. The original article, titled “Redlands 360 development offers outdoor recreation and amazing views” was written by Stephanie Moos and published on April 16th, 2023 in The Daily Sentinel
The Redlands 360 housing development is an exciting masterplanned community that began the first phase of home construction in fall 2022.
Boasting 600 acres of land and an adjacent 35-acre BLM parcel, this property was initially intended to be an executive golf course 20 years ago but was left untouched. Now, the Redlands 360 development will offer a variety of housing options featuring expansive recreational amenities within the Grand Junction community.
As the Grand Valley’s first master- planned community, the Redlands 360 development project will include a diverse variety of residential properties and recreational opportunities.
Canyon Rim 360, one of the premier subdivisions in the project, features 22 lots, most of which are under contract with four builders – Distinctive Design Build, Maves Construction, Fixture Homes and Goetzmann Homes.
Homeowners can create their dream home with the subdivision’s architectural guidelines, and they can purchase the property directly from the builder. There are many hiking and biking trails accessible to residents and the public. Expansive open space and a network of trails offering recreational opportunities are an integral part of the master-planned community.
The homes in Canyon Rim 360 will be predominantly custom homes with roughly half-acre lots. However, in future phases of the development, the developers plan to incorporate a mix of housing types, including multifamily, single-family, patio homes, and townhomes.
There will be strict architectural design guidelines, and a rigorous internal review process for all design, site plans, drainage, grading and other building aspects of the project. The goal is to create a community that will be architecturally consistent, while still allowing for elevated elements of design.
Redlands 360 Filing 1 is currently in the final phase of city approval, and it will consist of 51 single-family lots in the vicinity of Easter Hill. The existing trailhead parking lot at Easter Hill will be expanded and graded to improve trail access and increase available parking so more people can enjoy the trails and open space. The property will remain accessible to the public throughout the construction process.
The Redlands 360 housing development is an exciting master-planned community that began the first phase of home construction in fall 2022.
STEPHANIE MOOS/ REAL ESTATE WEEKLY
Canyon Rim 360, one of the premier subdivisions in the project, features 22 lots, most of which are under contract with four builders.
Shuck Chapman Cos. received unanimous Westminster City Council approval Oct. 24 for the Novera Business District (previously named Foster Farms). The preliminary development plan for the 80-acre property abutting Interstate 25 north of 136th Avenue is aligned with the city of Westminster’s vision as a key employment hub and major northern gateway to the city. Proximity to the St. Anthony North Health Campus makes it ideal for medical offices, research and development labs, medical facilities, and retail users. The Novera vision creates a vibrant employment center, attracting high-profile tenants; is a catalyst for local investment, job creation, and additional sustainable tax base; and creates a new and expanding employment base for the city of Westminster.
The Novera Business District Master Plan:
- Responds to the ongoing changing demand for office and employment uses, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and brought about by rapidly expanding internet communication and information sharing that has dramatically changed the nature of work in many industries, and is also a response to continuing significant job growth in the health care and life sciences industry along the Front Range.
- Supports important public policy by creating opportunities for employment and job growth in a mixed-use campus setting with a focus on land use diversity, multimodal transportation, connectivity and sustainability.
Guiding principals for Novera include:
- Creating an integrated open space system and multi-modal transportation network. Including access to public transit, access to regional recreation, and an interconnected bicycle and pedestrian trail system that improves walkability and safe, convenience pedestrian access.
- Maintaining Westminster’s high-quality design and community character with development that maintains the enhanced public realm and architectural character of the community while considering limited natural resources.
- Using sustainable design and construction practices, with a focus on site, infrastructure, landscape and building design.
A business improvement district has been approved by City Council for Novera.
As with most large-scale phased developments, this is an important finance mechanism needed to construct and maintain the infrastructure necessary to support the business district in the current competitive environment. In this case, the primary focus of Novera is on commercial and nonresidential development types. In addition to having traditional government powers to finance, construct, operate and maintain public infrastructure, BIDs are a means to improve business attraction and retention, further enhancing the competitiveness of Novera Business District within the marketplace by allowing it to attract and retain desirable businesses and tenants.
Novera is the largest vacant, contiguous property in Westminster with significant I-25 visibility, which is beneficial for office, hospitality and commercial development. Adding daytime population will further energize Westminster’s North I-25 Focus Area. To finally accomplish these entitlement milestones for Novera took a collaborative effort with numerous stake holders: city officials and staff, designers and consultants. According to Eric Chekal, vice president with Schuck Chapman Cos., “All involved are looking forward to the next evolutionary stage of this property, bringing Novera to market. The city of Westminster and Schuck-Chapman Cos. have invested a lot of resources into the area surrounding Novera and in the entitlement process to achieve a common vision. We have faith in this new planning and design approach and are very excited to soon realize the results of this investment with the vertical development of Novera,”
Consilium Design will continue to be integrally involved with the design and development of Novera as will Craig Paton with Transwestern, who is leading the marketing and brokerage responsibilities.
As water costs continue to rise across the country, and some areas face droughts, aridification and water supply constraints, water efficiency strategies in residential construction can play an important role, and provide multiple benefits for builders and consumers alike.
“Conservation is the No. 1 technique — finding ways to use less water,” stated Craig Karn, principal at Consilium Design in Denver and vice chair of the Sustainability and Green Building Subcommittee, who also chaired NAHB’s Water Task Group. “And the secret to conservation is building awareness.”
One way in which NAHB is working to build awareness is through NAHB’s recently released A Builder’s Toolkit for Water. The toolkit not only explores issues surrounding water management, but also provides case studies that highlight how different areas across the country have tackled key issues such as water conservation, flooding, and more.
The toolkit also includes helpful tips for builders to share with homeowners to help them improve their own conservation efforts.
“We must learn to live better using less water,” Karn added. “We can help consumers be better water stewards by educating them on everything from the drip irrigation system to how they can best use their smart water meter.”
The toolkit is available on nahb.org.
To learn more about water issues impacting the western region of the United States and what builders can do, check out this Q&A with Craig Karn.
Congratulations to Shuck Chapman Companies for receiving unanimous approval of the master plan for Foster Farm on October 24 by the Westminster City Council. The Preliminary Development Plan for the 80-acre property abutting I 25 north of 136th Avenue includes a broad mix of retail, office, medical, and flex office-industrial uses in a sustainable, open space focused setting. The master plan approval is an innovative response to dramatic changes in the workplace in the post pandemic world.
Consilium Design is proud to be a part of the Foster Farm development team, leading the planning, landscape architecture, and entitlement process. We are excited about moving forward on next steps in the design and development process with our client and the City of Westminster.