Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ecological Perspectives, class updates:

Those of you who are involved in the project, but haven't been involved in the EPOD class, are often looking for updates on what we're doing and what our timelines look like. So I'm going to start posting updates.

From Dwane:

Hi Everyone,
The main project is due in 4 weeks. (that's March 23rd.)

All designers need to learn to tell compelling visual stories. For next week, you are asked to choose one of the stories below for the message content of your video project. The video needs to visually convey the fact, the motivation and the gap in a compelling way.

Evaluation will be based on the number of hits your video received, so above all, your video needs to be watched. Think of the best YouTube videos and make it like one of those - funny, extreme, etc.

We will talk about dissemination strategies and other details next week, but for this class please come prepared to deliver an entertaining, fascinating 2 minute proposal for your visualization strategy and intentions for the project.

If you have talked to me about an alternative project already, then bring your proposal for that.

The Monday lecture will be dedicated to issues of the main project. We will show examples and discuss strategies. Please save all questions for the lecture. Again, here are the choices...

Preserve more trees
1. Fact: Deforestation is the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the world, producing 20% of human-made emissions.
2. Motivation: If we stop deforestation and plant more trees, cities will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; the air will be cleaner, and we will all be healthier.
3. Gap: Canada has one of the worst environmental records in the world. We cut down 6 times more trees than we plant. We need to create a national program for urban and rural tree-planting, and strong policies to end deforestation.

Eat more plants
1. Fact: Meat production and consumption produces the 2nd largest quantity of global greenhouse gases.
2. Motivation: We would all be healthier as vegetarians; people who eat more animal fat are more likely to get cancer.
3. Gap: Health Canada recommends we eat about 15 lbs of meat per year, but Canadians actually eat more than 60 lbs per year. Canada needs to end agricultural subsidies for livestock producers and farmers who produce feed for livestock.

Create more passive houses
1. Fact: Most of the energy used to heat and cool our houses is wasted. Inefficient buildings are the 3rd largest contributor of greenhouse gases. Fixing them is one of the most attractive ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
2. Motivation: Energy savings quickly pay the cost of retrofitting leaky, inefficient houses. After payback, energy savings becomes money in the bank.
3. Gap: Inefficient construction wastes 80% of the energy we use to heat and power buildings. Canada needs to embark on a national retrofit program of all existing homes and commercial buildings. It also needs to update building codes to meet European passive house standards.

Drive more light electric cars; take more trains
1. Fact: Flying already accounts for 10% of greenhouse gases world wide, and air travel is predicted to double in the next 20 years.
2. Motivation: The owners of lightweight electric vehicles will save large amounts on fuel. Those who choose to travel longer distances by train will enjoy relaxing alternative to driving or flying, one that emphasizes the journey over the destination. Nevertheless for longer distances most people will choose to fly until governments make air travel less attractive.
3. Gap: Research shows that we will need to find ways to reduce our flying by as much as 90%. The Government of Canada needs to develop policies that discourage air travel. It also needs to develop policies that encourage hi-speed rail, lightweight electric vehicles, and walkable cities.

Kill more vampires
1. Fact: Electrical appliances, gadgets and chargers, when plugged in, use more power when off than they are used.
2. Motivation: We can save bundle if we disconnect electrical devices when they are not being used.
3. Gap: Canada needs to create an effective user-pay system for power that discourages waste and rewards radical efficiencies.

Hopefully, our project will address most of these issues in some way, when it's completed in the long term. In the short term, we're currently finalizing our objectives for the project, and thinking about the upcoming gallery show with architecture for humanity.


  1. rad:)

    meeting on saturday, probably around 1 at my place. come join us?