Andrea Brennen

Andrea Brennen

Posts by This Writer

9 years 8 months ago

According to Michael Beyth, chief scientist of Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures, the idea of digging a canal to connect the Mediterranean, Red, and Dead Seas dates way back to 1855, when William Allen, in his “The Dead Sea – A New Route to India,” proposed the notion as a cheaper alternative to the Suez Canal. The idea surfaced again in Theodor Herzl’s 1902 novel, Altneuland, and Wily Ley’s Engineers’ Dreams, but was, time and again, dismissed as politically impractical. Following the 1973 oil crisis, the notion was revived as an option for hydroelectric power generation and...


9 years 8 months ago

The Israeli government, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority don’t typically agree on many things. And yes, that might very well be the understatement of the year. However, there is a World Bank-sponsored study currently underway to consider the feasibility of an ambitious project that would require these three unlikely partners not only to come to an agreement, but to cooperate long term and share energy-production and water-desalination infrastructure. The idea is to dig a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea and build a...


9 years 8 months ago

“In the future, world wars will be fought over water.”

I’ve probably heard that statement 50 times over the past few years, but I don’t think I really understood the significance, nor the importance to the notion of sustainable development, until last fall while I was in the Middle East, working on a project in the Arava Valley, where it hasn’t rained for three years. Granted, the Arava is not densely populated, but those who do live there get their water from underground aquifers which are replenished by annual rainfall…or not.

You see the problem....


9 years 8 months ago

At least … not the way it is typically done. This bold statement was the precursor to KickStart, an organization dedicated to a different kind of sustainable development. If you’re looking for the quick explanation of KickStart’s working philosophy, you can find it -- in concentrated slogan form -- on their home page: “A poor person’s top need is a way to make money.”

KickStart’s co-founders, Martin Fisher and Nick Moon, have developed their operational strategy after years of experience doing “traditional aid work” in ...


9 years 9 months ago

Architects have long found inspiration in art – from contemporary trends to tackle, to changing theories of aesthetics, to revolutionary ideas about the practice of making. When it comes to sustainable design, however, there doesn’t seem to be the same sort of aesthetic or conceptual cross-over between contemporary art and green building. This lack of cross-over is, at least in part, due to the fact that architects are taking their green cues from engineers instead. And this is a good thing – the desire to improve energy efficiency will...


9 years 9 months ago

Sustainability’s visual translation – its graphic identity, recognizable logo, distilled image – is the Venn diagram, an intersection of “Social” “Environmental” and “Economic” realms. Sustainable design, we are told, is that which satisfies the “triple bottom line,” meeting ecological and social performance goals in addition to those which are necessary to make the project financially viable. Sustainable design is functional and efficient, healthy and holistic; it is pragmatism you can feel good about.

But what is Sustainable Art? What is left over when you remove the Functionalism from Sustainability? When you...


9 years 9 months ago

Emergent Energy Group made headlines last year when Business Week named its founders, Jesse Gossett and Jayson Uppal, “America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs.” Their company is quietly changing the landscape of local energy initiatives in New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, offering innovative ideas for community-initiated sustainable energy projects and redefining the traditional role of developer...


9 years 9 months ago

A few weeks ago, the residents of Concord, Massachusetts gathered together at a Town Meeting and voted to ban the sale of bottled water. They were inspired, in large part, by an impassioned speech from 82-year-old Jean Hill, who, according to a Boston Globe article, had been lobbying her friends and neighbors for months.

Hill, according to local lore, was motivated by her grandson who, at the age of 10, introduced her to the Pacific Garbage Patch. She is quoted in the Globe as saying “All these discarded...


9 years 9 months ago

Chances are you’ve heard it somewhere before -- the claim that increases in energy efficiency (can) paradoxically lead to increases in energy use. This assertion is known in popular parlance as the Jevons Paradox. Here’s a look at the notion itself, how it is commonly (mis)applied, and what it means for sustainable development.

The Jevons Paradox, explained. William Stanley Jevons wrote a book in 1865 called The Coal Question. In it, he articulated how England...


9 years 9 months ago

The Problem: 2 billion people live in rural poverty, many without access to electricity.

A solution you might not have thought about before: Photovoltaic fabric.

The Portable Light Project is a research initiative established by Sheila Kennedy and Frano Violich, of Kennedy & Violich Architecture , that has developed a lightweight portable solar textile kit made from high brightness light emitting diodes (HBLEDs), a flexible...


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