Andrea Brennen

Andrea Brennen

Posts by This Writer

9 years 9 months ago

Two researchers from the Fluid Interfaces group at MIT’s Media Lab have developed a novel way to manage sustainable development work in post-crisis zones. Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliot are applying their ideas to post-quake-Haiti, and the outcome is called Konbit. In their words, Konbit is “a service that helps communities rebuild themselves after a crisis by indexing the skill sets of local residents, allowing NGOs to find and employ them.” Basically, Konbit is an online database of available skills in a particular area, with an...


9 years 9 months ago

It is a common perception that building green costs more. This is because a green building typically requires higher initial costs during the design and construction process. While the higher initial investment pays off over the lifetime of the building, the increased cost upfront remains a deterrent. The tendency to focus on initial costs instead of long-term costs is exacerbated by the fact that in many situations the party developing the project is not planning to maintain it over the long term; therefore, the notion of a long-term...


9 years 9 months ago

Before you can figure out how to make your building greener, it’s helpful to determine how much energy it really uses. Where are the inefficiencies? How much energy is being wasted? Which systems are most in need of improvement? While keeping track of a building’s energy footprint can be complicated, confusing, and time consuming, the process just got a little bit easier, at least if you ask the folks at the Boston-based sustainable development consultancy, New Ecology Inc. They recently launched a new on-line tool, called WegoWise, that helps you monitor...


9 years 9 months ago

Bill Mitchell, director of the Smart Cities research group at the MIT Media Lab, widely renown urban theorist, and former dean of MIT’s school of Architecture and Planning passed away on Friday June 11, after a long battle with cancer.

Mitchell’s Smart Cities research group investigates ways to integrate design and technology into urban environments, in an effort to make cities more efficient in terms of their resource use and more responsive to the needs of the people who live there. Mitchell viewed the city of the future as...


9 years 9 months ago

Sustainable Development for who?

This is the final post in a four-part-series investigating the idea of sustainable development in relation to recent construction in Green Point, the neighborhood where much of Cape Town’s World Cup activity is taking place. This post focuses specifically on the Cape Town Stadium and how notions of public access inform an idea about sustainable development. Each post raises...


9 years 10 months ago

Sustainable development in Green Point? Yesterday’s post introduced the story of the Rockwell Building, built atop what was, historically, a burial ground for Cape Town’s under class. Human remains were unearthed during the construction process and, after some serious public debate, were moved to an ossuary at the newly-built Prestwich Street Memorial. Despite the fact that the memorial glosses over the...


9 years 10 months ago

How sustainable is the new development in Green Point?

The World Cup Soccer Stadium looms over Cape Town’s Green Point neighborhood, an area that has benefited from a significant amount of recent urban development. Determining how sustainable this development is, requires looking not only at the buildings themselves, but...


9 years 10 months ago

The FIFA World Cup begins on Saturday and when it does, all eyes in Cape Town, South Africa will be focused on one landmark: the newly-constructed soccer stadium. The World Cup has inspired a vast amount of new construction across Africa and my next few posts will take a look at how sustainable this development really is. I'll focus on Cape Town, specifically, because I was recently there doing research on this very topic and because this research provided me the unique opportunity to speak with some very...


9 years 10 months ago

Environmentalists might argue that rock climbing is environmentally damaging; climbing is responsible for an increased traffic to outdoor areas which, of course, can lead to things like pollution, disruption of wildlife habitats, and destruction of biodiversity. However, rock climbing – the act and the sub-culture – cultivates a passionate attachment to, and protectiveness of, natural areas. Isn’t this worth some sort of environmental currency?

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9 years 10 months ago

There was a moment today when I wondered if I should delete the phrase “spends nearly all of her free time rock climbing” from my JustMeans bio. Okay, I’ll admit, the moment was brief, but nonetheless, while researching others’ writings about the negative environmental impacts of rock climbing, I encountered more than one example of language inflammatory enough to give me pause.

I have to believe I’m not completely alone in experiencing this feeling – a reflective insight, a worrisome hunch, a sinking sensation of doubt: is my lifestyle in sync with my ideals...


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