National Links: Cold Seawater to Heat a City

Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends the links to our email list. At the end of the week they take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Charlotte’s uptown highway wall: Completed in 1988, Charlotte’s I-277 cuts off the uptown area from the rest of the city by creating a big loop that has a higher collision rate than the state average. Advocates would like to fix the problem but many wonder what that might look like and whether there is enough political will to push back on NCDOT. What might it take to fix this highway mistake and maybe it should just be turned into a river. (Ely Portillo | Charlotte Magazine)

Office buildings’ largest emission is the commute: Commuting is typically a commercial building’s main indirect source of emissions. Some estimate the actual number at about 115% of the building’s own emissions.  So it’s not enough to build an efficient building, there’s a need to reduce emissions from bringing employees to the building. And with the pandemic possibly changing commuting patterns, people are looking at the trip to and from work in a different way. (Anna Staropoli | Commercial Observer)

Not everyone should have a say: More and more people are complaining that the United States can’t get stuff done fast enough and permitting and lawsuits slow projects down. The process, Jerusalem Demsas argues, is too slow and community input needs a rethink. But politicians demure when asked if the process of continuous lawsuits is causing problems because they don’t want to scare environmentalists who like the processes exactly as they are now. (Jerusalem Demsas | The Atlantic)

The hidden Costco in Mexico City: Costco has 800 big box stores around the world but while most of them are boxes, the 525K square foot one in Mexico City is completely covered by a public park. The park includes sports courts and a green roof that are meant to be the extension of an adjacent park created from a landfill that was once a sand quarry. It also acts as a wastewater treatment plant to boot. (Nate Berg | Fast Company)

Helsinki’s cold water heating solution: Cold seawater from the bottom of the Baltic could heat and cool Helsinki through underground heat pumps. Currently most buildings are warmed through a district heating system whose energy source is 75% fossil fuels. In order to cut that number to zero by 2030, the 500-megawatt heating plant should be finished in a few years. (Thomas Gualtieri and Kati Pohjanpalo | Bloomberg CityLab)

Quote of the Week

“People take for granted that rent is always going to go up. There’s so little political imagination about what could be different, and now I think that’s changing.”

Tara Raghuveer, a co-founder of KC Tenants in the New York Times discussing a growing tenants’ rights movement.

This week on the podcast, we talk about how cities generate wealth and can harness it for public good with Diana Ramirez of Harris County’s Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity; Ben McAdams, a former Salt Lake County mayor and Congress member; Matt Prewitt, president of RadicalxChange, and Joel Rogers of the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Top image: Kalasatama, Helsinki, by Joneikifi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer