Detroit Green Alley Whether there be clouds, smog, tall building or fog: Let there be green! From darkened alleyways to skyscraped cities, eyesores become a limitless resource for increasing surrounding property values, and oxygenating the connection between people of growing communities. In our never ending effort to fuel community revitalization, smart utilization of space is an unavoidable necessity and quite an opportunity. So, where is the space for green? Look around, and when you do, get creative. Potential green space can be found almost anywhere your eyes rest. Remember Chicago's Parklets? Now lets get permanent. Until there is airborne green space, the sky is the limit~ For where we create it, and how we fund it.
The most urban of environments hunger for green space, and with creativity, inspiration begets more inspiration. Green space reduces the carbon foot print of structures. The larger the building, the greater is the need for green. When I was a child, I was able to find green space almost anywhere that I walked. Many of us have watched the ground dwindle away, as progress presses on above. Yet, there are some notable building designs playing a pivotal role in how we imagine placing sustainable green space that can, and has, powered community revitalization.
Vertical Gardens Create Urban Renewal
Environmentally friendly, and cost efficient, these living walls create rural green benefit in the heart of urban chaos. Where tall buildings can create drab, grey shadows on the pedestrians below, people become accustomed to traveling fast, with only their destination and haste in focus. The awe of surprise in randomly placed green space adds to general human enrichment and well-being. Patrick Blanc, often referred to as the Godfather of vertical gardens, created living walls to enrich the lives of passersby, and to economize for those inside. The horticulture composing these walls decreases the overall temperature of the buildings the plants blanket. Aha! beauty, added oxygen, decrease of the buildings carbon footprint, and a natural reduction in energy consumption. In fact, heat naturally builds up in cities, as the solar radiation is absorbed by roads and buildings, depending on what materials they are comprised of. Leaves bed a much different outcome, as plant surfaces maintain ambient temperature around them up to about 5 *C and are often even cooler. Especially suited to city life, the living walls, act as water treatment cells filtering slight pollution by absorbing disolved nutrients, making a great use of waste water. Circulating water, that is less likely to evaporate serves vertical gardens in hotter/drier climates. No matter where you live, and the climate that accompanies it, green space is essential to all living beings, and city-life doesn't have to detract from it.
Related: The Ripple Effect
World's Tallest Tree- Hong Kong Concept Tower
A dream that could inspire an Eco-Wise legacy
Studio Cachoua Torres Camiletti designed a green skyscraper to serve a multitude of sustaining purposes. In fact, the design made consideration for just about every basic human need. With braces, trusses, and bridges, connecting commercial and residential communities of two separate towers, vertical green space is woven within. Looking like a magical tree with a split trunk, the tower could be powered entirely by renewable energy. The roofs with solar panels, built-in rain collection & irrigation, fish farms, and rice terraces punctuate China’s historic ties to diet and agricultural technology. While there are no confirmed plans to actually build the skyscraper any time soon, the concept may just be the beginning of a creatively green, community sustaining legacy.
Related: The Solar Revolution
Green Alley Project, Community Inspired & Crowdfunded
Dark Corridor to Community Revitalization
From idyllic concepts to local place-making reality, even alleyways become a venue for shaping public space into to hubs for a successful & healthy community. Through a combination of a clever State program and community crowdfunding, Detroit’s cultural renaissance has come to life: A crowdfunded community, now on the rise. The focus of place-making in community revitalization through the creation of public space for the enjoyment of entire communities ripples into far corners of cities. People want to enjoy living, working, and just being.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp and Michigan Municipal League encouraged the Green Alley Project with their Public Spaces Community Places campaign. Matching dollar-for-dollar, $50K was funded, with the condition that the remaining balance be raised through the Detroit-based crowdfunding group, Patronocity. The funding campaign launched on July 9, 2014, and efforts to raise $50K to create community gathering spaces in otherwise dilapidated alley ways, closed on July 26, 2014. Yes, in just 17 days, $52,290 was raised as 136 individuals contributed $2,290 beyond original goal. When a State-based program not only recognizes the potential for crowdfunding but also encourages it, you can be assured that we have only scratched the surface of community revitalization projects that will be realized through crowdfunding.
Why a green alley?
A negative, underutilized space, unexpectedly refurbished, spears public interest and involvement. The Green Alley Program has innovatively revitalized a city, one alley at a time. They incorporate rain gardens, permeable pavers, historic brick, LED and induction lighting, native landscaping and other place-making features. Project planners explain "We are not only improving the basic condition of our alleys, but incorporating a design aesthetic that also creates gathering spaces for district celebrations.” As the continued recognition of the importance of green space grows, real estate values rise parallel. It is no wonder that the horticulture industry is currently the largest growing agricultural focus. Smart Money Magazine reports that property values increase by approx. $4.20 per foot of proximity to a greenbelt. Project Evergreen, a national non-profit organization committed to preserving and enhancing public green space, reports that a well-chosen tree can lower residential cooling costs by 20-40%. Considering that more than 1/3 of Americans have no leisure time physical activity, the encouragement through accessibility to the most basic of space is essential. The oxygen benefits of green space partnered with the physical and mental health benefits of creating walkable cities continue to revitalize human life and neighborhoods. Let your imagination run wild and create green space now knowing that special orientation, restricted location and the availability of taxpayer dollars are no longer barriers, but opportunities. Revitalizing communities through the Green Revolution has no limits.
As a real estate investor and property owner, would you consider creating a green space on the outside of your apartment building? As a tenant, what would green space mean to your tenancy? Do you think you would occupy your residence longer? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!
This entry was originally published on June 3, 2015.