Our Urban Future – Achieving Greater Resiliency in the Face of Global Resource Challenges
The world’s cities are under intense pressure to address accelerating urbanization and find better ways of developing. To address this challenge we need to rethink the way we design, build and move about our cities to achieve greater resiliency and more efficient use of limited global resources. New tools and ways of thinking are needed to make major leaps and avoid failure. How can foresight thinking better prepare us for an uncertain future? What role can Big Data play to increase understanding of our current and future patterns of infrastructure use through an engineering and human lens?
- Moderator: Geoff Cape, CEO, Evergreen
- Dan Hoornweg, Chief Safety and Risk Officer, Province of Ontario
- Chris Kennedy, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto
- Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner, City of Toronto
Good afternoon. My name is Geoff Cape and I’m the moderator for this afternoon session. I have great honor and privilege of being directly involved with this project. I am the CEO of Evergreen, and we are the ones who put together the redevelopment of this site. So I have got a few anecdotes of our storylines that weave into this conversation about resilience and the future of cities and this notion of resource scarcity and the challenges we face ahead. A lot of the experiences that I’ve played with for the last several years in the redevelopment of this site have been mimicking the larger storyline globally about cities.
I am just going to set up a few ideas that organized some of the framework for this session, this panel session, and then I will quickly move on to our three panelists. The ordering of the panelists will go for more global orientation into a slightly more thematic orientation and then into a local, if not regional, orientation around Toronto. But I definitely encourage, and especially after lunch, as much interaction with the room as we can gain. We were just talking about whether or not interruptions mid-stream are appropriate, and I generally feel they are…I think they generally keep everyone on their feet. If you put your hand up and blurt out a question, and if timing feels right I will immediately put you in a place. So let’s just move this one as we do any organic moment.
This notion of the urban century is really what we are all talking about; all of you know about the characteristics of the urban century with regards to population patterns and urban design, but I wanted to set up our specific local context. This is our site. Twice this past summer, by the way…not once, but twice…we had a major flood that brought a meter of water throughout all of our buildings and flooded our site with floodwaters. So we are very…we have firsthand experience in the stuff. We should have known, and we do know. We planned this site with the idea of water as an understood variable. This is the site back in 1920s; so the site floods; we are in floodplain…we knew this. Our insurance companies had $100,000 deductible on our flood insurance package. Who would have guessed we would get flood insurance in a floodplain, but we did. They’ve ducked up the deductible to 500 grand and we are under a major question whether that flood insurance will continue. But we know that this experience, again, that we are having is like many having globally right now, where insurance companies and municipal planners and infrastructure planners are all struggling to figure out what the deal is with this so-called new normal that is emerging.
I will run through a few quick ideas. These are pictures that many of you will be aware of. This is Calgary earlier on this year; New York last year, which really tipped…I suppose Katrina really moved the big question around resiliency and climate change issues, but New York put another finer point on it. I’ve been in Southern China, in various parts of Europe, and all over the UK, etc. We have all seen water damage become a huge issue in urban design in relationship to infrastructure and how these things are handled. It’s also heat. We know that the vast quantities of North America are burning right now, and so climate change and resource scarcity is playing out on that front as well. It’s also cold. We also know how the cold has affected the UK and various parts of Europe in ways that are absolutely outside the normal band of, I would say normal. So that also has changed. Winds…there’s probably should’ve been a picture of a tornado given how much action there was in the Midwest and the tornado alley region this past year. But it is not just North America that is feeling this; it’s all over the world.
The World Economic Forum is a really interesting group of thinkers and to many, to much of an extent, actors, but this is a framework that they’ve put together that looks at global risks, and I think it’s one of the best pieces of work they do actually. They’re looking at risks through several categories. I’ve identified environmental ones, climate change related ones, but let’s recognize that there are actually five major typologies. The economic risks, which obviously we are all generally aware of, stock market collapses included. Geopolitical, which we’re seeing in many corners of the world. Societal and technological. The interesting thing that they do at the World Economic Forum is they link them, and they got this fabulous website. If you haven’t checked out their website on the risk of four [04:36] for 2013, or any prior year for that matter, you really should because this is a very dynamic site and you can click on any one of these buttons and it shows how much the green of the environment in the lower corner is linked to the purple of societal or the blue of economic, and how they’re all highly integrated risks and they play off of each other. And if one starts to collapse many others start to as well. So the interconnection of risk is a really important thing for us to make sense out of and the World Economic Forum I think is a is a global leader in making sense out of this stuff and creating frameworks for us to think about.
We all, again, know these things…this chart I find so incredible, just to show how prominent this population issue is with regards to creating the problem we face right now. We aren’t up at the top end of that blue bubble to the right there; we’re only two thirds of the way up. But then who’s to say it’s going to actually go up that high? A lot of people were making some big assumptions that we’re actually keep going up. There are lots of things that could derail that one. It’s coupled with this one, which I found also really fabulous because the purple band on the left is the population growth in any one of these cities. And the black one on the right is the footprint. So, as much as the last one…the last chart showed a massive explosion in population, the actual explosion in urban footprint is far more dramatic. It’s the combination of the two of them in the way the two of them interact that creates tremendous pressures and tensions societally and economically, etc.
We are [unclear 06:16] playing with some decisions around LRT versus Subway, and I figured that LRT would carry way more people in the end if we invested in it, but we’ll leave that conversation for a little later in the day. This pressure is being faced on infrastructure everywhere, not just here in Toronto, but elsewhere. Urban sprawl continues to play out. This is Bogot·. In here in Canada and Toronto the suburban landscape is dotted with these sorts of sterile landscapes where urban sprawl has been a little bit of a mugs game and largely driven by the financial model that it promised but is not delivering.
So you can look on the macro-level risks and macro-level issues and you get overwhelmed by them…how we handle them? I think it’s important for us in this room and elsewhere to really drive down into what are the smaller solutions that can be dealt with, what are the incremental moves? So smart buildings are not always about technology; In fact it’s more about behavioral patterns than it is about technology. I want to make sure we just move down into the small building unit in our conversation about macro-level issues of climate change, global risks, and resilience in cities, as much as we talk about the large systems.
This one…I always love this image…shows how smart we are back in…I think it’s actually Dan Hoornweg chart back in the turn-of-the-century. Energy being low in this, the bottom…the low portions of this blue chart are good places. It’s about energy use per square foot of building. So back in the turn-of-the-century we’re doing well; we’re doing about as well as we were in the turn-of-the-century around energy conservation. We haven’t gotten much smarter than we were in 1900. There is something really embarrassing about that chart as far as our ability to improve and create smart energy efficient buildings.
This is our site here; this is the floodplain we sit in, so regional thinking is highlighted by this particular site mostly because, if we sit in the valley system…for those that don’t know the ravine system of Toronto, this is a regional strategy that is fabulously unique to Toronto; we have the largest ravine system in the world, 27,000 acres created almost by accident back in the 1950s when hurricane Hazel blew through and flooded the city. And these Valley systems, five major ravine systems, were used as storm water management systems. It basically channeled the water away from sensitive residential and commercial areas, and moved water down the river leaving many portions of the city unharmed. Those that lived in the Valley at the time, they no longer live there, but we do! So accidental infrastructure using natural systems is something to think about as well.
A couple of last slides and then I’ll move into the panel very quickly. This is part of a larger study we were trying to develop here in Evergreen, looking at how much money we are projected to invest in the development of urban infrastructure globally…how much money will be spent if we maintain the current pattern of urbanization globally? The current pattern of infrastructure suggests that we will spend roughly $500 trillion on urban infrastructure. And when I say ‘urban infrastructure,’ I mean all aspects of it ñenergy buildings, transportation infrastructure. Buildings are the big ones, buildings are probably 80% of that number. That’s your house, your kitchen renovation, together with the renovation we’re planning for building [inaudible 09:49] at some point later this year.
So $500 trillion…that’s an extrapolation on other people studies. Boesel has suggested it was $350 trillion over 30 year. McKinsey puts a number at $57 trillion over 20 years, but that’s just transportation energy, water waste, and not buildings. So the big question is, what are we going to spend the money on? Are we going to continue to build the same stuff that we’ve been building for the last 50 years, which would be a complete failure in my mind? In fact it would be a complete failure, period, given the fact that the global context is changing so much. The other thing I think everybody needs to recognize is, I don’t think we actually have the resources to build that much infrastructure. I don’t think we have enough aluminum, copper, lime…we don’t have the actual raw materials to do that much building. So the big question is, what are we going to do with the investments available to us over the next 50 years? What sort of stuff can we build in the face of substantial change and resource scarcity, in the face of the need for resilience, in the face of the scarcity of the raw material that we’d traditionally drawn onto to build our cities? Lots of smart people are thinking about this stuff; companies, academics.
I am going to move to the second last slide, very quickly through it. I see six big themes in this stuff, but the panel can be better at articulating this than I am. At the system-level, there’s sustainability, resilience and efficiency for us to be thinking about our organizing policy and large-scale infrastructure agendas. At the citizen level, at the individual level, there’s just as important a set of three ideas, and one of them is quality of life as we citizens experience our cities. The second is engagement and how engaged we are as citizens in the process of making sense out of the future that we want. And the third one is equity, who is getting what assets as we build out these cities going forward.
So those are my quick three and three systems level, citizen level things we should be making sense out of. But I have the great privilege of introducing three real experts in this space. I’ve been doing this for a long time myself but these people have been doing it for longer and in many cases more deeply and more applied than me and my work in some cases. Dan Hoornweg has become a close confidant and friend and thinker and doer. He [inaudible 12:17] and spent…I got the details in front of me and I am not going to read it. Dan spent enormous amount of time…20 years – at the World Bank leading up their Urban Agenda. He’s also been an incredibly thoughtful contributor to over 400 urban projects…oh sorry, 400 cities…globally in work and is now back in Toronto working at the Ontario Institute for Technology, and is also their Chief Safety and Risk Officer for the province of Ontario, among many things, but let Dan present himself more clearly in a minute.
Chris Kennedy is Prof. in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. He has spent considerable time at the OECD, the World Bank, C40. He has a huge focus on urban infrastructure and engineering and will take us into energy primarily among other things. Again, Chris will give you a little bit more detail about his background in a minute.
Then Jennifer keesmaat who will give us a view as Chief Planner for the city of Toronto and what’s happening here in her view on citizen engagement and collaboration as a primary driver in the way she thinks of the future cities.
Enough of me. I’d love to pass it over to Dan who will organize our thinking around the global context a little bit more precisely.
Good afternoon everyone, I’m Dan Hoornweg from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, and most of the province of Ontario’s Chief Safety & Risk Officer. I wanted to go throughÖ Okay, so this…I think everybody here knows this. If you’re working in urban and you don’t know this then you’re missing something. World hit 50% urban in 2008, and if you think things are bad now, hang on to your hack as you haven’t seen anything yet. So about 3 million people a week move into cities. That’s a Calgary a day that is being built over the next 35 years. I think there’re two things in my mind that really make this hit home; one is, a Calgary every single day of the year for the next 35 years is being built in the world, and students who are graduating today in their career…not their lifetime, but their career…the world cities will double. This is a challenge and humanity has never faced anything, anywhere near this challenging. And what we do for the next 35 years? I think obviously we will sort of make or break much of the planet. This is not a coincidence.
Does anyone know what city this is? It’s Buenos Aires. It’s not a coincidence that the current Pope is from Buenos Aires. You can almost feel the shift of economic locus in the world…shifting from us, the OECD, the rich, the North to the South, to the Brazils, to the Chinas, to the soon-to-be Africas. The Pope is from Buenos Aires because there’re more people from Argentina, soon from Africa, that are Catholic. It’s an interesting sort of factoid, but again you haven’t seen anything yet. The world really is changing.
These are what I thought the big urban challenges. The ones that I wanted to focus on today. I mentioned that in the next 35 years the world cities will double, but on the current trajectory that we’re on, the surface area of the world cities will triple. Everybody who works in urban planning knows the silver bullet is density. That’s what you want to do, as much as possible, go after density as that’s how you can reduce the cost, improve quality of living, reduce emissions, etc. But almost every country is headed down the wrong path and building bigger, more sprawling out cities, and we all know that that’s not the best way to go.
Okay, this is a really good slide. That’s not there! But what it shows is that there’re 100 cities, the largest cities. If you could see the slide, almost all of the cities in the world…these are the hundred largest cities…are above that 5∞ for 550 ppm 2050. So basically this was the slide that was supposed to be afraid, be very afraid, because we are headed down very much the wrong path. And there’re many challenges facing the planet, and climate change is the one that is probably the most visceral at the moment or the most immediate anyways. This slide basically is saying that we’re already well over anywhere near hoping to make 450 ppm by 2050; we’re likely going to overshoot 550 ppm. We need to start planning as countries, as cities, as international agencies for at least a 4∞ warming world. If not, so what? That basically is guaranteed we’re going to lose 20% to 25% of the world’s biodiversity; we’re going to have probably 300 to 500 million environmental refugees, and that’s pretty well locked in. Then we’re going to double the number of cities, or the number of people in cities, on top of that.
The other big thing about climate change that really strikes me…this data is old, but whether you’re looking at countries or even within citiesÖ so somebody living in downtown Toronto versus, say, somebody living in more urban area of the GTA, or more rural area of the GTA, has an order of magnitude greater [inaudible 18:42] greenhouse gas emissions than in downtown Toronto. Chris’s been very effective in getting some of the best data in the world on greenhouse gas emissions. Very inequitable across cities but very inequitable between cities. So one of the things that you can guarantee will happen, because if you look on the far right, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Bangladesh…these countries are going to get angrier and angrier and angrier as they have more and more storm events, and whether or not these storm events are really attributed to climate change doesn’t really matter. They believe that it is, and they are going to look over on the left of the chart and say, ‘Well, who created all these greenhouse gas emissions?,’ and they are going to be angry at a lot of us. So what you’ve got is sort of the perfect storm of discontentment growing in the world, and you can see that popping up all over the place. We need a new urban agenda. I think everybody probably agrees to that.
This is what I would say ‘the three silver bullets’ of the urban agenda, and I don’t think it’s the urban century; I think it’s the next four decades. Your kids, grandkids, they will be the ones who can tell you in 40 years if we won or lost basically. It isn’t a century question anymore. We have to, as Geoff was saying…’Well, we’re spending all this money to build this new infrastructure, these new cities; we need to build in resilience’. And probably the biggest one is that the urban form, public policy, and then metrics really matter. Everybody knows Mayor Bloomberg, but it is really Edwards Deming’s thing, ‘In God we trust, everybody else bring data,’ and bring good data…I think that’s important too.
This is sort of what I call the Wayne Gretzky approach to cities, to skate where the puck is going. Today’s Toronto is about the 50th largest city in the world, GTA. By the end of the century, even with 4 million new people moving to Toronto, Toronto will barely be in the top 100. The entire world is shifting to the cities of the South. Look at Lagos…whether or not that is actually going to be 88 million, but that’s basically the pressures in play for urbanization and the demographic changes in the world. Today, I think it’s like four of the top hundred largest cities are in Africa. By the end of the century, it’s something like 35. So it isn’t Asia that would drive the urban century…it’s Africa.
Cities, big cities, small cities; I have broken into the big problems, little problems. Big problem, as Jeff was saying, really is the infrastructure, electricity. Data systems are becoming more and more important. You’re also getting a lot of discontentment in the data system in the Internet. There’re a lot of countries outside of the US that are becoming very nervous with the US reading every piece of data that’s travelling, and so now you have this whole geopolitical challenge of who owns the data, who reads the data. About water supply…huge issue. Food supply; transportation…big issues.
These are what we like to think of as little issues, but I think the little issues often become manifestations of the big issues. So the bottom one we all… the shooting on the TTC, the streetcar. The world is fundamentally changed, where if you’re a police officer you have to believe that somebody’s not only watching but somebody’s filming. If you’re a politician…in India, now politicians realize that there is a very good chance of their being filmed when they have a meeting in a restaurant or whatever. Very different. So you got all this community unrest that’s bubbling and brewing in and a lot of it is the manifestation of the big problems.
The last thing that I want to mention from the sort of the risk perspective. Risk management and risk identification really is about trying to…probably many of you’ve read the book ‘The Black Swan’…it really is about looking at the tails. So I came up with this slide of lots of fat-tails. It’s a tail whether it’s terrorism, weather it’s geophysical problems, whether it’s the weather, whether it’s economic. The work that the World Economic Forum has done, trying to laying out all of the risks…if you plot those risks of where they’re likely to occur, almost all of those tails align themselves in cities. Cities by their nature are fragile, and we have to figure out how to make them much less vulnerable and much less fragile. There are many things that can be done, but more than anything else, it’s an attitude that people who build and manage the cities have to think of it as trying to sort of untangle the tails and address the risk as it comes, whether it’s building more resilience or the management or good quality data…it’s the biggest challenge I think of this century.
That’s it. Thank you.
Thanks, Dan. Dan was talking about having film and cameras shoved on you. We were sitting at the break this morning and one of the Senate Eggleton was with us, and there was a microphone and a camera and we couldn’t talk about anything important. We had to talk about small stuffÖ
Anyway. I am going to talk about sustainability and resilience because those two terms are emerging together in a lot of conversations. They are not exactly the same thing, but they have overlapped with each other. Loosely, sustainability is the ability to last a long time; resilience is the ability to recover, or manage shock. They both are very much at the forefront of thinking about city.
I am going to overlap a little bit with Dan and a little bit with Jennifer and try cover middle ground. In terms of sustainability I think this is the first slide for me to start on it. It’s actually about four years old now but the [inaudible 24:45] work from the Swedish Resilience Institute…it isn’t only about the global resources but it’s about the planetary boundaries, the challenges the planet face, and really when it gets to the bottom-line sustainability, these are the problems that we’re facing. Now there are nine planetary boundaries. I am not going to go into all of them but [inaudible] colleagues highlighted three in particular weather it is considered we were over the boundary. One of them was climate change, which is well spoken about on. We’ll come back to climate change. Active nitrogen, problems in the nitrogen cycle, excessive amounts of active nitrogen being produced, about four times of what we think is long-term manageable, but there is huge amounts of uncertainty about that. And biodiversity loss in the planet…that’s just off the chart, order of magnitudes, or possibly greater.
So that’s sustainability at the global level. What have the cities got to do with it? Well, I think it will take you a while to take this chart in because there are two y-axes, but it’s all about cities. All of those global environmental stresses are almost 100% to do with cities. What you are looking at here…this is a very similar diagram to what Dan showed earlier, only it doesn’t project beyond 2010. It shows the blue diamonds, urban population growth, catching up with those green triangles, the rural population growth, and what I’ve done is I’ve superimposed on top of it global energy use in that red line, and what you see is that the global energy use maps like a glove right on top of urban population. I have even done statistical analysis of this. You got about 1.8 billion rural residents been added to the planet, and when you do a statistical analysis, they are statistically insignificant in terms of their impact on global energy use. It’s all about cities. You would get the same story if you had good data about biodiversity loss and active nitrogen. I’m sure you’d trace it back to the cities. Even though people in the rural areas do use energy and are producing things for people in cities, cities are really the driver of all of the global sustainability challenges.
This graph actually spooks me out, because of all of our efforts to act upon climate change and cities been these great centers where we can make a differenceÖ What Dan showed you was the projected population growth in cities. That would suggest we got a whole lot more energy use on this planet in the next coming decades and centuries. Maybe we can change the nature of energy use, but it’s a big challenge.
Okay now, let’s switch a bit of scales and switch to resilience. This is almost like an experimental slide. We have been playing around, thinking about this notion of how you quantify resilience…it’s difficult. This is only one way of looking at it and I don’t pretend that it’s an absolute measure, but I’ve done a lot of work over the last 10, 15 years studying what we call the ‘urban metabolism’ – that’s the flow of energy into cities and flow of material through cities. And we realized to know that we’ve never really quantified the energy stored in the cities. Energy comes in and it basically quickly goes out as heat, but there’s quite a lot of energy stored in cities, and actual fact is energy stored in cities is something that we really rely upon when the lights go out and we really need to respond from a shock. For example, we estimate there’s about six days of gasoline in tanks, in vehicles, in trawlers – this is the study of the city of Toronto just published this year. There’s a bit more in diesel. Some of it is in the gas station; most of it is actually in the tanks. There’s up to 20 days of food. Now whether the food would last 20 days before it goes rot is another issue, especially if you lost your electricity and if you don’t have your fridge any more. And if you want to get really negative and really pessimistic; we think we had a really substantial shock to Toronto in the middle of winter we can go about 64 days, if we burn down all the trees in the city (I’m not proposing that, Jennifer, okay?). That’s the measure of how much heating fuel we actually have.
This is one measure of resilience…I don’t think it’s the perfect one yet, but I thought you might be interested in thinking about it as a measure of resilience. You can also get into the question of whether all the food and the gasoline are where the people need to be ñresilience is more sophisticated than that…it is all in one place; it would not be very useful. But of course the nature of economics is that the food, grocery store, is near where people live, and gasoline would be in tanks in people’s garages or the driveway. So there is really no problems with the spatial data, all this as far as we’ve looked at it.
But what I really want to get to now is come backÖ I’m still talking about resilience and sustainability, but now more in a climate change context, and I am talking about adaptation, which is the ability to increase resilience, and mitigation, which is a way to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and therefore is part of the sustainability Jigsaw. And this work, I have been working with Dan and Dan was involved in this work too over the last few years. We have been looking at some technological infrastructural or policy strategies going forward with the cities, and we believe that there’s actually quite a large sweet spot on this 2×2 graph, where you can take actions that both make cities more sustainable and more resilient. A good example is building insulation. We know that high quantities of building insulation means that building use less energy, which is good for climate change. Buildings with high levels of inflation, when they lose power, also maintain their internal temperature for longer and therefore that actually makes them more resilient too. So that is the example of both happening at the same time. There’re other things such as the air conditioning by conventional fossil fuels…it’s great for resilience but terrible for mitigation. Some things like hydropower, if it is competing with scarce water resources, is good for mitigation but not so good for resilience if you don’t have the water supply you need in in terms of water problem, for example.
We have taken these ideas a little bit further in the developing world context. We did a study with [inaudible 30:51] who actually worked with both Dan and myself over the last few years. She’s at the World Bank now. We were looking at a man in Jakarta and Darussalam; we were getting into these, specially the Darussalam cases, rapidly growing African cities. We quantified the greenhouse gas emissions in the first two cases; electricity and transport are the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The adaptation challenges are more difficult than even the [inaudible 31:20] faces, or may be the [inaudible] faces similar adaptation challenges to Jakarta, but multiplied times and times over in Jakarta’s case. Sealevel rise, floods, landslides there. The main is about water scarcity and extreme heat, but you can develop mitigation strategies that deal with both the adaptation challenge and the need to reduce emissions and at least grow without increasing the omissions in these contexts. Even in the case of Darussalam, where there is very low emission just now, they got issues with waste, and waste is a possible way of generating energy…that actually gives you a win-win when on the adaptation, mitigation, and development and projection.
I am going to go with one last slide which is actually going to take us back up to the global scale rather than point down to the city scale, where I would guess Jennifer will be mainly speaking about. This is a part of this session meant to give some takeaways about future models and the way things will go in the future. This is just addressing low carbon growth alone, and some work that I did when working with the OECD in 2012, and there’re some economics behind it or at least some estimates of future costs for infrastructure, development based on IEA and OECD studies. And in this process of trying to work out how much money was going to be spent…this is for global, we are looking at national data…over the next…we actually looked to the next 30 years, but I am only showing a stylized version here. We identified what we call the ñit’s not normal OECD terminology…a virtuous cycle of low carbon growth, how it could occur through infrastructure. And this should make sense, I hope, to everyone here – policies to promote energy efficiency and low carbon vehicles, if played out in a really…imagine a scenario of a really low carbon world…that would actually mean we would have a decreased demand for oil and natural gas and their infrastructure. Now I know natural gas might come up as an interim sort of fuel, but with that decrease in oil and gas, natural oil and natural gas infrastructure, it frees up capital that can be used for green electricity. And that green electricity actually enables those electric vehicles, if it is electric vehicles of low carbon…they will actually be low carbon because you actually now have a fossil fuel electricity supply. So that’s actually a sweet sort of cycle in the middle of these three broad strategies. What is the most surprising about our study and this gets a little messy, and I apologize, is it that when you then start thinking about other infrastructure sectors, you actually see big potential cost savings, because when you no longer need coal to burn for electricity generation, you no longer need natural gas and oil, you’ve actually reduced your mass or weight, tonnage of global trade, by ships at least, by 45%, because 45% of the weight of the stuff carried around the planet is actually fossil fuels. You’ve reduced your tonnage of freight on US railways by 45% too, because 45% of what you carry in US railway is coal.
This has big repercussions for what you do with your port and rail capacity and actually gives you a lot of opportunity, and ideally that new capacity can be used to grow an expanding global trade in components of green buildings, vehicles and energy supply systems. That would give some extra kicks to this potential spinning cycle. Some of this is tentative; it’s a very broad brush…there’s devil in every detail, behind every hour [35:04] and every box. But there is some economic data behind it that gives it a little bit of something to look at. I’ll leave with that one and stop there.
Roughly, there’s tons of nitrogen on the planet, but most of it is in inert form. The challenge is, as we produce the NOX, the nitrogen pollutants, we are putting a lot of the active nitrogen out into the forest, into water systems…the classical nitrogen pollution problems, the eutrophication problem. The resilient scientists believe that if you do that over a long time, you’re actually building, over decades…you reduce the resilience of your ecosystems to behave as they normally do. That’s the issue, but the quantification of what the threshold should be…there’s much less science on that than there has been for example on the CO2 and climate change problem.
Hi everyone, I’m Jennifer and I’m going to take us back…we have been all over the world…back to the city of Toronto, and trust me, you can find all those problems from all over the world right here at home. They’re all here, there are very similar, the same. I’ll pick up some of the themes that we heard both Dan and Chris talking about. One of the key ideas that I want to weave through these comments is the notion that there are really important systems that sustain us, and we have some examples of those systems, and we need to begin connecting the pieces back together again and recognizing the way that those systems sustain us at a very basic level. This is about recognizing complexity, embracing complexity and knowing that complexity is going to be a part of the solution moving forward. But before I do that, I would like to invite you to pause for a minute and think about a favorite place that you have in nature…may be a place from when you were a child or a place now that you go to retreat, or you may not have one…but hold that thought about that favorite place in nature and I am going to come back to that a little bit later in this presentation.
What I am going to talk about is planning for growth. I think it’s firmly established by all three of the presentations that in fact growth is inevitable and growth doesn’t necessarily need to be a bad thing. We should grow our cities, but very clearly we need to make our footprint smaller. I was at a presentation in New York City a few weeks ago and one of the planners there was talking about some data that Michael Bloomberg had collected, and in fact New York City now brags as having the lowest per capita carbon footprint of anywhere in America. Think about that for a minute. It points to this idea that cities are in fact part of the solution. However, if we are going to get those footprints smaller in our cities, we need to think about the systems that sustain us in our urban environment and getting those systems right. Of course, inevitably that means planning for growth in a fundamentally different way than we have planned for growth so far.
Just that you can firmly believe that I have a tiny bit of credibility in speaking about growth in an urban context, in the past five years we have had either active or completed development projects…1,643. You could take all the development happening in the entire country and put it together and, guess what; it doesn’t come near that number. With respect to residential units, in the past five years we received applications from 148,200 residential units, and not to forget we’re also growing our non-residential spaces as well with over 4,000,000 ft.≤ of non-residential proposed in the city. We are going through a period of growth that is going to fundamentally transform the city, and you can walk through the city today and see that transformation taking place, in part because we have 173 clean cranes; we have 180 high rise development projects taking place, and approximately 24,000 people move into the city and make the city their home each year. We’ve tremendous number of units that are already approved; for example, we have 42,000 units that are approved, but not even yet under construction. That’s in addition to those development projects in those units that you’re seeing on the screen.
So the growth we are seeing here is almost incomprehensible, and if you don’t pass through a certain part of the city for a few months and then you come back, you often have the pleasurable experience of seeing that it’s fundamentally transformed. What this means is, given that the changes are happening so quickly, that we need to adapt our planning processes very quickly. The mistakes that we make right now are having enormous implications, but the transitions we make, the changes we make, have profound implications as well. For example, we passed, not that long ago, a greenroof bylaw given the scale of development that we had taking place in the city. Four years from now we will have the most greenroofs of any city in the world, far surpassing Chicago, for example, which is a city that we modeled our greenroof policy on. So you can just imagine if we’ve been delayed by five years. It’s now having a significant impact because it’s coming at a moment when change is fast and furious.
Eighty two percent of our growth is happening in our targeted growth areas. Now this is very important because this is a reflection of how our policy frameworks and in particular our official plan are shaping growth so that our growth is taking place in a fundamentally different way. So what does that look like? This is a copy of our official plan, Urban Structure Map. I guess it’s a bit fuzzy up there. The important thing that you need to know in looking at this map is those mustard colored lines…they are areas that are designated as avenues and there’s 162 km of avenues, and avenues matter! Avenues matter a tremendous amount to our future, because these are the areas where we can accommodate midrise development in a form that will complete out our communities that are currently incomplete. So thinking about the systems that sustain us…I’ll talk a little bit later about transportation for example…if we want to create walkable communities where we have access to local food sources and a strong sense of community, it’s imperative that we have the densities that make that viable. Now given that a tremendous amount of the city is already built, how do we go through that transition in such a way that we protect and enhance the communities that already exist as well as at the same time fundamentally changing them, building them out in a different way? Well, the avenues are a key part of the strategy.
You see here two examples of what those avenues look like as they transform with that midrise development, and our transportation systems are another layer and also need to change. But of course this growth means we have all kinds of capacity that we need to add in a variety of other areas. For example when it comes to energy…now this map here shows you some of the energy flows, and what’s important to note here is that electrical capacity and reliability is a concern in the city of Toronto, and you know the biggest impact with respect to the flooding week we experienced this summer, actually it had to do with energy because of our transformers getting flooded. So there’s a direct correlation between these various systems that we can overlay.
You can see here on this map which shows you…this is from Toronto Highbrow…this shows you a number of key issues including aging infrastructure and deteriorating infrastructure as well as a lack of operating flexibility. But what you see here is that the red areas are the areas where we are expecting that we in fact have a capacity issue within four years. So think about long-term planning. We’ve got a problem in every red area within four years. In the areas that you see there in yellow, is our next wave of areas that are of concern. And then the areas that you see in green are the areas where we see no load update required within a 10 year framework. The very important piece to note here is that we have a significant issue…we need to begin thinking very differently about how it is that we plan for energy. The old way of transition and generation is based on megaprojects and moving energy across vast distances. When we think about complexity, we have to think about systems that of course result in energy traveling less farther but also result in energy being generated much, much closer to the source. Inevitably this points us towards embedded energy, such as district energy, renewable energy, geothermal and solar combined, heat and power. Now we have a tremendous amount of work to do in this area, but we do of course have our Deep Lake Water Cooling project, which is a fascinating example and very progressive example of drawing, of course, on the cold water of Lake Ontario to cool the downtown core. So we actually know how to do this, we just need to be doing it in a much more substantive way, and I’ll argue the same thing with our water infrastructure.
Now this is an image from 1954. This is our great awakening with respect to our need to plan differently…hurricane Hazel…and this was the moment when the Toronto regional conservation authority came into full swing and began to teach planners across the region about the importance of storm water mitigation, of setbacks, of ensuring that we had a healthy ravine system. But of course as we all know, it wasn’t quite enough. This is an image from the storm just this summer, and the good thing about the storm this summer is I think it has shone the light in a really substantive way that we do need to think about water and water absorption in the urban environment in a new way. Now our greenroof policies and our green building standards go quite far toward getting us into a different kind of position as a city and beginning to mitigate some of the water overflow that we see, but the reality is that the expected changes and the extremity of the changes…how extreme it is, what we’re seeing, means that we need to move much more aggressively and we need to think in a much more bolder way about how in fact we are going to address these issues.
We have a series of small pilot projects; for example on the Danforth we have a TPA parking lot. When you’re walking by that parking lot, it just looks like a beautiful green landscape area that looks like a flower bed, but in fact beneath that flowerbed is almost three feet of an irrigation system. It’s actually storm water retention area right in the core of the urban fabric. Really these interventions that we have taking place right now are very targeted. There’re still being treated as pilot projects as opposed to a fundamental part of the infrastructure that we ought to plan if we are going to make the urban environment sustainable moving forward, so it’s not quite enough.
That might not be actually correct. We see the overall daily maximum mean increasing significantly. Yeah, ninety and nine might not be correct. I apologize for that.
So the other piece which Jeff referenced of course here is the extreme heat piece, which is a very important part and is of course very clear today. Transportation infrastructure is a really important part of thinking about these various systems and of course this is an area where we’re struggling in the city. We have some of the worst congestion in North America, and one of the catch-22 we face is that we tend to like big massive infrastructure projects. We still like to think in terms of very large investments and interventions, but in reality there is a whole variety of things that we can do that are related to how we plan our land differently and developing out those avenues that is rooted in ensuring that we have transition into thinking about cycling and walking as being a fundamental part of our transportation system. And this is really a new way of thinking and it’s a very difficult transition to make, but we are lagging, we’re not leaders in this area. This transition has already been made in many cities around the world. I think we’re beginning to see a grassroots movement of people choosing to move differently in the absence of the infrastructure to support it.
Now one of the questions today was about the role of big data and I think big data has a fundamental place in helping us understand the urban environment in a different way, and this is about shifting that narrative about the city, what the city is, and what the city is becoming. And often we sort of tell the wrong story, and it leads us to the wrong conclusions. The risk is data without information or analysis. I want you to just go back and think for a minute of that favorite place, that place in nature because I’d like to suggest that big data in the absence of being connected in a personal way to the systems that sustain you is in fact meaningless. And this is a very important idea and it’s about the notion that how we live and experience every day, is actually more real than numbers and data, and data and numbers is meaningless in the absence of understanding those systems. For example, there is a wonderful book called ‘Last Child in the Woods,’ which some of you may be familiar with. The author talks about this notion that children today have no sense of where their food comes from, have no sense of where their water comes from or where their water goes when it runs down the drain. I believe that if we focus too much on something like big data, we forget about unveiling and revealing the systems within our urban environment that actually help us understand how we’re connected to the places that sustain us.
Now the last point that I just wanted to reference here, because it’s a big part of the equity piece that Jeff mentioned at the outset, which is this notion of the three cities, and this is a phenomenon that exists in most big cities in the world. It’s not unique to Toronto but it has been documented in the city of Toronto by [51:40] David Hulchanski from the University of Toronto. You can see here the areas that are identified as the number one or the wealthy areas of the city, where the wealthiest individuals live with the highest average individual incomes. The areas that are white are in the middle, and the areas that are in the burgundy color there are in fact the poorest areas of the city. And the important part to know is the trend, and the trend is that the burgundy areas are growing, the white is shrinking and in fact the center part is growing as well. Any kind of resilience is an unfathomable idea in the absence of addressing social inequity because social inequity, to reference some of the comments that Dan talked about with respect to other cities in the world or emerging economies in the world, we know that the inequity and figuring out how we can better distribute how we use the resources we have is a fundamental part of building a resilient city.
In closing I would just mention that the tool that we have in the planning department is our Toronto Green Standard, which has standards that we used in the development review process with the development industry. And if you’d like to take a look at that tool and some of the objectives and the instruments involved in it, you can Google it; it’s available online.
And just the last comment that I want to make in closing is about this notion of systems and connections. I actually believe that we’re doing little tiny pieces of what we already need to do; we just need to speed up our game such that the change we see is in keeping with the magnitude of the growth that we see in our urban environments.
Thank you Jennifer. that idea that the future is already here but just not evenly distributed, it goes for both the good and the bad. We don’t have as much time as I would’ve liked, but I’d love to draw a few comments and questions from around the table. There’s easily as much, if not more, expertise elsewhere on the table than there is in this corner over here, so please put some thoughts into play for us if you want them [inaudible 54:03]. And just yell them out if you have some quick points about what you like or don’t like or anything else. Comments? Yes.
How to have a financial or funding tools for public space…as curious where you may be heading with that and if there may be through…whether it’s preparing for emergencies or new resilience strategies, whether you’re finding the ability to layer the need for just public gathering space while you are having so much development, with backup water cisterns that are buried underneath, maybe solar been utilized in some of these public spaces, some sort of layering so that you get other sources of money as well as the feasibility proposal for that.
Sorry, where you are from?
I’m on the board of Congress for the new urbanism. I am an architect and developer from New York. I am also panel co-leader for ACEEE, so there’s a lot of connection on energy efficiency in the new urban environment.
My name is Daneesh Ram [spelling]. I am part of the Future of Cities at the University of Oxford. What I am curious to know is, is there a plan for resilience when it comes to food? Because as temperature rises and extreme changes happening, where we get supplied? Price of gas will go up, may be solar changes the way we transport things but food securities can be a big issue. Greenroof is a good idea, urban farming can develop from that, but is there another one?
I am [inaudible 56:07] with Cisco. One of the things I observed supporting a lot of power urbanization projects around the world is the carbon intensity of the construction and you kind of spoke through in terms of the [inadubile] resources of the new cities. I am wondering from the panel, what you are seeing in terms of effort to build real suitability in the actual construction projects and make the projects [inaudible] require to do all of the other things that you are talking about.
My name is Greg Greene. I did a film on peak oil called the ‘End of Suburbia,’ so my question is really about peak oil. Do you in your projections, are you still looking at peak oil as a possibility within the next 40 year threshold? Is that feeding into, looking at the greenroofs, food security, or do you think it’s really off the agenda? And that connects I think with a bunch of other questions that have come up.
I am going to reverse engineer this one. We are going to go backwards with the questions, beginning with the last one. Chris, if you can…just a quick comment on peak oil, and then we’ll go to Dan to deal with carbon intensity, and then Jennifer the last oneÖ
I guess my sense is peak oil has gone off the agenda a little bit, but I don’t think it will be off the agenda for long. We do as a species come up with innovative ways of overcoming our peaks. As soon as the price of gasoline starts going really high again, it will come back right up there. Just a tiny thing to add to that is Dan and I have been working…mainly Dan has been working on the notion of peak waste, whether that might occur sometime this century, but I’ll leave it to that if he wants to add to that.
Sure. Everybody knows bad about the resources, [inaudible 58:10] lost. I don’t think scarcity is going to be what challenges us the most; I think what’s going to challenge us the most is basically the assimilative capacity of the planet. Then as we start getting closer and closer to cities that are facing sea level rise, it’s this inherent system breakdown to a large extent. When you get big cities facing shock after shock after shockÖwell, all you really need to have for chaos is a New York City to get hit by Katrina or super storm Sandy for four or five times over the span of 10 years, and you just can’t recover. So in terms of the question of the energy intensity of the construction, I think there’s lots that can be done simply by having a price on carbon. People will get a lot smarter in terms of how they build. I think there’ll be a big push very quickly to have a link between the construction of buildings and the management of buildings. It’s still very much, a company will build the building and then it’s a turnkey operation and then somebody’s left managing it, but if you purchase a 30 year basically lease of the building, then it’s in their interest to make it far more energy efficient. in terms of the emissions from construction, China is kind of off the charts in terms of both peak waste and peak energy use and most of that is from constructing the current cities. so hopefully the answer is we will get a lot better but I have a feeling we might not get there in time. We will face significant challenges as we try to get there.
Well, just on that point. There is a notion of carbon pricing, and most of us believe…and Dan made a comment…it is coming, we will see carbon pricing by 2015…and likely ruled out an integrated cross governments over the course of the several years after that, but it is coming. I think we can all count on that reality. Would anybody disagree with that? Or will anybody reinforce that?
Well I will reinforce that with notion about the pricing more generally is that pricing is probably our most powerful tool because we have so many things right now that are completely mispriced and as a result we ended up with all kinds of unintended consequences. So if we can link pricing to the outcomes that would like to see, you will see the whole urban environment shift on a dime. We see this in urban places that are sprawling. And when the development charges are adjusted to fully account for the cost of the infrastructure in Greenfield development, all of the sudden economics of developing those Greenfields just bottoms out and you see more urban infill taking place. But most places actually have the pricing wrong and that’s why we’re seeing lots of greenfield development that we don’t want to see, because the prices aren’t right. So I think more broadly, we are going to be moving into a world where pricing becomes a really…and getting the pricing accurate and linked to policy objectives is going to be a key piece.
With respect to the urban agriculture, this has been a really difficult issue in city Toronto, but in October we in fact have a report coming forward back to City Council. It’s on urban agriculture plan. There is a recognition that it’s a very important topic. there’s quite a bit of work that’s been done in this area. in our official plan we’ve enabled a whole series of policies around urban agriculture, but there’s still a real fear of urban agriculture as well that it somehow degrades the urban environment. I’m actually not pessimistic about it because I believe that you reach a tipping point where it just becomes obvious that land should be used for food and then we start to become innovative in using our roofs and other places for food. I do believe that there is a tipping point where we will begin to see the change, but there isn’t…there’s some leadership at City Hall, but it’s been an issue that has been bouncing around for quite some time.
With respect to the question about the public realm, and if I got it right, how we pay for those policy improvements in the public realmÖ
So we do have some tools at the provincial level that allow us to extract some monies from any development for public benefits, so we use those tools that we have. but one of the tools we have that we haven’t used in city of Toronto yet is the development permit system, and the development permit system allows us to create a bylaw for a given area and to create requirements for development within that area in order to support those public realm improvements within that entire area. so it’s about linking together the value capture of new developments with an area. Development permit systems…and I am going to be reporting out to Planning Growth Management Committee on that issue in November and will have a subsequent report in the new year to City Council, and we’re essentially recommending a framework that will allow us to secure those benefits on an area wide basis as opposed to the site by site basis. So we have some tools that we use today, but we definitely need much better tools. It comes back to pricing. I don’t think we’re capturing the right amount of value that we ought to for the public realm.
That’s it…exactly, district wise approach or what we would call secondary plan area.
I hate to do this but we have got the next session starting in a few minutes. I know there are so many more good questions around the table, but we’ll have to let those play out in your conversations in the main room and in the next sessions. But come on up if you want to try to grab some moments right now. Thank you very much for your attention and your participation.