Thursday, January 29, 2009

Crashed Ice!

I ended up heading to Quebec City last weekend with Red Bull for their Crashed Ice event. If you haven't heard of it, it's an insane frozen track down a huge hill that people race down on skates. It was sooo cold, but we made up for the weekend with lots of booze. I think if I ever see another Jaggerbomb I'll be sick. We left on the Atlantic express bus from Dal at 6am, people started drinking while it was still dark out. They were the ones passed out by Fredericton. The bus was fun, and there was definitely some insane stories from the weekend.

Best things from Crashed Ice:
-sleeping on the bus in the dark while everyone else drank
-free beers and lunch at the UNB Social club
-Jersey's off at the french Swiss Chalet
-low raffle number for the on-board bus bathroom
-cheap/free beer
-redbull/Jagger action belt, haha
-50km/hr down a frozen a 550m ice track
-its so cold out, pee freezes all over the go-johns
-layers in the extreme cold
-front and centre for MSTRKRFT
-huge dancefloor at the Dag
-packing drunk at 6am with no memory

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thesis mentioned in local indy weekly

The Coast, the local indy paper, is only once a week but is pretty popular in Halifax. This column was writting about a Master's student in Jeremy's lab, my former thesis supervisory, that is continueing some of the research I helped Melissa on the summer I worked for him. My project/thesis is mentioned briefly about half way down the article (about the 50+ green roofs found a few years ago). Haha, no name mentioned or anything, but still pretty cool!

Liven up your house: Building green roofs could create the "Hanging Gardens of Halifax"

by Chris Benjamin

There are secrets to greening Halifax in the coastal barrens of Peggys Cove.

Scott MacIvor is conducting groundbreaking research there as part of his master's degree in applied science at Saint Mary's University: "I'm studying the plants."

MacIvor notes that coastal barrens plants live in similar conditions to those you might find on a Halifax rooftop. "There are high winds, they are exposed to sun and drought and they are regionally specific, accustomed to our climate," MacIvor says. He and his supervisor sought local plants that survive in harsh conditions in the hope of revolutionizing Halifax rooftops.

A green, or living, roof is a plant-based extension up from an existing roof. It requires extensive waterproofing and protection from root growth, a drainage system and relatively lightweight plants.

"I'm passionate about green roofs because I've always lived in urban environments," MacIvor says. "We have a lot of impervious surfaces, roads and buildings, which don't allow water through."

Concrete and asphalt create storm-water runoff, one of the reasons Halifax Harbour is polluted. These hard surfaces also trap the heat of the sun, creating the "urban heat island effect," whereby cities tend to be a few degrees hotter than surrounding greener pastures.

MacIvor lists the many benefits green roofs provide: "They counter the urban heat island effect and mitigate carbon dioxide and other air pollutants; increase biodiversity; provide refuge for valuable urban wildlife including carnivorous insects for pest control; allow for storm-water retention; provide cooling, insulation and energy savings and they protect the roof membrane so the roof lasts longer." Green roofs also increase sound insulation and fire resistance, improve general health and reduce stress.

The environmental and health benefits of green roofs have been documented as far back as the hanging gardens of ancient Syria and in Western European nations such as Germany and France they blossomed into a multimillion-dollar industry in the early '90s. We've been slower on the uptake in North America, where the benefits are poorly understood. According to MacIvor, we have the potential.

"I see increasing growth across North America," he says. A few years ago, a survey of green roofs in Halifax turned up more than 50 examples, atop institutional buildings and personal residences. MacIvor notes a few recent highlights, including a green roof at Citadel High and a second, bigger green roof being installed at SMU. He says that with an increasing understanding of locally appropriate plant technology, the number of green roofs in town could explode.

"Green roofs in North American conditions are not well researched," says MacIvor. "And you have to do it city by city; you can't copy what we know from Toronto in Halifax." The climates are too different. Most of the world's research on green-roof technology comes from Germany, which means that we may not be using the best available plants for our climate.

MacIvor's research, conducted out of SMU's Green Roof Testing Facility, aims to enhance our green-roof plant selection and bolster efforts to green Halifax's skyline. The data will be used to create "habitat templates," plans for real living rooftops.

If these hardy flora prove effective, Halifax may be the perfect milieu for a green- roof renaissance because of our low density and relatively flat cityscape. According to a recent paper from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, "Green roofs will have the greatest effect on energy consumption for buildings with relatively high roof-to-wall-area ratios." In other words, low-rises.

Green roofs offer the greatest energy savings for homeowners, who may eventually benefit from another advantage of coastal barrens plants: "They can grow in only two inches of soil," says MacIvor. This saves money and reduces weight, a factor in making green roofs workable on smaller

Aside from the lack of local research, cost is the biggest reason green roofs have yet to flourish on your street. Costs vary widely depending on a roof's size, type and angle, but generally fall between $10 and $20 per square foot. It's a serious investment for something that could cause its progressive new owner a winter of suffering over die back---when the plants go dormant.

For that reason, many "green" builders prefer to stick with tried-and-true solar panels, but MacIvor resists the garden-versus-solar-panel debate. "Solar panels can be used in combination with green roofs," he says. "But green roofs offer benefits to the environment beyond thermal benefits, like absorbing storm water." Green roofs also save money long-term due to energy savings and increased longevity of roof membranes.

Overseeing the economic and the scientific is the political. In European states with large green-roof industries, inevitably you find legislated green-roof requirements written into building codes. So far, Halifax has talked good sustainability talk, but regulated little other than building heights and planning processes.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The prophet T.I.

When most rappers are going to shit, this song has some cool lyrics about the crap state of the music industry. It could use some help with the grammar though. But I started listening to the song because it's sampling an old AIESEC dance song, haha

I'm the opposite of moderate, immaculately polished with the spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid.
Allergic to the counterfeit, impartial to the politics.
Articulate but still would grab a n***a by the collar quick.
Whoever havin problems, with they record sale just holla TIP.
If that don't work and all else fails, then turn around and follow TIP.
I got love for the game but ay I'm not in love with all of it.
I do without the fame and the rappers nowadays are comedy.
The hootin' and the hollerin', back and forth with the arguing.
Where you from, who you know, what you make and what kind of car you in.
Seems as though you lost sight of what's important with the positive.
And checks until your bank account, and you're about poverted.
Your values is a disarrayed, prioritizing horribly.
Unhappy with the riches cause you miss-poor morally.
Ignoring all prior advice and fore warning.
And we mighty full of ourselves all of a sudden aren't we?

Just live your life, ay ay ay