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City Apples, Bike Highways, Greenest Homes: Top 5 Stories This Week

Droughts are cracking foundations and cars are blocking crosswalks. Meanwhile, Martin Holladay debunks “greenest home on earth” claims.

Sam Martin's "SkyCycle" concept would elevate bike lanes to new heights in London.Photo Credit: SkyCycle screen capture

Here it comes…the greenest home in America

We all see “greenest building on earth!” headlines on a regular basis, but saying it doesn’t make it so.

Martin Holladay does a righteous takedown of such ridiculous claims over at Green Building Advisor, pointing out that nine recent “greenest home in the world!” houses average 4,168 square feet and have amenities like heated electric toilets. Give the claims a rest, pleads Holladay: “The contest was won long ago by a poor family in Brazil, Tanzania, or Laos.”

The drought next time

Feeling lucky because your house wasn’t burned in a wildfire or flooded this year? Not so fast: the drought could destroy it too. Very dry soil—clay soil in particular—can cause huge cracks in foundations that may eventually damage the rest of the house, reports Jim Salter for the Associated Press.

“Drought-related home damage is reported in 40 of the 48 contiguous states,” Salter writes, and “experts say it could exceed $1 billion.” So go ahead and add underground piers that protect homes against parched soil to your list of resilient design strategies.

Taking bike-lane solutions to the top

A landscape architect who stopped cycling London’s streets for safety reasons is proposing elevated bike lanes—and his idea has caught the mayor’s attention, according to Lloyd Alter at Treehugger.


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Alter points out that the sky tunnels would increase cycling efficiency, making the lanes the equivalent of an interstate highway system for bikes.

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“Like any highway system eventually does, it would increase the number of bikes on the local roads, not decrease them,” he writes.

One-car pickup

Wow, car-jacking isn’t what it used to be.

John Metcalfe at The Atlantic Cities shares a video of the Gracie Floripa Jiu Jitsu team hoisting a car out of the crosswalk. A funny stunt, but it’s really no laughing matter: “Brazil has entered the dangerous territory of nearly 20 [traffic] fatalities per 100,000 people, with motorcycle riders and pedestrians being especially at risk,” Metcalfe says.

Bored at the crosswalk because you left your team of martial artists on the kitchen counter? Play Pong!

An orchard grows in Chicago

Thanks to the efforts of urban farmer Dave Snyder, Chicago is about to start planting its first apple orchard, with a focus on heirloom apples, peaches, cherries, berries, and, of course, paw paws, reports Lori Rotenberk at Grist.

“Urban orchards,” Rotenberk writes, “are becoming a metropolitan staple,” with specimens cropping up in Boston, San Francisco, London, and many other cities. In addition to preserving heritage fruit varieties and producing food, the orchard will provide public green space to the surrounding neighborhood.

Published September 7, 2012

(2012, September 7). City Apples, Bike Highways, Greenest Homes: Top 5 Stories This Week. Retrieved from

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