New York City Soon to Be Home to World’s First Underground Park
An abandoned trolley terminal in New York City will soon be home to the world's first underground park. The Lowline, a lush underground forest powered by advanced solar technology, is "one step closer to becoming a reality," The Verge reported.
The ambitious project sits one story below Delancey St. and directly adjacent to the existing JMZ subway track at the Essex St. subway stop. It will be the size of a football field when complete.
The work that went into the #LowlineLab... Stop by today and Sunday between 10-4 to take a closer look 👀 https://t.co/hkEszX6ylt— The Lowline (@The Lowline)1447522195.0
Spearheaded by co-founders James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, the Lowline will host trees and plants such as philodendrons, dwarf snake plants, spiderworts, nettles and Spanish moss.
The coolest part? The flora will thrive off of actual sunlight in this underground arboretum thanks to solar technology designed by Ramsey's firm, Raad Studio.
"The proposed solar technology of the Lowline involves the creation of a remote skylight, whereby sunlight passes through a glass shield above a parabolic collector, is reflected and gathered at one focal point, and directed underground," the creators explained on their website.
"Sunlight is transmitted onto a reflective surface on the distributor dish underground, transmitting that sunlight into the space. This technology would transmit the necessary wavelengths of light to support photosynthesis, enabling plants and trees to grow."
Ramsey and Barasch came up with the idea of a subterranean oasis in 2009 and made many headlines soon after. Ramsey, who is also an ex-NASA engineer, first conceptualized this design while building satellites for the space agency, The Verge reported.
The park was given a similar moniker to New York City's Highline, a linear park built on a disused railroad. The Lowline makes use of a site that has unused for the past six decades and brings much-needed green space New York City dwellers, especially during in the city's typically harsh winters.
"The site itself is located at the very heart of the Lower East Side, and today, it still remains one of the most crowded neighborhoods in the city," as Barasch, a former Google strategist, said in his TEDTalk last year. "New York City has two-thirds the green space per resident as other big cities and this neighborhood has one-tenth of the green space."
According to the project's timeline, the Lowline team is currently negotiating with the MTA and the city to build and operate the underground park. After negotiations are finalized, a capital campaign to support construction will be launched.
The Verge reported that the founders are also working out certain kinks such as making the city’s "request for expressions of interest" Feb. 1 deadline and figuring out details for concessions and hours of operation, as well as raising funds for the expensive project. The Lowline is reportedly expected to cost between $44 million and $77 million to build, and $2 million to $4 million annually to operate.
The project completed a successful $223,506 Kickstarter campaign in October to construct their Lowline Lab, which is currently a research space for lighting and horticulture experiments, and is now open to the public for visits and community events.
The underground park is planned to open by 2020.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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