World's Largest Green Roof to Sit on Top of Dying California Mall
"It's not easy to be a shopping mall these days," Reed Moulds, managing director at Sand Hill, tells FastCo.Exist. "We've done some research and we haven't found a single shopping mall that's started construction since 2006. This is clearly a dying model. That's on display at Vallco."
Vallco is a shopping mall in Cupertino, California—a stone's throw from Apple headquarters in the middle of suburban Silicon Valley. And apparently, it has seen better days. "Half the stores are empty, the food court is abandoned and people leave Yelp reviews talking about their fear of zombie ambushes in the eerie corridors," says FastCo.Exist.
That's where Moulds comes in. He's the developer behind a $3 million project to turn the derelict building around. The mall and adjacent parking are set to be transformed into "a vibrant, sustainable, walkable and safe new neighborhood with a mix of retail, dining, entertainment, recreation, offices, housing, open space and public amenities," according to the company's website. And the entire space would be topped with a 30-acre green roof—the largest in the world.
The proposed project is called The Hills at Vallco and if approved by the city of Cupertino in 2016, the new site would be truly remarkable. The whole site is designed to be walk- and bike-friendly with refreshing dense, mixed-use planning and town squares for farmers markets. Moulds plans to personally fund a shuttle service in the area since the rest of the city is so car-dependent. The green roof would include an impressive 3.8-mile trail network "for jogging and walking, vineyards, orchards and organic gardens, an amphitheater, children’s play areas and a refuge for native species of plants and birds," say the developers.
As if the project could get any cooler, it's also aiming to be as ecologically sound as possible. The project is aiming for LEED Platinum certification, the highest LEED rating. Developers also plan to use recycled water for irrigation, heating and cooling, and recapture rainwater to reduce water consumption.
"The sustainable park will feature native, drought-tolerant and climate-responsive landscaping that thrives on little to no water," says Sand Hill. "The green roof, natural ventilation and smart technology will ensure energy efficiency—keeping buildings and surroundings cool in the summer and warm in the winter."
"I think there's going to be a lot of opportunities to be very creative about how we reinvent our malls that aren't used the way that they've been used in the past," Moulds told Fast Co.Exist. "This was an organic approach, driven by community engagement, that at the end of the day resulted in the largest green roof in the world."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
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