Posted by: energyblogwalter | December 26, 2009

Re: Hume:Condo’s future needs mature debate–hume-condo-s-future-needs-mature-debate

Hume: Condo’s future needs mature debate

(email to Mr Hume)

Let me try to shape how such a debate would work from my perspective,
brain dump though it may be.  It might be useful, maybe not.  I’ll try
not to ramble too much 😉

First off, what kind of debate?  Not online when thestar doesn’t have
comments turned on, or with character limits and moderators with hours
between allowed posts which kill any online conversation.

How about comparison?  Find another writer to compare with in dueling
columns, over a few months.  Cities in Europe without condos are
liveable, walkable, bikeable, and have numerous market squares.
Copenhagen in the news was really cool.  A piece comparing issues
between cities would be interesting.  Mention Google Streetview.  Both
of you can then take us on a tour of a real citizen-based city.
Condos are also around but seemingly not designed as out of place low
quality mono-packing crates with windows on them.  Pride in city with
an eye towards improvements would be nice comparison and bring out
interesting merits from a mutual expert resident perspective.  It
might shake out the flaws and give us what remains, as a workable

However this runs the risk of creating a debate when there is no
debate to create, like climate change.  Why justify a debate if the
answers are based on having useful knowledge?  Without commonalities
then, the debates only waste our time.  Therefore no debate is
necessary, only increasing knowledge as used elsewhere.  Only
increased perspectives.

Both houses and condos in our current design require 100% of energy
from external sources but not in Sweden or elsewhere.  As well, only
condos have zero allowances in their contract, such you cannot reduce
your monthly condo fee if you put solar on a window or if you happen
to receive winter light and don’t need heating.  Death by fine print.
Houses however have a lot of options for reducing energy as well as
gardening potential, if land is available.  Some do not.  But many
streets are full of potential.

We cannot be green and solve climate change at 50, 25 or 10 stories.
Try 1-3 maybe 5 stories.  Try gardening.  What is the carrying
capacity for a building house or condo, with zero configuration to the
sun shining on this planet, zero geothermal, and zero solar panels?
Pretty low I’d imagine.  Include all these however and it will
probably go way up.  By how much?  What type of engineering is needed
to improve on that?  If its cheap relatively then there is no reason
to ignore it.  But ignoring the rational only serves to prevent
knowledge of it.

I’m reminded of a view from an apartment balcony in the Annex
somewhere.  Below me was a house at a 45 degree angle different than
from every other building on the block, including the apartment
building, streets, backyards, everything.  The shadow of the building
fell across the house and it lost all sunlight.  Trapped in time and
space.  This I found strange but then it dawned on me, that this house
was older than all of these buildings and infrastructure and had been
built back in the day with the planet in mind.  Winter sunlight.  If a
solution to building doesn’t even include the planet in which we live,
or with respect to the surrounding buildings that share our
neighbourhood to not block sunlight, this is then a definition of
total failure.  What retrofitting is needed?  What about other cities?
What is the plan of Tyson’s Corners and what will be the outcome?
What is their orientation compared to their geographical properties?
How does the respect of their neighbours improve their buildings of
similar design here?  These are more worthy comparisons.

As a design, having fewer stories to begin with means more overall
energy via geothermal and solar split between fewer people.  Paris has
5-7 stories and more than enough space because it’s spread out.  We
insist on packing it all together for a lesser result, which needs
more inputs.  Too many people in a lot means too much compensation,
delivery and transport.  However, fewer stories, more surface area on
the roof to support fewer number of people works and reduces 100%
external dependencies.  It isn’t zero, but it is at least not wholly
dependent, full of options, and can be done by a few people not
requiring teams of specialists.  Spread around that former tall
building on the street instead (we have the land).  Local economies
and local scales of construction.  Pride in appearance and location.
No more faceless glass.

I don’t see how any condo lasts the next 10 years due to peak oil and
energy crisis.  They will have to be renovated on the fly, with local
materials, without or with limited diesel, upwards of 15 stories, by a
few skilled people.  Really very unlikely and will represent the
epitome of Boomer Uselessness.  You could put up a plaque with the
names of every author that loves them for fame now but easier future

Boomer’s have failed to “debate” anything that interferes with their
“non-negotiable” way of life.  The fact is, we live on a planet with
specific utility and we need to reconnect to what that is again, not
dreams of limitless energy.  Local examples need to get the light of
day again.  I can’t debate against dreams and fallacies of a
generation of people who live only to pass the buck to others, even
their kids.  A criminal legacy?  I’ll not pay for it.  You can have
your condo.  The only future debate I’ll have is which building to
demolish first for the needed recycling.

The only reason condos exist is because of cheap abundant energy.
Take that away and their construction, maintenance, community
connection, let alone the supermarket capacity transportation imports
required to feed all those people drops like a stone.  Total denial is
required, as well as full reliance on nuclear energy and not the
planet.  Return to markets, not supermarkets, return to streets not
windtunnels, return to living not running away.  It could be quite
modern, European, fun, clean and green not to mention less depressing.
Make that normal.

There are some lower story condos that can be renovated to reduce
their dependencies, but those are few and far between compared to the
outright waste of current construction, “rules” and our future outlook
that is not based on reality of any kind.  Those rules have to change.
What rules are different between cities we like versus ours?

The real problem is that everyone insists on living downtown when that
is clearly insane.  New downtowns have to be considered, with
infrastructure, including all their matching amendities of sports and
recreation.  ACC North?  Metro is full and construction infill etc
needs to be banned but not the other sections.  Other parts of
Toronto; Etobicoke, NY, Scar, would at least be the new focus of
development with a banned downtown.  Thus, a new understanding on
carrying capacity might shake people awake in order to get everyone on
the same level.

These areas can even build better, utilizing the good ideas, and not
get the full useless density of downtown but hit instead a happy
medium capable of public transportation, grids based on the planet not
a map, gardening, and winter sunlight all at once.  The downtown needs
to de-populate for any quality of life to return.  Stopping the
hundreds or thousands a day or whatever the statistic is from entering
the downtown might even bolster taxpayers from increases, from running
faster and faster to stand in place, from leaving the downtown.
Toronto is now more than just metro and no one seems to grasp this.
Council shouldn’t care on a downtwon ban because they would still get
their rents from business investing uptown.  Total win.

I realize you cannot receive a paycheque if you are telling similar
insights in print, and some articles do imply an understanding and
dread of what we will be facing in future.  But please don’t keep
pretending that this pretend way of life is grand or even one of
redeemable merit.  If you can break free of these printed delusions I
believe you would be wonderful in writing the deeper potential of our
new living arrangements far deeper than I can with far more
interesting local connections.  I would certainly welcome such insight
and rationality.  Much better and positive than the perpetuation of
reasons on why condos must truly fail and implode from the weight of
its own stupidity.

If you have read books by Jane Jacobs,
also “The Geography of Nowhere” and “The Long Emergency” from James
Howard Kunstler,
also “Transport Revolutions: Moving Freight without oil”,
also “Our Choice: A Plan to solve the Climate Crisis” from Al Gore,
how then does anyone not reach similarly shaped conclusions of
positive change, net postive carbon sinks, development, and happy

What debate would exist if people are turned on to knowledgeable
examples with knowledgeable reasons all linked together, compared to
continuing the mindset of the useless Boomer and his/her blind
stubborn ignorance?

Who wants to waste their time talking to that?

With Best Regards,

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