ARRA Misses the Ecological Mark

Hillary Brown argues that the infrastructure priorities of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act further the carbon-intensive status quo and miss an unprecedented opportunity to build innovative, green systems.
October 26, 2010, 12pm PDT | Lynn Vande Stouwe
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At $132 billion, ARRA provides only a fraction of $2.2 trillion needed to repair and upgrade America's infrastructure, notes Brown. Furthermore, she says, by emphasizing private transportation over public, underfunding clean energy projects and doing nothing to break down the 'siloed thinking' that plagues the public works sector, ARRA will simply perpetuate the inefficiencies of current systems.

Instead, the next generation of infrastructure should employ 'bold strategies': co-location and integration of diverse functions, models that work in concert with natural processes, projects that bring programmatic benefits to communities, and resilient design capable of adapting to global climate change.

However, the ultimate challenge to smart infrastructure may be political rather than technical, Brown writes:

"Designing appropriate, sustainable technologies may be the least challenging aspect of our American infrastructural dilemma. The more daunting problem is our dysfunctional governance - a political culture that seems unwilling to commit to implementing what we know we need, and know how to make."

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Published on Monday, October 25, 2010 in Design Observer
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