Hudson Valley Green Building Lab

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Project Team

Authors: Xiaofei Sun, Rui Zhang, Yunpeng Wu, Yuhui Si

Institution: Columbia University

Instructors: Kaja Kühl (Coordinator), Lee Altman, Anna Dietzsch, Shachi Pandey, Thaddeus Pawlowski

Studio: The Climate Crisis: Designing A Just Transition For Small Cities; Graduate Urban Design, Spring 2021

Project Description

Buildings are the largest end-users of energy, producing nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions. The vast majority of these buildings in the US and especially in the American Northeast are more than 50 years old. To achieve zero carbon emissions and avoid climate catastrophe we must scale up the process of retrofitting existing buildings to reduce operational as well as embodied emissions -the emissions associated with building materials and processes. The Hudson Green Building Lab aims to develop a new economy for green construction techniques and materials in Hudson to start this movement of retrofitting millions of buildings cost-effectively, develop new skills and businesses and create well-paying jobs for residents in the Hudson Valley.


Studio Description

At the beginning of the most critical decade to sustain this planet for future generations – and at the convergence of multiple crises, the 11 student projects developed in the Spring of 2021 in the MSAUD Urban Design studio at Columbia University are intended to generate conversation, visualize possible futures, and inspire communities to seize this moment and envision a just transition away from fossil fuels, exploitation, and systems of racial inequities to a future that is regenerative and just. Sixty percent of Americans now live in cities of under 50,000 residents. While much design and planning energy is focused on our largest cities, considering the nation’s smaller cities and towns as the prototypes for deep change has the potential to be replicated with great impact. These small cities of the Hudson Valley, as well as neighborhoods like Manchester and Chateau in Pittsburgh, offer an opportunity for transformative thinking to be tested, refined, and implemented with agility and flexibility. Their reliance on regional systems and networks, in turn, suggests the possibility to replicate and iterate on these models to transform larger urbanized regions.