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Friday , 30 January 2015

Category Archives: Urban Living

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Features on the downtown scene, events and urban living.

Social, economic upheaval imminent as driverless cars hit the roads: report

If anyone still thinks the driverless car is a mere fantasy, a toy for the rich that is years if not decades from reaching our streets, they should think again. The automated vehicle, or AV, already in advanced development and testing, will be on the roads by 2020, or even sooner. The Conference Board of Canada says that Canada is lagging in preparing for this social upheaval, and its new report on AVs is meant to be a “wake-up call” for policy makers. The first generation of AVs is well underway: Google, NASA, Nissan, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors as well as numerous governments around the world are working on driverless ... Read More »

Skyscrapers made of wood a new form of high-density building

Now that Ontario has opened the door to taller wood buildings, architects and engineers are no doubt thinking about how to start using wood creatively. They should look at the German architectural firm, Weingartner Architects, for inspiration. Leonhard Weingartner has spend a lot of time—twenty years, he says—working out how to solve some of today’s really big problems: climate change, social alienation, depletion of resources, rapid urbanization. Architecture has a major role to play in solving these, he believes, because it can help us develop a new, sustainable alternative to traditional construction methods, and ways of life. It’s a tall order, but Weingartner believes his solution is up to it. ... Read More »

Building codes don’t save energy: people save energy

Energy efficiency and energy conservation are not the same thing. The latest demonstration of that comes from California, which has one of the strictest “green” building codes in North America. A professor at Georgetown University studied energy use in California’s residential construction industry and concluded that despite the introduction of numerous building code requirements intended to reduce energy consumption by 80 per cent, consumption has actually gone up, not down. Arik Levinson, the economics professor who authored the study, found that the building code’s green requirements added an average of $8,000 to the construction cost of a new home, with little benefit to the public. Recently built homes use more ... Read More »

Car and truck drivers among biggest winners in oil collapse

Canada is the developed world’s energy pig. Canadians consume more energy per capita than any other people, including our polar-dwelling, cold weather-coping, great distances-shipping comrades, the Russians. The United States is the only other country that comes close to Canada in energy use. Therefore, given how important energy is to Canadians, one would expect to see winners and losers from the collapse of crude oil prices. CIBC has weighed in with a new analysis by Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist, and he does indeed  find that “there will be spoils to be shared in Canada.” It’s only by looking at trends in the country’s industries, as well as its households, ... Read More »

Mortgage borrowers do not shop enough, finance watchdog finds

You often hear things that don’t seem to make much sense. The average person spends more time shopping for a new pair of shoes than for a mortgage is one of these things. Because it sounds so incredible, we tend to think it can’t be true, just some exaggerated bit of rhetoric uttered to make a point. The thing is, it is true, at least in the US, and we have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to thank for making this clear. The CFPB was created after the “great recession” to help avoid any repeat of the mortgage excesses and other risky conditions that caused that recession in the ... Read More »

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