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Putting Nature to Work in Oakland California

Putting Nature to Work in Oakland California

Awarded the Proposition 84 Urban Greening Grant, Urban Biofilter has launched the Adapt Oakland planning initiative to clean up the city with the power of nature. Past projects deployed by Urban Biofilter include collaboration with the EPA on a superfund clean-up site, bamboo planting in the Oakland Trucker OT-411 lot, the Fishbone project which established a

Awarded the Proposition 84 Urban Greening Grant, Urban Biofilter has launched the Adapt Oakland planning initiative to clean up the city with the power of nature. Past projects deployed by Urban Biofilter include collaboration with the EPA on a superfund clean-up site, bamboo planting in the Oakland Trucker OT-411 lot, the Fishbone project which established a methodology for citizen treatment of lead contamination, and a proposal for Architecture for Humanity outlining environmental remediation of decommissioned military installations.

The premise of Adapt Oakland works by estimating the valuation of services provided by nature, also known as ecosystem services, as well as the externalized costs of the billions of dollars lost to missed work and school days as well as hospitalizations due to the pollution and particulate matter caused by development. Producing approximately 850 tons of particulate matter a year, West Oakland was chosen to be the case study target as the children of West Oakland are seven times more likely to be hospitalized because of it than the average child of California. They advocate that not only does green infrastructure cost considerably less than conventional infrastructure, it also works to improve the lives of city residents by providing a more clean and healthy urban environment.

Adapt Target Site - 7th St. and Frontage Road in West Oakland One of the West Oakland target sites at 7th Street and Frontage Road as of July 30, 2013.

Adapt Oakland Living Freeway and Retaining Walls Conception of Living Freeway and Retaining Walls to filter particulate matter from traffic and industrial pollution at 7th Street and Frontage Road in West Oakland.

Adapt Oakland Urban Forestry Conception This image depicts Adapt Oakland conception of urban forestry for filtering particulate pollution from the freeway while providing economic opportunity.

Techniques utilized by Adapt Oakland include ecosystem optimization, such as using farms, biogas digesters, living walls, roofs and buffers such as wetlands, forest, swales and reef, to absorb and filter pollutants from city air, water and soils. These natural workhorses also reduce the urban heat island effect, provide animal habitat, buffer extreme weather conditions and create economic engines. The project timeline was initiated with a launch party on May 10, 2013, to be followed by community forums and workshops into the spring of 2014. From there, the campaigning and outreach begins to implement eco-functional landscape design and financial model development, to turn marginalized lands around freeways and industrial or military sites, into active filtering systems that work to improve lives and save the city money.

In acknowledging the value of eco-functional design, what ways could you see your city putting nature to work near you?

Credits: Images by Gina Kiani and Adapt Oakland. Data linked to sources.

Intern photo

Gina Kiani is a Graduate student at the University of Southern California and will complete a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology in the Fall of 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of California...

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