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Roma Citta’ Futura

May 23, 2010

While I was sitting in a conference about Margaret Fuller on the Tiber Island this morning, I drafted seven points for getting Rome back on track for a sustainable future. I didn’t start out with the magic number seven, but in the city of seven hills, seven kings, it works out well. It is a work in progress but I intend for these to be the backbone of my upcoming book on Rome.

1.Stitching damaged fabric.

  • •requalify blighted areas through design
  • •inject life into underutilized buildings
  • •create public space where it is lacking
  • •make private space work where it is dysfunctional
  • •seek synergies and closed-loop adjacencies

2.Internalize and distribute energy

  • •recognize the energy efficiency of Rome’s buildings and increase it where possible
  • •in new construction, quantify and regulate embodied energy
  • •require and fund installation of renewable energy sources on public buildings: PV, solar thermal, wind, geothermal, etc.
  • •facilitate installation of renewable energy sources on private buildings: PV, solar thermal, wind, geothermal, etc.
  • •exploit adjacencies for cogeneration

3.Minimize private automobile use

  • •seek to invert record of worst per capita auto use in Europe
  • •vastly improve public transit, especially BRT, through strictly enforced bus lanes, precise and extended schedules, creative PR to restore image of public transit
  • •privilege bikes through real bike sharing, ubiquitous bike parking, extended bike paths and, above all, the removal of private autos from most streets
  • •Declare historical center zona 30 or car-free
  • •Zero tolerance for traffic and parking violations
  • •Moratorium on new parking areas
  • •Reduce “macchine blu” to bare minimum, following examples of British leader David Cameron who walks to work.  No public employees should use a car unless their job requires travel to areas inaccessible to public transit, bike or walking. Furthermore, when for security reasons “macchine blu” and escorts are requested, maximum transparency is necessary so citizens can see what it is costing and decide if it’s worth it.

4.Ban waste

  • •create urban re-use centers and subsidize vintage commerce
  • •streamline recycling and make it work (also enforcing waste separation with force of law)
  • •penalize packaging, promote bulk sale and re-usable containers by pricing waste out of the market
  • •create neighborhood compost centers and gasification plants
  • •encourage urban agriculture, including courtyard animals such as pigs, as a productive use for organic waste

5.Re-forest and farm

  • •facilitate design and permitting for green roofs and urban gardens
  • •provide land for urban farms
  • •incentivate courtyard animal breeding
  • •penalize long-distance produce by fuel taxes and fees

6.Send water where it is needed

  • •Though Rome has abundant clean water, other parts of Italy don’t;  conserve water in Rome and pipe it to Puglia, etc.
  • •Re-invent cisterns to store water from rainy season for dry season
  • •De-pave where possible to prevent rapid run-off
  • •Create complex loops to purify and use grey and black water

7.Reinvent community

  • •design public spaces and facilities
  • •enforce full transparency of information for citizens
  • •promote education, oral histories, local culture
  • •promote sustainable tourism, using local authenticity to attract global interest
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