Think Urban, Think Cambridge!

Posts tagged “Custom Scottsdale homes

Scorching Phoenix Plans For An Even Hotter Future by PETER O’DOWD

A Metro Light Rail train rolls by the Devine Legacy apartment building along Central Avenue in Phoenix. The energy-efficient complex includes 65 "urban style" apartments.

Courtesy of Mica Thomas MulloyA Metro Light Rail train rolls by the Devine Legacy apartment building along Central Avenue in Phoenix. The energy-efficient complex includes 65 “urban style” apartments.

text size A A A

August 14, 2012

It’s been a record hot summer in many cities across the nation. Phoenix is no exception. This Sonoran Desert metropolis already records more days over 100 degrees than any other major U.S. city. Now, climate models predict Phoenix will soon get even hotter.

A hotter future may mean a more volatile environment — and along with it, natural disasters, greater pressure on infrastructure, and an increased physical toll on city residents.

While some city planners around the country discuss ways to mitigate climate change, planners in Phoenix assume that change is already under way. Now, they are working to prepare the Phoenix metro area, and its approximately 4 million residents, for a new reality.

‘How Are We Gonna Live Here?’

The view is bleak from John Larsala’s front drive in West Phoenix. The tree in front of the house is dead, and the grass is dead, too. In fact, there’s no grass at all anymore.

On a household income of $18,000 a year, Larsala can’t afford the water charges required to keep his yard green. “All these trees are dying, because I can’t put water on it,” he says.

So Larsala’s children and their friends play basketball in the barren yard. That is, until June comes around and the blazing Phoenix summer finally forces everyone inside.

John Larsala struggles to keep his family cool during the Phoenix summer. The shade trees in his front yard have died because he cannot afford to water them.

EnlargePeter O’Dowd/KJZZJohn Larsala struggles to keep his family cool during the Phoenix summer. The shade trees in his front yard have died because he cannot afford to water them.

For three months, Larsala will shut the doors and windows tight. To save money, he soaks his kids in a cool bath and delays using the air conditioning until just before bedtime.

“Whether you are inside or whether you are outside, the heat costs you money,” Larsala says.

When told that climate scientists predict the state will get even hotter in the future, Larsala is taken aback.

“It’s going to be hotter than what it is right now? Who gonna live here? How are we gonna live here?”

Sustained Heat Waves Ahead

Phoenix actually suffers from two heat problems. One is a product of growth. Desert nights don’t cool down they way they used to, because energy from the sun is trapped in roads and buildings, a phenomenon researchers call the “urban heat island effect.”

As Phoenix grows, so does the problem, says Nancy Selover, the state climatologist.

“We keep thinking we’ll probably see a night when we only get down to 100 as a minimum temperature, which is kind of shocking,” Selover says.

Standing outside in a low-income neighborhood near Phoenix, Selover points out that many households here are using “swamp coolers,” or evaporative coolers. These cooling units are cheaper than air-conditioning — but they’re also less effective.

If Phoenix’s temperatures rise, “it’s going to be pretty unbearable,” Selover says — and without adequate cooling, potentially deadly.

Phoenix’s second problem comes from global climate change. Researchers predict it will make droughts longer and temperatures higher in the region.

Data from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program predict sustained heat waves above 114 degrees will be a yearly crisis in Phoenix by 2040. And each one, researchers project, will last a sweltering three weeks.

A Laboratory For What Works

Selover says these coming changes present Phoenix with an opportunity.

“As a desert city, Phoenix is kind of a laboratory for us to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, to try to mitigate those things.”

In the future, Selover says, “we may well have to live differently.”

Now, city officials are starting to think about what that new lifestyle might entail. One idea is to cover 25 percent of Phoenix with shade trees.

But some, like architect John Meunier, argue for much greater lifestyle adaptations.

Meunier studies pre-industrial desert cities around the world, looking for lessons to apply in modern desert cities like Phoenix.

Sitting at a light-rail stop downtown, he says creating sustainable futures in cities like this one has”everything to do with managing without having to use a lot of extra energy and power.”

To do that, Meunier says planners could encourage 10 times as many people to live around Phoenix’s light-rail stations. Getting more use out of the system would take cars — and heat — off the street.

These people would also live in taller buildings. Meunier says desert cities in Yemen, for example, take advantage of tall buildings to shade narrow streets.

“It’s crucially important. I mean, not being exposed to the direct sun’s rays makes a great big difference,” he says.

Instead of exposed front yards and backyards, older desert cities employ well-ventilated courtyards, Meunier says. Mediterranean cities paint roads and rooftops white to reflect sunlight.

It’s the way Phoenix has been built, Meunier says, that will make its residents vulnerable to rising temperatures.

“I’m not arguing that we should all live at a higher density,” Meunier says. “What I am arguing is that there’s a lot to be gained by having more of us live at higher density.”

Learning To Build Better

For Meunier’s ideas to become reality, developers will have to make the choice to build differently.

Some of them already have. Take the city’s light rail north about three miles, and you can get a close-up view of how buildings like Meunier envisions might actually work.

Felicia McMullen has lived in the energy-efficient Devine Legacy apartment building in central Phoenix since December.

EnlargeCourtesy of Mica Thomas MulloyFelicia McMullen has lived in the energy-efficient Devine Legacy apartment building in central Phoenix since December.

The Devine Legacy is a housing complex designed for people with lower incomes. Right next to the rail line, every window is dual-paned, and the building is also superinsulated. Together, those features make a typical Devine Legacy unit 40 percent more energy efficient.

Walking through the front gate leads you to a courtyard. Four-story buildings rise up on either side of you. There’s shade everywhere, and a breeze moves through the space. Even on a 113-degree day in Phoenix, it feels much cooler.

“Having a cool place to live is more important to me than food,” says resident Felicia McMullen.

Before she moved here, McMullen says she was sick and stressed. She sometimes spent $300 a month to cool her suburban home.

Now, McMullen says, “I don’t have that problem.” Her last electric bill was $60 — and the stress is gone.

Ernesto Fonseca, a planner who specializes in sustainable communities, helped test Devine Legacy’s energy use before it opened late last year.

He considers the complex a small victory in what may someday be a more complicated effort to stay cool.

“People in extreme climates learn to live with it,” Fonseca says. “And that’s part of a resilient society.”

Fonseca thinks a lot about this idea of resilience. He says it means that people who live in Phoenix must do more than try to solve the causes of escalating temperatures — they must also learn to withstand the changes as they happen.

Because, as Fonseca says, “We don’t have a choice.”

Peter O’Dowd works with the public radio collaborative FronterasRead more from their series “Heat Wave.”

Advertisements

One of the worlds most remote Amethyst mines, in Arizona?

One of our favorite show’s on the discovery channel is Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. Mr. Rowe has worked tons of jobs across America but one place he’s yet to visit is a remote Amethyst mine on four peaks.

Earlier this year the crew over at Sami Fine Jewelry in Fountain Hills sent someone up in a Helicopter to one of the most remote mine locations on the planet, hoping to Lure Mr. Rowe to our lovely state. We all know that Arizona is rich in mineral deposits but the Four Peaks Amethyst mine is has the unique distinction of being the last operating Amethyst mine in north America.

What is amethyst? It’s a Purple colored variety of Quartz that is used often in southwestern art and jewelry. It’s nice to know that a store as prominent as Sami Fine Jewelry still takes time to explore its suppliers like this. At Cambridge properties we too believe that you can’t truly know what your selling if you don’t know where it comes from. We love learning about places like the four peaks Amethyst mine, it’s just another reminder that we live in a state that has more than meets the eye.


Did you know you can search the MLS without giving up your information?

Everyone says you can use their tool to search MLS just like a realtor. What nobody tells you is that in order to search MLS you’re first going to have to give them your personal information. At Cambridge Properties we believe that you should be able to search the MLS all you want without having to give us your information.

Don’t get us wrong, we want to be your agent when your buying or selling, but that’s not always why you’re searching. Real estate is something you are going to be involved with for your entire life and at Cambridge properties we believe there is no rush. Take you time, use our search tool to look all over the valley just like a realtor and if you ever have any questions we’d love to hear from you.

 


What is your favorite neighborhood?

The Valley has started to come into it’s own. The different areas of town have really started to Identify their own cultures and leaders. As the Phoenix area grows and expands we would love to hear your favorite things about either the neighborhood you live in or want to live in.

 

What’s your favorite resturant? Store owner? Is there a little business complex you’d like to see revitalized? Cambridge Properties is excited about being your partner in the development and urbanization of Phoenix, we hope you feel the same.

 

 


Link

Arcadia Frank Lloyd Wright house is safe…For Now.

Arcadia Frank Lloyd Wright house is safe…For Now.

The Gladys and David Wright House is safe for now, city officials and Wright conservators say they are happy with a decision not to demolish the property. It’s an honor to live in an area with so many connections to Mr.Wright and his buildings, it would be a shame to loose even one of them.


Link

Great News for Paradise Valley Home Sellers

Great News for Paradise Valley Home Sellers

Big homes are back according to the Wall Street Journal online. This should be great news for companies like Paradise Valley Real Estate Company Cambridge Properties, located in Phoenix Arizona. Cambridge Properties has been a long time leader in urban living and more recently in the Luxury single family home market. News like this should be welcomed by Paradise Valley residents as they start to see their property values once again increase.