Blue is the New Green

Learn about innovative urban solutions to the global water crisis, with inspiring real-life examples from architects, engineers, planners, ecologists, and artists.

About The Course

How can we innovate to solve the world’s water crisis? Mobilizing water-related design in pursuit of environmental sustainability is one of the most cutting-edge topics in architecture, engineering, planning, urban design, and urban ecology. In this course, students will learn about innovative solutions to the global water crisis, featuring Vancouver--one of the world’s leading cities for blue-green design. Students will explore multiple perspectives from interdisciplinary research in the social and natural sciences, develop an understanding of the interconnections between water and other environmental security issues (the ‘water-energy-food-health nexus’), critically analyze innovative strategies, and be inspired by examples of regenerative sustainability in action.

Using compelling documentary-style videos, the course features architects, planners, artists, engineers, and academics that have been central to creating real-world innovations which link water and sustainability in the built environment. Specific topics include: blue-green building design; eco-health; the role of water in environmentally-sensitive urban planning; waste-to-resource conversion at the neighborhood scale; urban stream regeneration; water ethics; and regenerative sustainability. Students will meet the inspiring founder of the Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability (one of the greenest buildings in North America); visit North America’s largest wastewater-to-energy plant; learn from architects designing urban waterscapes as ‘landscape infrastructure’ along Vancouver’s revitalized waterfront; travel along one of North America’s largest revitalized urban streams, which has become a hub for community engagement and traditional food production; and explore the creation of a ‘watershed mind’ with an award-winning poet and artist. Lectures and engaging readings will supplement the videos, enabling students to learn about some key challenges of the global water crisis; the interconnections between water, energy, food, and land security; and the potential for making positive contributions through integrated, sustainable urban management.

Recommended Background

None.