DIRT is a 21st century infrastructure system for Baltimore. As opposed to the current paradigm of a centralized infrastructure system for utility and community services; DIRT is a distributed and interconnected infrastructure and technology system. It utilizes the concept of interconnected micro-grids to ensure resiliency in the event of catastrophe, but also to maintain stability in day to day usage of utilities and services. DIRT will enable community level micro-grids to “Island” themselves from the city grid; in order to maintain electricity, water, sewer and community services in the event of a catastrophe. In day to day operations these resources are input into the overall city grid to meet the City’s sustainability goals.
Baltimore is a city of row houses and DIRT provides a mechanism for their preservation. This strategy assumes that existing row houses will be rehabbed over time, continuing current trends. As the City upgrades its utility infrastructure and community services in the coming decades, DIRT can be implemented on neighborhood level scale. This allows flexibility in tying infrastructure needs to available funding.
As DIRT is implemented, a physical conditions assessment for a given neighborhood is completed. Structures in danger of imminent collapse will be demolished and utilized for Utility Infrastructure components. Row houses in need of moderate rehabilitation will be modified to provide Community Infrastructure components or be newly renovated homes and will be modernized to state of the art green building standards, either through private developers or City initiatives. Row houses in need of little or no rehabilitation will remain homes and renovated accordingly.
Once the Infrastructure Components are built, the Infrastructure Networks are installed. Alleyways are renovated to enhance permeability while also installing the neighborhood micro-grid components for potable, grey & black water systems. A resiliency armature is installed on existing structures which can accommodate PV panels, green walls/roof systems, glazing and power lines. The resiliency armature is a modular diagrid truss system, that can expand and adapt organically to given neighborhood conditions. Over time, as more row houses are rehabbed, they are tied into the infrastructure networks.
DIRT can be applied incrementally, and support long-term improvement of Baltimore’s neighborhoods. DIRT is a major and long term economic development and infrastructure strategy that will transition Baltimore into a resilient future. Once fully implemented throughout the city, DIRT will enable Baltimore to be a dynamic and self-sustaining organism that is resilient to a wide variety of natural and human-made catastrophes, while also a very livable city for its residents.